Apple Pay – that great feature I never use

By , May 20, 2016

Apple Pay

Like everybody, I was really excited when Apple released Apple Pay to the public in October of 2014. The idea of paying for physical goods or services, in a store, with my iPhone felt like the future we had been promised was finally available.

Fast-forward eighteen months, and I am now facing the sad realization that I barely use Apple Pay. It’s not entirely Apple’s fault either.

There are several reasons why I don’t use Apple Pay as often as I would want to. The most obvious one is that the technology needed at the point of sale has not made its way to the majority of stores in my area. Von’s, 7-11, Shell, and other locations I frequently visit don’t support contactless payments. Only a few stores like Walgreens, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods do, but these are still in the minority. I’m not sure where you live, but from my experience traveling to different locations across the country, this seems to be the same situation everywhere.

And because Apple Pay (or contactless payments in general) aren’t supported in the majority of places, it’s basically a gamble to go to a store and pull out your iPhone to try to pay. I’ve tried that before in the early days of Apple Pay. Even stores that are equipped with compatible payment terminals don’t always have the feature activated. So it looks like you can pay with your iPhone, but the cashier looks at you like you’ve just landed from Mars as he tells you this store doesn’t “take phone payments.” Ultimately, I ended up giving up and now I don’t even bother anymore, unless I am at a location I know for a fact accepts Apple Pay.

This is a big problem. If I know I can’t reliably and constantly pay with Apple Pay, how am I supposed to break my old habit of using a credit card?

It’s not completely Apple’s fault either. Sure the company has done a terrible job at promoting the service to both users and merchants, but can it be held accountable for the slow adoption of contactless payment terminals? Absolutely not. This is something the merchant himself is responsible for. Thankfully, it seems things are about to change.

As of October 2015, merchants that do not offer support for chip card technology may be held responsible in case of fraudulent transactions. This has been forcing most merchants to update their point of sale system to offer support for chip technology and NFC at the same time, but as you can imagine, this transition will still take time and money.

Where Apple Pay works, I also find the promise of rapidity to not always be the case. More often than not when paying with Apple Pay in stores, it takes for seemingly ever to go through the process: take the phone out of the pocket, double tap the Home button to choose the right credit card, bring phone near the terminal, confirmation appears on the phone, put the phone back in the pocket, cashier tells you payment didn’t actually go through, repeat process, wait for transaction to go through, done. Finally.

I’m not even making it up. This situation happens to me more often than not.

In contrast, I never have a problem using my physical credit card. I use a minimalist wallet with my main card on top. It takes less time to pull my wallet out of my pocket and slide my American Express than trying to pay with my iPhone. And when I use my credit card, I know for sure the payment will go through, without having me stand there awkwardly tapping my phone on the payment terminal, hoping I won’t look too much like a dork.

I want to use Apple Pay because it’s just more convenient (and safer too) than it is to carry credit cards on me. But there are too many factors that really stop me from committing to this otherwise awesome feature at this time.

Depending on where you live, you might have a similar or completely different experience, so please do share it with us in the comments section below.

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  • Nathan Entwistle

    I’m in the UK and I use Apple Pay on almost all my sub £30 transactions. While the US is stuck with few contactless payment kiosks, they’re pretty much everywhere here. It’s a pleasant change of pace for us in the UK to have the advantage for a change.

    • Agneev Mukherjee

      That’s very nice to hear…

    • Linton Findlay

      completely agree, nearly everywhere i shop does it now. even weekly shop at Morrisons or Waitrose i use it for. Not to mention how good it is to use on TFL if i cant be bothered to top my oyster up. RIP the need for cash

    • Franklin Richards

      Can’t agree more. Travelling with Apple Pay is a joy too.

    • craig

      yea i find quite a few places here in the uk to use apple pay so its not too bad, my only slight upset which is good in some ways i suppose is the limit, id like to be able to pay for stuff over the £30 limit with apple pay, but all in all id say it was a good step in the right direction.

    • I’m in the UK too. I use it everywhere that supports it. I’m still naffed that Asda doesn’t support it, nor do they have plans to.

