If you have an iPhone or Apple Watch you can use it to securely pay for goods at contactless terminals in shops around the UK thanks to Apple Pay, Apple's contactless payment system. Apple Pay also makes it possible for you to pay for goods online without entering your card details. 

As of May 2017 it has been possible to pay for goods with a value higher than £30 using Apple Pay on your iPhone or Watch. Previously all contactless transactions were limited to £30. This is likely to give users a reason to use Apple Pay rather than their debit or credit card, which will still be limited to £30.

In this article we will answer all your questions about using Apple Pay in the UK, you can go straight to the sections by clicking on any link in the table of contents above, or on one of these links below:

If you've got any more questions about the Apple Pay service let us know on Twitter or post them to the comments below.

For Macworld's verdict on the service, read our Apple Pay review.

Updated 13 March, with news that it is now possible to donate to a number of UK charities using Apple Pay.

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay allows you to pay for things in shops by holding your iPhone or Apple Watch up to the contactless payment terminal. You can also use Apple Pay on some websites and in some iOS apps.

All you need to do is add your credit or debit card payment details to the Wallet app on your device, and the next time you are in a shop all you need to do is hold your iPhone up to the payment terminal with your finger on the Touch ID button of your iPhone in order to keep the transaction secure. If you have an Apple Watch you don't need the extra level of security offered by Touch ID as your Watch is linked to you from the moment you put it on your wrist and link it to your iPhone. Later in this article we will exaplain the security implications of this.

Since May 2016 it has been possible to spend over £30 using Apple Pay on your Apple device, but some stores are still limited to £30. Card transactions are still limited to £30 a time because they are not secured with a PIN or another form of ID.

Apple Pay was first launched in the UK on 14 July 2015. A first tier of UK banks offered Apple Pay support immediately (including NatWest, Santander and Nationwide) with more following later in the year. Now the majority of UK banks offer Apple Pay to their customers.

The UK launch came roughly nine months after the US launch of Apple Pay on 20 October 2014, as part of the iOS 8.1 update. Apple Pay saw 1 million activations in its first three days, according to Apple.

Much like other roll-outs, Apple Pay isn't available in every bank, every shop, or every country, yet. Included in this article are details about which shops and banks do support Apple Pay, and also which countries have already adopted Apple Pay.

Which Apple devices can use Apple Pay?

The Touch ID fingerprint scanner is key to using Apple Pay on an iPhone or iPad, but you will also need a specific NFC antenna that is only built into certain Apple devices.

The service is compatible with the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, iPhone SE, iPad Air 2, iPad Pro. You can also use the Apple Watch to pay for things via Apple Pay. 

The iPhone 5S doesn't offer Apple Pay despite having a Touch ID scanner. However, users with iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S, can use the service through an Apple Watch.

Since Sierra was launched at the end of 2016 it has also been possible pay for things online via Apple Pay on your Mac in conjunction with the Touch ID sensor on your Apple iPhone or your Apple Watch. The new MacBook Pro has a Touch Bar which incorporates a Touch ID button so that you can use it to verify Apple Pay transactions. You can't use the MacBook Pro to pay for stuff in store though - but you are unlikley to be carrying your laptop under your arm when you go to Sainsburys so this is unlikely to be an issue.

How to set up Apple Pay

Setting up Apple Pay is easy as long as you are running the correct version of the operating system and have a compatible device, below is a guide to setting up Apple Pay on each Apple device, there are also links to more detailed tutorials.

How do I set up Apple Pay on an iPhone?

You will need to set up Apple Pay on your iPhone using the Wallet app: here's how to use Apple Wallet app.

If you've got a credit or debit card linked to your Apple ID already (for making iTunes and App Store purchases), you can just carry on using that with Apple Pay. Alternatively, you can add a new card to your account.

Either way, launch Wallet and select Add Credit or Debit Card, then "Add Another Card". Fill in the required fields. 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 new card will take a bit more work.

How to set up and use Apple Pay in the UK

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).

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.

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 > Wallet & Apple Pay, or open Wallet again.

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

You may be required to go through some additional steps with your bank. Here's our detailed tutorial about setting up Apple Pay on the iPhone.

