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What is Google Pay?

Google Pay - formerly known as 'Android Pay' - allows you to make purchases with your smartphone. We explain how it works and where it's supported. 

In this article
What is Google Pay? Is Google Pay safe? How to set up Google Pay Using Google Pay in stores and online
Using Google Pay on gov.uk How much can I spend using Google Pay? Which shops accept Google Pay? Which banks support Google Pay?

What is Google Pay?

Google Pay (formerly known as 'Android Pay') - the mobile payments system from Google - is the tech giant's latest gambit in its ongoing battle to compete with its great rival, Apple, which launched Apple Pay in September 2014.

By storing credit cards, debit cards and loyalty cards within a digital wallet, Google Pay lets you pay for goods simply by holding your mobile phone over a contactless reader.

The UK has had Apple Pay for the iPhone since July 2015, but the launch of Google Pay in May 2016 enables even more people to use their smartphones for contactless payments and in-app purchases.

 

Is Google Pay safe?

Like Apple Pay, Google Pay/Android Pay has introduced a number of measures to keep your personal and financial information safe: 

Each card is given a virtual account number so that the real details are never shared with retailers, which helps to protect against fraud.

Google Pay requires you to have a screen lock set up - depending on your phone, you can choose to enter a Pin, password, pattern or fingerprint. 

Every time you make a purchase, you’ll see a payment confirmation showing where that transaction happened, along with the name of that retailer, making it easier to spot suspicious activity.

You can instantly lock your device and even wipe it clean of your personal information using 'Android Device Manager' if your phone is lost or stolen.

Find out more: mobile phone insurance: how to get the best cover

How to set up Google Pay

Google Pay works on any Android device that supports near-field communication (NFC) payments - wireless technology that enables one device to communicate with another when in close proximity – and runs the operating system KitKat 4.4 or above.

Once you've downloaded the Google Pay app from the official app store 'Google Play', you can add your debit, credit, loyalty and gift cards. You can save time by taking a picture of your card via the app. 

Check that NFC is turned on (go to your phone's Settings app and then NFC & Payment and then Tap and pay). Now you're ready to use it in-store. 

Find out more: how to choose the best mobile phone

Using Google Pay in stores and online

On the high street, you simply hover your phone over any contactless payment terminal. If you’re spending more than £30, you'll need to unlock your phone first.  

You can even use Google Pay when you're busy with other apps, without having to stop what you’re doing (once the payment confirmation screen appears, you’ll be returned back to where you were).

Google Pay can perform transactions offline but you'll need to connect to the internet from time to time so that the app can sync with Google's servers.

Always ask for a receipt if there's a chance you'll want to return any item/s.

The return can be processed by tapping your phone on the terminal but the cashier can still ask for a receipt as proof of purchase. You may also be asked to provide the last 4 digits of your virtual account number. 

Android also supports payments in selected apps and websites (such as Airbnb, Asos, Deliveroo, Justeat and Ryanair), which means you can tap a button to checkout without having to enter your card details and delivery address each time.

Add a credit or debit card at pay.google.com to start using Google Pay on your computer, and look for the Buy with Google Pay logo at the checkout. 

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Using Google Pay on gov.uk

The Government website gov.uk has begun accepting Google Pay and Apple Pay.

As of May 2019, you can pay for the following four services:

  • the Global Entry Service - which enables UK citizens to get expedited entry to the United States
  • online basic DBS checks - these are carried out before people are allowed to work in certain sectors
  • the Registered Traveller Service - which makes it easier for frequent visitors from non-EU countries to enter the UK using modern E-Gates at the border
  • the Electronic Visa Waiver Service - which allows people from four countries in the Middle East to travel more easily to the UK

Mobile payments will be rolled out more widely and to local government, police and the NHS later in 2019. 

How much can I spend using Google Pay?

As with Apple Pay, there is no official spending limit imposed on Google Pay transactions, but some retailers apply their own £30 contactless limit.

For payments in-app, there is no limit. 

Which shops accept Google Pay?

Most of the big retailers accept contactless payments and digital wallets, including Boots, Superdrug, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Lidl, McDonalds, Post Office and Pret a Manger.

At selected retailers, your loyalty points will be automatically applied at checkout.

Which banks support Google Pay?

Google Pay works with MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards from most of the big high street banks but there are a few key players missing, including Barclays and Barclaycard, Metro Bank and Tesco Bank. 

Barclays supports contactless payments on Android devices within its own mobile banking app, for purchases up to £300. 

To set this up, you need the latest version of the Barclays' app installed on your phone (compatible devices automatically show the 'Contactless Mobile' option within the app menu).

Unlike Google Pay, you can’t use Barclays Contactless Mobile for in-app purchases or website payments. 

  Apple Pay Google Pay Samsung Pay
AIB GB Yes Yes No
American Express Yes Yes Yes
Bank of Scotland Yes Yes No
Barclaycard Yes No No
Barclays Yes No No
boon. by Wirecard Yes No No
Cash Passport (Raphaels Bank) Yes No No
Clydesdale Bank (including B Bank) Yes Yes No
Cornèrcard UK Yes No Yes
Cumberland Building Society Yes Yes No
Danske Bank Yes  No Yes
Engage (credit union) No No Yes
First Direct Yes Yes Yes
First Trust Bank Yes Yes No
Halifax Yes Yes No
HSBC Yes Yes Yes
Isle of Man Bank No Yes No
John Lewis Finance Yes Yes Yes
Lloyds Yes Yes No
N26 Yes No No
M&S Bank Yes Yes Yes
MBNA Yes Yes No
Metro Bank Yes No No
Monzo Yes Yes No
Nationwide Building Society Yes Yes Yes
NatWest Yes Yes No
Revolut No Yes No
Royal Bank of Scotland Yes Yes No
Prepaid Financial Services No No Yes
Santander Yes Yes Yes
Sodexo Yes No No
Starling Bank Yes Yes Yes
Tesco Bank Yes No No
The Co-operative Bank (including Smile) Yes Yes Yes
Thomas Cook Cash Passport (Raphaels Bank) Yes No No
TSB Yes Yes No
Ulster Bank Yes Yes No
Yorkshire Bank (including B Bank) Yes Yes No

 

Correct at May 2019

 

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