Apple Pay launched in the UK back in July. With Apple Pay it's possible to pay for goods and services (up to £20 - soon £30) in the UK by tapping your iPhone or Apple Watch to a card reader - presuming you are banking with a bank that supports Apple Pay.

Apple launched its Apple Pay mobile payment service in the US back in October 2014 and in the UK on 14 July 2015. With Apple Pay it is possible to tap your iPhone or Apple Watch to a contactless payment terminal to make a payment. However, there are likely to be some limitations in the early days, and to use Apple Pay it will be necessary to verify your debit and credit cards in the Passbook app (which will transform into the Wallet app when Apple launches iOS 9 on 16 September - read more about Apple Wallet here).

In this article we explain how to set up Apple Pay with your bank account, and how to use Apple Pay to pay for goods and services in the UK.

Read: Advanced iOS 9 tips

Apple Pay UK launch: When is Apple Pay coming to the UK?

Prior to its release, Apple had confirmed that Apple Pay would arrive in the UK in July 2015, but no one was certain as to the specific date. However an avalanche of later-deleted tweets from banks and retailers, as well as early signage and other leaks, meant that we were pretty certain that it would be 14 July 2015. Sure enough, as of that date, Apple Pay officially launched in the UK and you're free to use your iPhone or Apple Watch to make purchases.

Apple Pay UK launch

Read more about Apple Pay and details of which stores, banks and services support it here: Apple Pay in the UK - latest information.

You'll also able to use Apple Pay on the London Underground. Read about how to use Apple Pay on the Tube here.

Read our Apple Pay review

Who can use Apple Pay?

That depends on which Apple device you've got, and on your choice of bank. 

To use Apple Pay you need a compatible iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, and these also need to be running a sufficiently advanced right version of iOS. We explain all of these things in more detail in the sections below.

But not every bank supports Apple Pay. We think all the major UK bank will offer Apple Pay support by the end of 2015 (the only significant refusenik, Barclays, now says it will join the fold soon) but the list of banks that supported it on launch day was considerably shorter. We look at the list of UK banks that support Apple Pay in a separate article.

Apple Pay UK banks

Finally, your ability to use Apple Pay will also be limited by your choice of shop. In theory you will be able to use it anywhere with a contactless payment terminal, but some shops may choose not to accept it despite technically being able to do so. Some smaller shops that haven't previously offered such terminals may choose to obtain one in order to accept Apple Pay, of course; there's likely to be a lot of demand.

Going by the experience of our colleagues at Macworld US when the service launched over there, it's likely to take a little time before Apple Pay awareness becomes universal, so you may find that some shop assistants don't know at first how to deal with it.

One final issue is that contactless terminals in the UK were initially limited to £20 transactions. Apparently, these terminals will need a software update before they can accept larger transactions, so it might take some time for that to roll out to all shops that want this. However, the limit of £20 has recently changed to £30, so you may find you can now spend even more using Apple Pay on your iPhone or Apple Watch.

Which Apple devices work with Apple Pay?

If you wish to make purchases in shops you need either an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which are the only iPhones equipped with the requisite NFC radio antennae, or an Apple Watch. They also have Touch ID, which is used to verify payments.

The iPhones 6s and 6s Plus will support even faster Apple Pay due to improvements to the Touch ID coming with those devices. 

Because the iPhone 5s lacks the NFC chip it won't work with Apple Pay terminals, even though it does have Touch ID.

You can use Touch ID-equipped iPads (the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3) with Apple Pay too, although these will only be able to use the online/app-based version of Apple Pay: you can't use them to pay for things in shops or to beep into the London Underground.

What software do I need to install? Do I need a specific version of iOS?