    • Disasterpiece

      Agreed. I’m in the UK as well and I use Apple Pay like it’s going out of style

  • Agneev Mukherjee

    Here in India, 98% don’t know what NFC is.. forget Apple Pay, I just downloaded Boon and the next time I’ll visit a McD, I plan to experiment it out when there is no queue. Bet the cashier will be confused 100%.

    • Aman kapoor

      dont even try bruh, ive tried it at like 5 McDonalds and none of them had contactless payments available , i ended up paying in cash.

      • Agneev Mukherjee

        Thanks for the warning.. How did you try paying??

      • n0m0n

        Hmmm always works for me at McDonalds.

    • Aman kapoor

      but since im a delhiite i wish they add apple pay to the metro when it launches here so you never have to buy tokens or recharge your cards

      • Agneev Mukherjee

        Yeah, here in Kolkata Metro, we hope that too..

      • samyg

        Lol you really think Kolkata is going to get that advanced anytime soon? Don’t wait for it, I’d suggest.

      • Agneev Mukherjee

        I just hope for it, even though there is a 0.0000001% chance for it.

  • avd98

    Here in Brazil I can promise you 95% of the population don’t have any idea of what NFC is. We are technologically late and everything here is pretty expensive, mainly when using credit cards when only 5% of the population has one. Nevertheless we have one of the biggest economies in the whole world. If Apple decides to implement this feature here, they would have to invest heavily in ads, specially when you have only two Apple Stores in the whole country. But honestly, it would be a mistake to invest money in this feature right now in Brazil, given the economic crisis and recession we have been going throught for the last 5 years.

  • Tom Piotrowski

    Same in Australia. Wherever contactless payments are accepted and thats nearly everywhere, ApplePay can be used. Of course we have a different kind of limitation. Whilst ApplePay has been available for several months to American Express cards holders, the same service is available to Visa from one bank only, only, the ANZ Bank. That did not stopped hordes of people to apply for Visa debit or credit card from ANZ just for the sake of having it attached to ApplePay, a move undoubtedly welcomed by bank. Frankly, besides of some petty cash purchases, I have now stopped carrying my leather wallet with me and am using ApplePay everywhere.

    • Greg S

      Looks like i’ll join the hoard.

      Book me in for a ANZ Visa debit card on Monday please. Good bye leather wallet.
      Well my wife and kids are with ANZ so it sort of makes sense…

      • Dodgy Debjit

        Can’t quite see the attraction. As you say, we have contactless nearly everywhere (in Aus) so its not such a big deal as in the US. However you still have to carry the physical card for places that don’t accept contactless or if it doesn’t work or to get cash at an ATM. So its just a bit of a novelty right now.
        When I can reliably use the phone at all merchants and ATMs and can leave all my physical cards at home then I’ll be interested.

      • Greg S

        I suppose the kicker for me is that I don’t have a tap n go card and never have. The small Credit Union I bank with hasn’t offered one.

        So Monday lunchtime I go contactless… to enjoy it Aus & worldwide.

        (I wonder how Holland’s rollout has progressed. My family is 1/2 Dutch).

      • James

        Pretty much everywhere that offers card facilities (in Aus) has contactless and our limit is $100. The banks here also offer a service where you can get money from an ATM without your card if you have the mobile app.

        What would be more interesting is if apple opens up the nfc to developers then essentially you can replace every card in your wallet.

  • Linton Findlay

    I love how quick it is, the UK has rolled it out very quickly, to the point to say if they have contactless they have Apple pay too. the only irritating thing is the lockscreen function (double tap home button) is completely hit and miss, activating when i dont want it to, or not working when i need it too!

  • Paul Dionysius

    I think you can use Apple Pay a little bit efficiently. Firstly, no need to double tap the home button, just hold the phone to the reader and your cards pop up, quick flick to choose a card. Secondly, if you are using your default card then just hold your fingers on the plate and let it scan. The card barely flashes up on the screen before it is authenticated. It works even better with an Apple Watch. Double tap and put it near the reader. I don’t know how much quicker it could be. I’m yet to have it fail on me…

    I’ve been using it for months with AMEX (got it solely for Apply Pay) and used it happily everywhere AMEX was accepted (all supermarkets supported it without a transaction charge). Now that ANZ support Apple Pay I also leave my physical wallet at home. At the local bakery that is as small as a small business can be, Apple Pay worked great. The only look I received is the look of amazement that I can pay with my watch!

