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What is Samsung Pay?

Can mobile payment app Samsung Pay take on rivals Apple Pay and Android Pay? Find out which banks support it and what sets it apart.

In this article
What is Samsung Pay? Is Samsung Pay better than Apple or Google Pay? Is Samsung Pay safe? How do I set up Samsung Pay?
Using Samsung Pay in stores and online How much can I spend using Samsung Pay? Which banks support Samsung Pay?

What is Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay is a mobile payments service that launched in the UK in May 2017, competing with tech giants such as Apple and Google. 

It lets you buy goods and services in any shop using your Samsung device where you can swipe or tap your card. Samsung Pay acts like a digital wallet by storing all of your payment cards.


Is Samsung Pay better than Apple or Google Pay?

In the US, one thing that sets Samsung Pay apart from rivals Google Pay and Android Pay and Apple Pay is that it can be used much more widely – because it works with older magnetic stripe terminals, not just those that use near-field communication (NFC) to process contactless payments. 

Technology called magnetic secure transmission (MST) sends a small signal from a smartphone to the card reader and this mimics the signal produced when you swipe a physical card.

However, this is of little benefit in the UK, where most terminals have replaced the old magstripe system with contactless card readers. 

With little else separating the various mobile payment apps, users may choose to stick with Android Pay for now, which is compatible with more devices and supported by more banks.

Find out more: Apple vs Samsung mobile phones – head to head in our lab tests

Is Samsung Pay safe?

As with Apple Pay and Android Pay, Samsung Pay uses tokenisation and biometric technology to protect users:

  • Card details are never stored on the device or shared with the retailer. 
  • Each card stored in the app is replaced with a device account number (also called a token).  
  • Every time you make a payment, this token is used instead of your actual credit or debit card number.
  • Payments must always be authorised via fingerprint or Pin so this should stop most thieves in their tracks. 

The latest Samsung phones, including the Galaxy S9, are equipped with iris-scanning technology, enabling users to verify payments using their eyes. 

Samsung says 'iris patterns are almost impossible to replicate' and you can only register the iris pattern of one person on each device.

If you’re registered with Samsung’s 'Find My Mobile' service, you can remotely lock your phone and delete payment cards stored the Samsung Pay app. 

If you find your phone later, you can unlock your cards by scanning your fingerprint or entering your Pin.


How do I set up Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay is currently compatible with: Samsung Galaxy S10e, S10, S10+, S9, S9+, Note9, S8, S8+, Note8, S7, S7 edge, S6 and S6 edge+ (must have Android Nougat 7.0 software update), Samsung Galaxy A70, A50, A40 (Android software and Galaxy App store updates are required), A9, A8, A6, A5 & A3 2017, J6+ and J4+, Samsung Galaxy Watch Active, Galaxy Watch 4G, Galaxy Watch, Gear S3 & Gear Sport. 

Browse our Samsung smartphone reviews to see how we’ve rated compatible models. 

The app is pre-installed on most Galaxy models, but if this isn't the case you can download it for free from the Google Play Store. 

Adding cards is easy – you can do this manually, or by pressing ‘Add’ which opens up your phone’s camera (align your card inside the frame so that the app can detect your card number and expiration date automatically). 

You can add up to 10 payment cards in total (credit, debit and store cards) but there’s no limit on gift cards. You’ll be asked to verify your cards via a one-time password.

Using Samsung Pay in stores and online

To pay, simply swipe up from the bottom of your phone’s screen (or use your fingerprint) to wake the device up.

Your default card is selected automatically, or you can swipe left/right to pay with a different card. 

You’ll then be invited to authenticate the payment by placing a finger on the home button. If you’re using your Samsung Pay Pin instead, you’ll need to enter your 4-digit code.

The entire process takes seconds and a notification instantly confirms the transaction (this information is also saved within the Samsung Pay app).

You can return items just as you would if you had paid with a physical card. The retailer can simply match the information on your receipt to the last four digits of your digital card number in Samsung Pay (and you simply place your device near the payment terminal to complete the refund).  

Your phone doesn't need to be online for in-store payments, although you always need an active internet connection to add payment cards and access transaction history.

If you're using Samsung Pay for Transport for London (TfL) services, you can select a default ‘transport card’ which means you can touch the middle section of your phone against the card reader, without needing to wake your phone or verify the transaction.

You can also make payments in apps and on websites where you see Samsung Pay Checkout button. 


How much can I spend using Samsung Pay?

As with Apple Pay and Google Pay, a limit of £30 may apply even if you choose to pay with your digital wallet, as retailer terminals may not be able to support higher transactions.

In these cases, you will need to need to authenticate the payment with your card Pin. 

Which banks support Samsung Pay?

The table below tells you which banks and credit card companies support Samsung Pay. Many of the big UK banks are yet to start supporting Samsung Pay. 

If your bank isn't yet on board, you'll need to choose an alternative mobile payment service (in some cases, such as Barclays, the bank will offer its own payment app). 

  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
Clydesdale Bank Yes Yes No
Cornèrcard UK Yes No Yes
Coutts Yes No No
Cumberland Building Society Yes Yes No
Curve Yes Yes Yes
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
M&S Bank Yes Yes Yes
MBNA Yes Yes No
Metro Bank Yes Yes No
Monzo Yes Yes No
Nationwide Building Society Yes Yes Yes
NatWest Yes Yes No
Revolut Yes Yes No
Royal Bank of Scotland Yes Yes No
Prepaid Financial Services (PFS) No Yes Yes
Santander Yes Yes Yes
Sodexo Yes Yes No
Starling Bank Yes Yes Yes
Tesco Bank Yes No No
The Co-operative Bank (including Smile) Yes Yes Yes
Tide Yes No No
TSB Yes Yes No
Ulster Bank Yes Yes No
Virgin Money Yes No No
Weatherbys Bank No Yes No
Yorkshire Bank Yes Yes No


Correct at October 2020