How do set up Apple Pay on an Apple Watch?

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 > Wallet & 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 iOS device, 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. (Edit: this may have been an early glitch in the system).

For more details read: How to set up Apple Pay on an Apple Watch

How do I set up Apple Pay on my Mac?

When you set up a new MacBook Pro with Touch ID you will be prompted to configure Apple Pay during setup (you can set it up later in the Wallet & Apple Pay section of System Preferences if you choose not to). 

The Wallet & Apple Pay section of System Preferences is where you manage your payment cards. Go there to add or delete cards and update contact information.

You can only add payment cards to only one user account on your Mac. Your Touch ID and Apple Pay info will be unavailable to anyone who logs onto a different account on your Mac.

We have a complete tutorial about setting up Apple Pay on your Mac here: How to use Apple Pay on a Mac.

How to use Apple Pay

Once you have it set up, Apple Pay is simple and speedy to use.

Here's a couple of mini videos showing how easy Apple Pay is to use, below we will look at using Apple pay on each Apple device.

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 Wallet to use Apple Pay: your phone wakes up as soon as it gets in range of a terminal and initiates the payment process.

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?

If you have set up Apple Pay on your iPhone or Apple Watch you can use it to pay for goods at any price in stores around the UK, as long as the tills in those stores have the correct software installed.

Prior to May 2017 you were limited to £30 or under in a transaction using Apple Pay. But you are now able to pay for any amount at checkouts in UK shops.

According to Apple, over half of the contactless payment terminals are set to accept transactions of any value if you use your iPhone or Apple Watch to pay.

A Telegraph report suggests that mobile payments have got off to a ‘“slow start” because they were limited to £30 per transaction. Now that mobile payments aren’t limited consumers may start to see the value of using their mobile phone to pay rather than their card. Card payments will still be limited to £30 because they do not require shoppers to enter a pin number, use a fingerprint or other form of ID.  

The venders will need to upgrade their payment terminals before the larger transactions can be accepted, so if you are unable to use your iPhone or Apple Watch to pay for something with a value greater than £30, this is likely to be why.

Stores accepting the larger payments include Waitrose and Sainsbury.

Restaurants accepting the larger payments include Pizza Express and Nando’s.

Which UK banks and credit cards support Apple Pay?

As of May 2017, 23 banks now support Apple Pay according to Head of Apple’s payments business Jennifer Bailey, these include the following banks and financial institutions:

    American Express

    Lloyds Bank

    Barclays

    M&S Bank

    Barclaycard

    MBNA

    Bank of Scotland

    Metro Bank

    boon. by Wirecard

    Nationwide

    Cash Passport (Raphael's)

    Natwest

    Clyesdale Bank

    Royal Bank of Scotland

    The Co-operative Bank

    Santander

    First Direct

    TSB

    Halifax

    Tesco Bank

    HBSC

    Ulster Bank

 

    Yorkshire Bank

Can I add my store cards to Apple Pay?

Not yet, but Apple says that you will be able to soon.

Head of Apple’s payments business Jennifer Bailey hinted at ways in which the Wallet app, which houses the Apple Pay feature, could grow in the future, telling the Telegraph: “If you think about all the things in your wallet, we're thinking about all those things, we're probably actively working on most of them.” New areas being developed could include a digital version of your Driving Licence and ID card, as well as store and loyalty cards.

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 > Wallet & 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.

Shopping with Apple Pay: Which shops take Apple Pay?

Any shop that has a terminal that can accept contactless payments should be able to accept Apple Pay. Look out for the Apple Pay logo or the symbol for contactless payments.

How to use Apple Pay: Apple Pay symbols

When it launched Apple Pay in the UK Apple said that it would be available at more locations for its launch UK than it was for the US launch - and there were some big names on the list.

When Apple Pay launched in the UK a number of retailers were onboard from the start including:

    Boots

    Nando's

    BP

    New Look

    Costa

    Post Office

    Dun

    Pret A Manger

    JD Sports

    Spar

    KFC

    Starbucks

    Liberty

    Subway

    LIDL

    Wagamama

    M&S

    Waitrose

    McDonald's

 

TfL (Transport for London) also supported Apple Pay at launch too, so Londoners were able to pay for Tube and bus journeys with their iPhone or Apple Watch.

