Declared as the mobile wallet to beat, Apple Pay aims to become your preferred choice of payment when you’re out and about. For many of you, this is the first time that you’ve ever even heard about mobile payments. Intimidating? Maybe. So, we took look at what cards work with Apple Pay and how to use Apple Pay so that you can turn an unknown technology into a convenient financial tool.

Apple Pay

Is your card supported?

Firstly, you should know what cards will work with Apple Pay, so you know which cards to link to the mobile wallet and have handy.

Currently, only cards from six partnered financial institutions are supported on the mobile wallet. Fortunately, these six companies issue most of the credit and debit cards that are available in the country. It’s likely that one of your cards will already work with Apple Pay.

See what cards will be supported when Apple Pay launches in October:

Card IssuerSupported Cards for Apple Pay
American ExpressAll U.S. consumer and OPEN cards; corporate cards and prepaid debit cards (Serve and Bluebird) are not supported
Bank of AmericaSpokesperson said list of supported cards is unreleased. (Email to customer mentions Bank of America debit and credit cards)
Capital OneAll Capital One credit and debit cards (including Capital One 360); co-branded cards are coming soon
ChaseSpokesperson decline to provide a list of cards. (Email to customers mentions "many Chase Visa debit and credit cards" will be supported)
CitiSpokesperson did not respond (Press release says U.S. debit and credit cards are supported)
Wells FargoAll active Wells Fargo consumer debit, credit and prepaid cards, Wells Fargo EasyPay Card, Adult Cash Card, Youth Cash Card, Health Savings Account card and all business debit and credit cards

Many of the major U.S. banks have either declined to provide a detailed list of supported cards or do not yet have an official list of supported cards. But, we still have a general idea of what cards will work with Apple Pay (due to official statements made when Apple Pay was announced). American Express, Capital One and Wells Fargo were the only financial institutions that clarified which cards were supported.

If you are ever unsure if your specific card is supported by Apple Pay, just ask your card issuer.

Other financial institutions that will soon make their cards compatible with Apple Pay include Barclaycard, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, U.S. Bank and USAA.

I asked Apple if there were future plans to enable Apple Pay to support any debit or credit card. Unfortunately, an Apple spokesperson declined to comment further on Apple Pay until it has launched.

How to add your cards?

Before adding your card, let’s make sure you have the hardware and software required for Apple Pay.

Supported devices: Apple iPhone 6, Apple iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch (to be released in 2015)
Required operating system: iOS 8

Basically, if you have an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, you’re good to go. In the future, when Apple Watch launches, you’ll need an iPhone 5, 5c or 5s with iOS 8 to use Apple Pay through Apple Watch.

Adding a supported card to Apple Pay can be done in one of two ways:

1. With an already-linked card to iTunes, access the Passbook application and you can pull the card information into Passbook by entering the card’s security code.

2. With Passbook opened and ready to add a new card, point your iPhone’s camera at your card. It will capture the card’s information and create a new payment card. Or, you can enter the information manually.

The first card that you add will be your default payment card.

Where is Apple Pay accepted?

Apple says that you can use Apple Pay to make purchases at more than 220,000 locations, including popular merchants like Bloomingdales, Duane Reade, McDonald’s, Whole Foods and more.

Don’t be fooled. These are not stores that are part of some extensive payment network created by Apple. They already have the payment terminals that accept contactless payments made with certain debit and credit cards.

For instance, any debit or credit card with the Visa payWave or MasterCard PayPass can be tapped at these payment terminals to complete purchase — no swipe needed.

Apple Pay uses the same payment terminal to pay for purchases — you just have to look for the icon below. If you see it on a payment terminal, it accepts Apple Pay.

How do you pay?

Think about how easy it already is to pay with a debit or credit card. That’s part of the reason why people are reluctant to pull out a clunky device (compared to a thin and light plastic card) and access an app to pay for something! This is what Apple Pay has as its competition. Luckily, Apple made it simple for you.

All you have to do is hold your iPhone with your thumb on the home button, and then place it close to the payment terminal — a slight vibration confirms a successful transaction.

You can do this completely from sleep mode. You don’t have to open an app or wake up your display — if I had to do this, it would really discourage me from using Apple Pay.

The one time that you have to actually open an app is if you don’t want to use your default payment card, and you want to use another linked card. You’ll have to make the switch on Passbook.

On a side note, Apple Pay is a checkout option for shopping through mobile apps that accept it. Since Apple Pay saves your billing and shipping information, you don’t have to re-enter it. When you are ready to check out, just select the “Pay with Apple Pay” option.

Worried about missing out on cash back, miles and points from your credit cards? Don’t be. The transactions will be categorized as they should and you’ll earn the same amount of rewards as you would if you swiped your card.

Is it time to ditch the wallet?

The idea behind Apple Pay is to lessen the burden of having to carry a wallet. But, it doesn’t replace your wallet entirely.

Here are a couple of reasons why:

– Not every merchant is capable of accepting mobile payments. According to the Electronic Transactions Association, there are more than 9 million U.S. merchants that accept debit and credit cards. So, the 220,000 locations that accept Apple Pay make up a small 2.4 percent of the U.S. stores that accept debit and credit cards.

– Batteries die. Any smartphone user can relate to this predicament, when all connection to the world is seemingly cut off. In this case, Apple Pay won’t work if your iPhone runs out of that electric juice.

So, keep that wallet handy, just in case. However, I do encourage you to use Apple Pay as often as possible so you don’t have to carry as many credit cards with you.

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