There isn't a separate Apple Pay app that you need to install, but you may need to update your iPhone or iPad to the latest version of iOS 8. (To use Apple Pay in the UK you need to have iOS 8.3 or later. In the US, on the other hand, iOS 8.1 would be sufficient.) This will activate your iPhone's Apple Pay feature.

iOS 9 will be be compatible with Apple Pay too, of course, and when it launches Passbook will be called Wallet instead - but otherwise everything about Apple Pay should work essentially the same.

Set up Apple Pay on iPhone: How do I add my credit or debit card details?

As long as your bank is offering Apple Pay, if you have your credit or debit cards already linked to your Apple ID for making iTunes and App Store purchase, you can opt to keep using that card with Apple Pay. If the card you want to use isn't already associated with your Apple ID you can add it.

Either way, launch Passbook (as we said, when iOS 9 launches in the autumn this will be renamed as Wallet) and tap Add Credit or Debit Card. You'll be prompted to enter your Apple ID password.

How to set up and use Apple Pay in the UK

You'll be prompted to add either a credit or debit card to use with Apple Pay. Tap "Add Another Card", then follow the entry fields on the next screen. If the card you're setting up is already associated with iTunes this process will simply require you to enter the security code, but a wholly new card will require a little more work.

If you'd prefer not to type in fiddly numbers you can speed up the process by holding your iPhone over the card so that your iPhone can all the details, which will be added magically (with the exception of a few additional details such as the security code, which you add afterwards).

How to set up Apple Pay in the UK

Agree to the terms and conditions. Tap next. Whether you're using a card already linked to your Apple ID or adding a new one, your iPhone will still need to verify your card, and this process varies from bank to bank. Santander, the bank we used for our test setup, offers verification via text or phone call:

How to set up and use Apple Pay in the UK

Apple points out that the verification stage doesn't necessarily have to happen at the same time that you added the card: you can come back later and verify a card that added a card earlier. Go to Settings > Passbook & Apple Pay, or open Passbook again.

Tap Next after verification is complete, and you're ready to go.

Set up Apple Pay on Apple Watch: How do I add my credit or debit card details?

To set up Apple Pay on an Apple Watch, it's necessary to use the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

Open the My Watch tab > Passbook & Apple Pay. Now choose to mirror the alerts that show on your iPhone, or choose Custom and select whether to have alerts come to your watch or not.

Unfortunately, even if you have already set up Apple Pay on your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, you'll need to add your cards again to your Apple Watch. Luckily, as with the iPhone, you can use the iPhone's camera to capture the data from the front of the card. Once that's done, verify that the info is correct, and add the three-digit security code on the back of your card.

Apple Pay isn't appearing on my iPhone. How can I activate it and add credit/debit cards?

Some users have reported that the option to add their credit and debit cards for use with Apple Pay hasn't appeared within the Passbook app or the Settings menu. Don't worry, though, as this is easily remedied and you'll be using Apple Pay in no time.

To manually activate Apple Pay on your iPhone, you need to head to the Settings app. Once in the Settings app, go to Language & Region, tap on the Region (which should say United Kingdom) and change it to United States. Once changed, simply restart your iPhone. 

Once your iPhone has restarted, open the Passbook app. From here, you should be able to add your (supported) credit or debit cards to be used with Apple Pay - see above for full instructions.

After you've successfully added all your credit or debit cards to Apple Pay, simply head back into the Settings app and change the Region back from United States to United Kingdom. Once you've changed the region, restart your iPhone again and Apple Pay should be accessible along with the debit or credit cards you've just added.

How do I use Apple Pay with the iPhone?

To pay using Apple Pay on your iPhone, hold your iPhone up to the contactless payment terminal near the cash register (within one inch, officially) and tap your Touch ID button to complete your purchase.

You don't even need to wake up your iPhone or launch Passbook to use Apple Pay: your phone wakes up as soon as it gets in range of a terminal and initiates the payment process.

How to use Apple Pay in the UK

The terminal may ask you to select either Credit or Debit, and Apple recommends that you select the Credit option in order to "get the most consistent Apple Pay experience"; it adds that selecting Debit might not work if payment terminal (or back-end system) is quite old.