Click here for a full (and expanding) list of UK shops and apps that work with Apple Pay. Read: How to use Apple Pay on the London Underground.

Which UK shops and retailers will support Apple Pay?

Can I use Apple Pay on my phone at a drive-thru following the ban on using mobile phones in the car?

The law states that if you use your phone while driving you could get six points on your licence and be fined £200. This has lead to questions regarding whether you can use Apple Pay on your phone to pay for your burger at a McDonalds drive-through.

According to the GMP Traffic twitter account, as long as your engine is turned off and your handbrake applied it should be ok - if on the other hand you are driving your car through the drive-through while using your phone then you could be penalised, theoretically.

We think it’s unlikely that the police will be hanging around drive-throughs looking for people using their phones, but it’s something to bear in mind.

How to donate to charities using Apple Pay

It is now possible to donate to 22 different charities using Apple Pay.

Charities including the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Comic Relief will now let you donate via an Apple Pay link on their websites.

You can donate to the following charities:

    ActionAid UK,

    The Royal British Legion,

    Alzheimer's Society,

    RNIB,

    Barnardo’s,

    RNLI,

    British Heart Foundation,

    RSPB,

    Cancer Research UK,

    RSPCA,

    Comic Relief,

    Scope,

    Concern Worldwide (UK),

    Sightsavers,

    DEC,

    Unicef UK,

    Marie Curie,

    VSO,

    Oxfam, (RED),

    WaterAid

 

    WWF-UK

How to donate: We looked at the British Heart Foundation website. There is a link on the home page to “Instant donate using Apple Pay”. This takes you to the donation page. You will need to scroll down the page to click on a button to Set up Apple Pay. When we clicked that button it automatically changed to Donate with Apple Pay, at which point we were asked to enter the amount to donate, clicking on the link then made the donation.

How to get a refund or return goods bought with Apple Pay?

There may to be some confusion about processing refunds and returns, but it shouldn't be too hard in practice. Apple explains:

"How do I process returns with Apple Pay?

"Use the Device Account Number to find the purchase and process the return, just like you would with a traditional credit or debit card payment. To see the last four or five digits of the Device Account Number, ask the customer to go to Passbook, tap the card, and tap i on the lower-right corner of the display.

"You can also have the customer hold their iPhone near the reader, select the card they used to make the original payment, and authorize the return with Touch ID or passcode."

In other words, it should be as simple as touching your iPhone to the reader.

Read next: ApplePay aims to replace your wallet with an iPhone

How to use Apple Pay to pay for things on the web

Apple calls this "one-touch checkout", since there's far less need to enter data than in most online payment systems.

On websites that offer Apple Pay you can select the Apple Pay button during checkout. When prompted, confirm the payment by placing your finger on the Touch ID on your device.

How to 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 devices that 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:

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.

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.)

Put your finger on the Touch ID scanner to complete the payment.

Is it safe to use Apple Pay?

Your card details are never shared by Apple when you use Apple Pay, so making purchases with your iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad and Mac is actually a safer, more private way to pay.

When you set up Apple Pay your card number is never actually stored on your device or on Apple's servers, so when you pay, your card numbers are not shared by Apple with the merchants.

Apple also doesn’t keep any transaction information so it can't be tied back to you. You can view your most recent purchases in the Wallet app on your iPhone or Watch, but that’s as far as it goes.

It's a safe and secure way to pay, but we look at Apple Pay Security in more detail below...

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?

Do I pay Apple to use Apple Pay?

You won't be charged additional fees for using Apple Pay.

How does Apple make money out of Apple Pay?

Not by collecting purchase or customer data, apparently. (We discuss the privacy aspects of Apple Pay further down.)

Apple says it will levy a fee on each purchase from the banks involved in the system. Apple insists it won't charge users, merchants or developers: in its new Apple Pay FAQs, the company confirms that it "doesn't charge any additional fees" for merchants to accept Apple Pay.

Can I use Apple Pay abroad?

