How to set up and use Apple Pay on your Apple Watch

Everything you need to know about paying for stuff with your Apple Watch
How and where to use Apple Pay

Apple Pay is now available in the US and the UK (along with Canada, France, Australia and more), which lets you pay using your Apple Watch. And even better news is that it's mega easy to set up and use.

It's one of the key benefits of the Apple Watch, and a tangible wearable tech feature that people can use and enjoy. But how do you set up Apple Pay and where on Earth can you pay with it?

Essential reading: Ultimate Apple Watch guide

Fear not. If you want to know which stores you can tap and pay with your watch just read our guide.

How to set up Apple Pay on Apple Watch

If you're an Apple Watch and iPhone user, it may surprise you to know that the two devices work independently of each other, when it comes to Apple Pay.

Despite the symbiotic nature of the two devices, they use individual and unlinked Passbook apps, which means you can use two separate cards. It also means you can pay for stuff without your iPhone present, which is great news if you're out for a run, or nipping down to the local shop for some milk.

The process is exactly the same. On the Apple Watch app (on your iPhone) you need to fire up the Wallet and Apple Pay app. You can then choose to Add Credit or Debit card. If you want to set up on your iPhone, you do this through the Passbook app on your phone.

Essential reading: Apple Watch tips and tricks

If you haven't set up a passcode on the Apple Watch you will be prompted to do this. Apple Pay won't work without it – so that would-be thieves can't make payments from your smartwatch.

Once that's all set up, the process is fairly straightforward. You scan your card using your phone's camera, and update any missing information. Once you finish, you'll be sent an email or SMS with a verification code – which you need to enter into the phone app. Once verified, a confirmation that you're ready to go will pop up on the Apple Watch.

How do I use my Apple Watch to pay?

Now you're all set up it's time to start paying.

On the Apple Watch just approach the contactless receiver – be it at a store front counter or a London Underground barrier – and double tap the side button (the one used to summon the Instant Launch dock on the latest Apple Watch).

A picture of your card will appear, and it's ready to go. Just hold your Apple Watch to the card reader and wait a few seconds. The seconds can go frustratingly slowly when you're at the front of the queue, but in a few moments it should be recognised.

For iPhone users, the NFC chip should fire up the Passbook app when it's close to the contactless reader. Just keep your finger – one registered for Touch ID – held to the button and then hold against the reader to make the payment.

Where can I use my Apple Watch to pay?

In terms of territories, Apple Pay is now available in 16 countries including Australia, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and USA. The most recent addition to the list is Italy.

There's already a very decent contactless payment infrastructure, certainly in the UK, with around 250,000 card machines capable of NFC transactions across the country. As Apple Pay on Apple Watch uses that existing system, all merchants who've already got one installed should already find that people can tap and pay with their smartwatch.

So, the bottom line is to expect to be able to do it wherever you normally might be able to with a credit or debit card.

How much can I spend?

In the US, the contactless payment limit is usually set to $25 though it can vary depending on your bank. The standard contactless limit with an NFC card is £30 in the UK but now half of terminals in the country support transactions of any amount.

Apple Pay through the Apple Watch involves that PIN authorisation when you first put the smartwatch on, and that added safety means that retailers are free to ditch the contactless limit should they wish to.

Boots in the UK, for example, confirmed early on that it will allow payments of any amount using your Apple Watch and now Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Pizza Express, Nando's and more have followed. It will, however, require the merchants to upgrade from the standard NFC equipment which they already have installed.

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