If you don't wish to use your default card, hold your iPhone near the contactless reader without placing your finger on Touch ID. Your iPhone will wake up, and you'll see your default card on your screen. Tap the default card and you will see a list of all your cards, tap the card you want to use then move your iPhone towards the terminal and tap the Touch ID to initiate the payment.

How do I use Apple Pay with the Apple Watch?

If you want to buy something with your Apple Watch you need to double-press the button underneath the Digital Crown. When you press this button twice it will bring up your default Apple Pay card. Your other cards are available too so select a different one if you prefer.

Once you pick the card you want to use, you'll just hold your Watch close to the contactless payment terminal until you hear a beep and/or feel a vibration. When our US colleagues first started using Apple Pay with the Apple Watch they advised making sure the watch face was turned toward the payment terminal when tapping it. At some retailers you may still need to enter your PIN to complete the transaction.

The best part of using Apple Pay on the Apple Watch is you don't need to have your iPhone with you to use it. You could leave your phone at home, go for a run using the Workout app on your watch, and then pop into Waitrose on your way home to buy a bottle of water.

How much can I spend using Apple Pay?

Like most contactless payment systems, Apple Pay was initiallu by default limited to £20 transactions, but that has recently increased to £30 per transaction. In addition, many shops have removed this limit on Apple Pay transactions by using a software update for their terminals.

It's the terminals that are limited to £20/£30 rather than Apple Pay itself, which because of its fingerprint-based payment verification is far more secure than using a contactless bank card - hence some shops and banks being willing to allow a larger transaction to be made.

If I lose my Apple Watch or iPhone, can someone else use my Apple Pay details?

As soon as you take your Apple Watch of your wrist it locks with a passcode, so if you were to ever lose it, or if it's stolen, whoever gets hold of it won’t be able to use Apple Pay without knowing your watch’s passcode.

If you are worried you can disable your bank cards using the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

We examine the question of security and Apple Pay here: Is Apple Pay safe to use?

How to choose which card to pay with in Apple Pay

The card linked to your Apple ID will automatically become your default Apple Pay card, however you can change that by going to Settings > Passbook & Apple Pay and updating your default information.

If you wish to use another card to pay for something hold your iPhone near the contactless reader without placing your finger on Touch ID. Your iPhone will wake up, and you'll see your default card on your screen. Tap the default card and you will see a list of all your cards, tap the card you want to use then move your iPhone towards the terminal and tap the Touch ID to initiate the payment.

Can I use Apple Pay to make payments in apps?

If you like to do your shopping inside an app rather than inside a supermarket, you can also use Apple Pay (presuming, of course, that the app works with Apple Pay). When making in-app purchases, Apple Pay works with the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, Pad Air 2, and iPad mini 3 because all those devices have a Touch ID sensor.

Depending on the app, you may have to toggle on a setting to allow the app to access Apple Pay, or to set Apple Pay as your default method of payment.

The interface and precise wording will vary from app to app, but this is the process you'll follow to pay in an app using Apple Pay:

  1. At the appropriate point in the transaction, tap the button to use Apple Pay. This will be labelled with 'Buy with Apple Pay', or may just have the Apple Pay logo.
  2. Check that the details are correct, as you would with any credit/debit card payment. Make sure the payment information and contact details are right and enter any additional information that is requested. (Apple Pay is clever about things like this. You should only need to enter things like billing addresses once, because it will remember them and offer them automatically next time.)
  3. Put your finger on the Touch ID scanner to complete the payment.

Can I use Apple Pay to make payments online?

You can also use Apple Pay to make payments with online stores that have partnered with Apple Pay. Again you just need Touch ID on your iPhone, iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 to complete the purchase.

Macworld poll: Have you used Apple Pay?

Have you tried Apple Pay since it launched here in the UK? Let us know by answering our poll:

Read next: How to use Apple News

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