Heading off on holiday and wondering whether you will be able to use Apple Pay abroad? Here's what you need to know...

You should be able to use Apple Pay abroad, assuming that the retailer can accept contactless payments. It may be the case that the country you are in has a different transaction limits - so you may only be able to spend as much as you can when using Apple Pay in the UK.

You will likely also find that overseas charges apply, plus you will have to allow for the limitations of your mobile phone contract, data charges and foreign transaction fees.

Which countries have Apple Pay?

    USA - since October 2014

    Hong Kong - since July 2016

    UK - since July 2015

    Russia - since October 2016

    Canada - since November 2015

    New Zealand - since October 2016

    Australia - since November 2015

    Japan - since October 2016

    China - since February 2016

    Spain - since December 2017

    Singapore - since April 2016

    Ireland - since March 2017

    Switzerland - since July 2016

    Italy - since May 2017

    France - since July 2016

    Taiwan - lanching in 'early 2017'

Apple Pay in Ireland

Apple Pay has launched in Ireland in March 2017

KBC and Ulster Bank were ready to support Apple Pay transactions at launch, and any shop that has a compatible payment terminal will be able to accept Apple Pay.

Shops including M&S, Lidl, Aldi and Dunnes Store are all advertising the fact that they will support Apple’s payment system, allowing Irish iPhone and Apple Watch owners to pay for their shopping using their Apple device.

Apple Pay also supports Ireland’s Wirecard Boon prepaid card system.

Some of the major Irish banks are not yet supporting Apple Pay, including AIB which has supported Android Pay since late 2016.

Appe Pay in Italy

Apple Pay arrived in Italy in May 2017, with UniCredit and Carrefour Banca supporting the service.

Appe Pay in Germany

Apple Pay will be coming to Germany soon according to reports

Is it safe to use Apple Pay?

Is Apple Pay secure? The short answer is yes, we're pretty sure it is - and it's almost certainly more secure than previous payment methods. But the long answer is a bit more complicated.

It's impossible to say with any certainty that Apple Pay's security is watertight until we've tested it out for ourselves over a decent period of time. But Apple execs have fallen over themselves to insist that security was a priority from day one.

If the iPhone is lost or stolen, for instance, you can use Find My iPhone to suspend all payments from that device. There's no need to cancel the credit card, because the number isn't stored on the device, as we already mentioned - we can thank tokenisation for that.

Your credit card number isn't given to the merchant. What you're doing, rather, is creating a device-only account number and storing it in the secure element. "You use a one-time payment number and a dynamic security code," said Eddie Cue.

Read next: Is Apple Pay safe? Find out if you're at risk by using Apple Pay

The secure element is a hardware component - a chip inside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus where sensitive data can be stored. Secure element is a generic term for protected memory on smart cards, and the data on the secure element isn't even accessible to iOS (it's only accessed via a random code during the transaction). Hackers wouldn't be able to get hold of your credit card details if they hacked your phone. And it's apparently able to sense if someone is dismantling the phone in an attempt to access the data on the secure element.

It's also worth mentioning that Apple has a strong record when it comes to payment systems. Even the biggest payment platforms suffer compromises from time to time, but Apple has built up customer trust when purchasing through iTunes and the App Stores.

Apple hasn't been immune from security problems, admittedly, with the nude celebrity photo leak from iCloud recently put at its door. (The company did claim that this was the result of a targeted attack on password and usernames, mind you, rather than a failure of iCloud's security systems.) But even if some pundits felt its initial response to the leak was lacklustre (or even victim-blaming), it then responded by insisting that security will be beefed up in iOS 8: pushing two-factor authentication and sending additional security warnings. Apple is taking security seriously.

Incidentally, Tim Cook pointed out that the system Apple Pay is proposing to replace isn't exactly super-secure itself, since it's easy to lose a credit card or have it compromised.

"This whole process is based on this little piece of plastic," he said. "And whether it's a credit or debit card, we're totally reliant on the exposed numbers and the outdated and vulnerable magnetic strip. Which, by the way, is five decades old. And the security codes, which aren't that secure."

We address this concern in still more detail in separate articles: Here are the security questions raised by Apple Pay and Apple Pay's security pros and cons.