    What I don’t understand is why Apple went to America with this first. They could have had a high adoption rate if they had looked to UK/Australia first… Showing how easy and welcomed the technology is may have encouraged retailers to make the effort to support Apple Pay.

    It is rare for Australia to be ahead of anyone with technology, thankfully we have this right…

    • Agneev Mukherjee

      You are so lucky Amex recognizes Apple Pay, here in India, NO ONE takes Apple Pay. *sob* * sob*

    • Greg Warren

      Going to a country with low adoption rate, but a strong userbase first makes a lot of sense. They can iron out the problems while simultaneously generating buzz and demand. The rollout has been painfully slow here in the USA though unfortunately.

    • Dodgy Debjit

      Because the USA doesn’t have contactless payments, they don’t even have chips yet! So its much more “exciting” for them to have this new-fangled contactless system. A lot of the rest of the world have had contactless for ages so its no biggie.

  • Geoffrey Spencer

    In Canada, most POS terminals support tap-and-pay. If I face one without it like my physiotherapist, I complain and threaten to take my business elsewhere. Take the scene from “Shawshank Redemption”, complain enough and you will get your library.

  • Jack Wong

    Every new product takes few years to grow.

    If I could use my smartphone to pay for my subway/bus fare in NYC, it would be very useful… I hope it would happen before they have something new to replace it.

  • fiiiiine

    I pay with Apple Pay all the time.. vending machines at work, Whole Foods almost every day, Walgreens, CVS, a natural grocery store called Wheatsville, Buccees on road trips… I know I’m forgetting many

    • Flabalanche

      CVS? They shut the NFC function down where I live.

      • fiiiiine

        Maybe not CVS. sorry

  • Burge

    You can scan your finger print before you get to the checkout you get a minute before you have todo it again. So while the items are being scanned you can get your iPhone ready for the payment.

  • Rob

    I’m in the uk too, I’d say about half the places I go to support Apple Pay. Even went to a food festival at the weekend and about half of the outside stalls supported it, saved me from running out of cash 🙂 can’t wait until even more places adopt Apple Pay.

  • Chinch07

    I’m in NYC and Long Island and I use it more times then not. Even my mom and pop pharmacy is outfitted with a NFC POS system.

  • ready1take1

    Use it at Walgreens, whole foods, Sprouts, and a few other places. It’s so much better and feels a lot safer than the old technology of swiping a magnetic strip on a card. It’ll take a while, but I bet in 5-10 years it will be just as common to pay that way, and hopefully no one will need a cards anymore.

    • Jon20

      Do you find that you have to still out your pin in at Whole Foods? Every time I use it there, I have to put a PIN number in. I’ve used it at Sprouts and all I have to do is use Touch ID and I’m done. It’s actually a pretty fast transaction. Let me know. I’m curious. Thanks.

      • ready1take1

        hmmmm that’s interesting, haven’t experienced that yet. Is it your pin to the debit card?

      • Jon20

        Yes. I thought it was because I was using a check/debit card but then when I used it at Sprouts, I realized that shouldn’t have been the case because I didn’t have to put my pin with them. They must not be using it right which justifies what Sebastian is saying in this article. The businesses need to understand how it works in order to encourage customers to use the payment process. I’m sure Whole Foods is paying a percentage to be able to have that type of payment process in their stores so it would only be to their benefit to have the employees use it properly.

      • ready1take1

        Totally agree and that’s what we have to wait on. I was at a Subway in a small town a couple months ago and they were advertising the fact that they use Apple Pay, but when I tried to use it, it didn’t work, and no one there knew how to get it working. They also told me I was the only one that’s tried to pay with my phone. Luckily I had my card with me.

  • I don’t use it often, but when I need it I’m glad I have it. I recently forgot my wallet, and was absolutely starving. I remembered Apple Pay, and my day was saved!

