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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 and Android Pay? Is Google Pay and Android Pay safe? How do I use Google Pay and  Android Pay?
Which shops accept Google Pay and Android Pay? Which banks support Google Pay and Android Pay?

What is Google Pay and Android 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 2015.

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 enables even more people to use their smartphones for contactless payments and in-app purchases.

It 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.

 

Is Google Pay and Android 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 do I use Google Pay and  Android Pay?

Once you've downloaded the Google Pay/Android Pay app from Google Play, 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. 

For transactions under £30, you simply hover your phone over any contactless payment terminal. If you’re spending more than this, 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. 

Find out more: how to choose the best mobile phone

Which shops accept Google Pay and Android Pay?

Most of the big retailers accept contactless payments, 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.

Android also supports payments within other apps (such as JD Sports, Deliveroo and YPlan), which means you can tap a button to checkout without having to enter your card details and delivery address each time.

Which banks support Google Pay and Android Pay?

Google Pay works with MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards from:

  • AIB
  • Amex
  • Bank of Scotland
  • B Bank
  • Clydesdale Bank
  • The Co-operative Bank
  • The Cumberland
  • first direct
  • First Trust Bank
  • Halifax
  • HSBC
  • Isle of Man Bank
  • John Lewis
  • Lloyds Bank
  • M&S Bank
  • MBNA
  • Monzo
  • Nationwide
  • NatWest
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Santander
  • smile
  • Starling Bank
  • TSB
  • Ulster Bank
  • Yorkshire Bank
  • Revolut

If you want to use one of these cards, an alternative 'Amex Pay' app works on iPhone 5 onwards and Android devices running KitKat 4.4 or above.  

Barclays also supports contactless payments on Android devices within its own mobile banking app.

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).

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