Tech for your connected self

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

Apple Pay is now available in a string of markets around the globe, letting you pay from the wrist 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. And as a result, it's no surprise that we've seen equivalents from Android, Fitbit and Garmin all develop and take shape over the course of the past year. But how do you set up Apple Pay, and where on Earth can you pay with it?

Essential reading: Apple Pay versus the rest

Well, fear not. If you want to know which stores will let you tap and pay with your watch, as well as the restrictions in your territory, read on below.

Any questions about Apple Pay on the Apple Watch? Let us know in the comments section below.

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 to the 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 & 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. Simples.

How do I use my Apple Watch to pay?

Now you're all set up it's time to start splashing the cash from the wrist.

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 you should hear a tone (or feel a vibration) and receive a tick on the watch face almost instantly.

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 25 countries (with more expected to be added in 2018), including Australia, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, UK, Ireland and the USA. Even the Vatican City is now involved, meaning the Pope himself can harness the power of contactless wrist payment.

There's a solid infrastructure in place, too. Take the UK as an example, where more than 250,000 card machines are capable of NFC transactions. 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 this can vary depending on your bank. For example, Apple itself indicates that purchases of more than $50 may require a signature. The standard contactless limit with an NFC card is £30 in the UK, but earlier this year it was revealed that 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, so don't expect it from everyone just yet.

And for those outside the UK and US who need a little more info on just what limits are in store, check out Apple's support page. Generally, though, the same rules apply - limits may exist to tolerate older NFC tech, but this should increasingly become less of a problem.

Apple Pay v Apple Pay Cash

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

So, what's the difference here? Well, while we've gone into depth elsewhere about how to use Apple Pay Cash, it's worth pointing out the difference it holds to Pay here, as well.

Essentially, while Apple Pay is the Cupertino company's platform for contactless payments, allowing you to digitise your wallet, Apple Pay Cash is its way of simplifying peer-to-peer payments. If you need to send your friend $10, for example, you can do this through iMessage by using Cash. Once you do, this will be represented in Wallet and free for the person to use instantly — forming the money into what's basically a pre-paid debit card.

Apple's two payment systems work concurrently with one another, and can both be used from the Apple Watch or your iPhone.

More Apple Watch guides

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How to use the Apple Watch

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The best Apple Watch apps

Apple Watch untethered guide

Add music to your Apple Watch

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