  • T. Allen

    Here in Atlanta, there are quite a few places to use it but what is the advantage and you’re still having to answer 3 or 4 questions at the terminal and you still have to go into your wallet and show your ID. I might as well keep using my credit card if it’s not gonna do what it depicts on the commercial and you just scan and go.

    • igorsky

      At the very least you won’t have to hand off your physical card to someone else. Any time you hand your card over there’s an opportunity for theft and/or fraud.

      • T. Allen

        True.

  • Stefano Polo

    I was just introduced to an Apple Pay feature that I didn’t know existed until recently and it’s amazing. In-App purchases!!!

    I used Touch Tunes and when I need to add more money to my account, instead of supplying my Credit Card info, I’m able to pay with Apple Pay. It’s so simple and so seamless. I don’t know why most apps don’t have this feature but this is far better and safer since you’re not supplying your CC info to each and every 3rd party.

  • ranova

    I never used Apple Pay when I had the i6 and i6s. However, I use Samsung Pay almost all the time. Why? Because it works at almost every register I’ve been to because of MST technology that lets it work wherever theres a typical card swiper. Apple needs something like this.

    • igorsky

      Let me know how Samsung Pay works for you when MST is eventually turned off at every terminal in the US.

      • ranova

        Then I’ll just use NFC based payments like Apple Pay which will hopefully be more prevalent by the time that happens..

    • queenren

      This! I use Samsung Pay all of the time! I rarely used Apple Pay for the same reason. SP works almost anywhere and works with the old and newer swipe machines. It’s genius!

  • f1ght3r

    I’m in Canada and I haven’t had to use my credit or debit card since Apple Pay launched with major banks a few weeks ago. I love the future.

  • Anonymous

    Im in the usa and in most cases i use apple pay.

  • mlk

    Apple Pay isn’t even available in Spain.
    The funny thing is, the vast majority of merchants in Madrid have up and working contactless payment systems.
    I use an old non-contacless credit card, and clerks keep putting it close to the machine, and it’s me who is tired of saying, “Sorry, it doesn’t work.”
    They smile knowingly like they are thinking “oh, we have an old customer twentieth century style.”
    Of course, I smile back.

  • igorsky

    “It’s not completely Apple’s fault either.”

    It’s not Apple’s fault at all. This is completely on retailers. No excuse for contactless payments not be activated at any terminal with NFC capability. The problem is that Apple Pay is a service for consumers and values privacy; retailers want to mine your data.

    And the way Apple Pay is implemented is also all on the individual retailers. Shop at Walgreen’s? Place your phone on the terminal and you’re done…no signature or pin required for debit or credit cards. Rite Aid? Basically the same as using a physical card.

    • Anonymous

      Are you sure for the devit card? Because when i use my debit card it still ask for a pin. Unless the terminal always runs it as credit. Which I personally perpher it to be ran as credit.

  • Mike Colacone Saal

    I literally use it every day

    Both my local markets accept it, the gas station I visit accepts it, I go to panera for lunch pretty often at work and they accept it, and of course at work, Best Buy accepts it. I swipe my card for less than a quarter of my purchases.

  • Anthony

    I’m in Canada and it’s been about a week since it launched here (aside from American Express) and it’s been amazing. It seems to work everywhere I’ve tried. Tap on credit/debit cards has been here for a while so Apple Pay was a no brainer. I haven’t carried my wallet in the past week and it’s been great. Can’t wait until I can have my driver’s license in my phone and I’ll have no cards at all.

    • Many99

      Don’t forget about your health card and presto card ( transit card) on your phone

      • Anthony

        Oh ya forgot about the health card

  • Benedict

    In Germany there is no Apple Pay yet. Also most people do not like to use a credit card because they want to keep track of their expenses instantly – not with a monthly receipt. That’s why debit cards or even cash is used in about 9/10 cases. Master or Visa cards are only used for bigger amounts.
    I doubt that Apple Pay or other services will support direct debit service when they are available here. That’s why those systems will only serve a marginal group of people.