Apple Pay FAQs: Will Apple Pay work in the UK, is Apple Pay secure and more questions answered

Could a hacker steal my credit-card details from the iPhone?

Apparently not. As a security measure, the credit card details aren't actually stored on the iPhone, or on Apple's servers. (It may be worth mentioning that Google Wallet works differently: Google keeps your card details on its servers.)

Apple says the payment network or issuing bank will provide a Device Account Number, using a technique called tokenisation: replacing a sensitive piece of data with a random piece of data that typically has the same format. Tokenisation reduces or removes the need to update existing systems that require a credit-card number, without exposing the real number to theft.

But here's one last word on security. One site reckons that Apple Pay and other electronic wallet technologies are actually making it easy to commit credit-card fraud. It reports that criminals are bypassing the security checks by using the old-fashioned fraud method - buying hacked credit-card details - and then setting these up on an iPhone's Apple Pay system, which then allows them to pay for goods without any identification checks beyond the fingerprint - which won't be a problem, because it's the fraudster's phone, even though it's not his credit card.

Obviously this is hardly Apple's fault, nor is it really a new problem - it simply makes the fraud process slightly smoother for criminals who have already got their victim's credit-card details. Read more details for yourself here.

Read next: Fraud comes to headlines about Apple Pay

If I'm hit by fraud on Apple Pay, will I be liable for any losses?

The situation should remain much the same as when using credit or debit cards on their own. In its guide for merchants, Apple explains about fraud liability:

"Will I [the merchant] be liable for fraud on Apple Pay transactions?

"Apple Pay transactions are treated in the same way as your current credit and debit transactions. You'll have the same liability rules applied to Apple Pay transactions."

Regulations in the UK dictate that cardholders are not held financially liable for any fraud on their cards, "provided you have not acted fraudulently or without reasonable care (e.g. you haven't written down your PIN and haven’t disclosed it to someone else)", and this will apply under Apple Pay too.

Payments made using Apple Pay in a shop are classified as card-present transactions, by the way. Payments made using Apple Pay within apps are card-not-present transactions. This has some ramifications in terms of liability if something goes wrong, but either way it shouldn't be you picking up the tab.

More information on card fraud liability here and here.

What about privacy - can I be tracked if I pay using Apple Pay?

Apparently not. Eddie Cue insisted: "Security is at the core of Apple Pay; but so is privacy. We are not in the business of collecting your data." (Was that a shot at Google?)

When you go to a shop, Apple doesn't get to know what you bought, how much you paid for it, or any other personal details. The guy behind the counter doesn't get to see your name or your credit card number - all of which are potential weak spots of the current system, under which cards are occasionally cloned and ripped off.

Who are the rivals to Apple Pay

As usual when discussing Apple rivals, two names leap to mind: Google and Samsung. There are a few other services out there, but we'll deal with those two first.

Google Wallet first. This has been around in the US for a few years now, but it's a little different to Apple Pay. For one thing, it lets you store debit and credit card details on your mobile, whereas Apple Pay uses tokenisation to ensure that the details aren't stored on the iPhone. (There has been some criticism of Google Wallet's security, but it should be pointed out that the company has implemented security measures including the storing of the details in the NFC chip's secure element.) And Google Wallet offers wider compatibility than Apple Pay. See: What you need to know about Google Wallet.

There was a while before any Android payment solution arrived in the UK, but Android Pay is now available in the UK. You can read more about Android Pay here: Android Pay guide.

Samsung Pay, launched in the UK in May 2017. Samsung Pay more closely matches Apple Pay (cynics might accuse Samsung of copycat behaviour, but it actually acquired its way into the mobile payment arena) and should offer similar security and ease of use. Read more about Samsung Pay here.

What other mobile payments services are there? There's CurrentC, whose prospects a colleague discusses here: The Macalope: Which is doomed, Apple Pay or CurrentC? And Amazon had an app called Wallet that ran in beta for a while, but that appears to have been shelved now. Finally, as we mentioned in the dedicated Barclays section, bPay is another rival to Apple Pay but has a number of shortcomings by comparison.