  • Jeremy Spencer

    I’ve never had anywhere not support it. Anywhere that accepts debit you can expect Apple Pay to be supported to for about 90% of the time. Even my high school cafeteria works with Apple Pay and the tiny variety store down the street. I haven’t had any problems with it, it’s great here! Tried to use it on trips to the US and the vast majority of retailers don’t support it.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah the us is slow to change sometimes.

      • Anonymous

        However, I still am able to use it in most cases. Maybe my shopping habits have revoled around store with nfc chips lol

  • Mark Swain

    I’m in the UK, I use it all the time, I use my Apple Watch to make payments. Why don’t you use your watch Sebastian? It’s much easier than getting your phone out & doubling tapping the home button.

  • Bugs Bunnay

    Lol seb your proccess of paying with apple pay seems painful and slow. If you don’t see a check sign from the phone then it didn’t go through. To me it works faster than credit card with a chip.

    • No, very often, I hear the “ding” and see the checkmark, yet the cashier tells me it didn’t go through.

      • Bugs Bunnay

        Whoa. I must be very lucky. It’s pretty smooth and fluid on my end lol.

  • James G

    I’m finding the promise of Apple Pay to fall short of expectations here in the US at retail locations. But I am enjoying it in apps on iOS like Eat24 and Groupon and others. Apple Pay on the Mac would be welcomed too if they could find a way to send a confirmation with the tap of Touch ID.

    Meanwhile, Samsung Pay looks like a better solution than Apple Pay at retail locations. However I don’t fully understand the security differences between the two.

  • Sam Chen

    I live in Los Angeles, and I have a positive experience so far. My initial setup for Apple Pay was my iPhone 5S and Apple Watch. Since 5S cant support Apple Pay i purchased Apple watch to leverage that benefit. Most of the time vendor is to slow for me to set their terminal to take my payment, and I never ran into an issue where i had to rescan. Now there are more vendor who utilize the Credit card processing solution by “Square” and alike which supports NFC payment. I surprised few vendors never had an opportunity to use that feature, and they were impressed the convenience and security. The adaptation of this technology is slow but coming.

  • Phil Randle

    From Australia and I use it on evertthing, but I’m sorry to say, our NFC penetration is leaps and bounds above the US. We have it everywhere, right down to the local market kiosks.

    AMEX doesn’t seem to have a transaction limit and ANZ is $100. I have also seen a lot of people using it.

  • Steven Miller

    I completely agree Sebastian. I used to get excited when I saw a terminal that looked like it accepted contactless payments (with, you know, the sideways wifi looking symbol) until being told by the clerk that it’s either not working or set up to work. Why do so many places have new technology that they refuse to set up? I used to use Apple Pay at McDonald’s drive thru, but it took more time and seemed like a hassle because McDonald’s employees have to physically hold their point of sale device outside the window. It’s not apple’s fault but more places need to figure this out.

  • Martin Newman

    I can use Apple Pay almost anywhere. Like the previous comment, I’m in the UK.

    We’ve been ahead of the US in this sort of technology for many years. We had debit cards before they did too.

    Come on you Yanks, keep up!!!

  • iByron

    Apple Pay has saved me some time and frustration. It’s available at all of my “go-to” drug stores (Walgreens, Rite Aid) and grocery stores (Acme, Whole Foods) which for me is where it’s most convenient.

    And then there was that time I left the house without my wallet. Thank Silicon Valley for Apple Pay!

  • Liam J. Kowalski

    In Austria, 90% of the stores and shops (even small ones) accept card payment. And since every debit and credit card since 2010 has a NFC chip in it, most of the stores have contactless terminals implemented and people use it because it’s convenient and quick (transactions are limited to 25 EUR per transaction, go higher and you’ll need to enter the PIN; after 5 times of PIN-less contactless payment, you’ll need to enter the PIN regardless of transaction sum). But you know what? We don’t even have Apple Pay.

    It’s always like that with Austria. Even if we’re technologically advanced, international companies come to us last. We didn’t even have the iPhone 2G. The first one sold was the 3GS. We’ll need to wait for Apple to implement it in Germany. After that (maybe) it’ll come to us. Because international companies often pretend Austria is a part of Germany. <.<