Got questions about mobile wallets? Our guide to Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Google Pay has all the answers about operation, security and rewards
If you have considered ditching your old-fashioned plastic credit card and switching to a mobile wallet but haven’t yet, you have plenty of company.
In its Mobile Wallet Adoption 2020 study, PYMNTS.com reported that few consumers use mobile wallets to make purchases in stores. According to the research, just 5.1% of consumers reported using Apple Pay at the point-of-sale in early to mid-March 2020, while just 3.3% said they used Walmart Pay.
The PYMNTS study suggests that the vast majority of consumers still prefer using old-fashioned debit and credit cards for their purchases. When PYMNTS asked consumers what payment methods they used to make purchases in the last seven days, just 3.9% of seniors and baby boomers said they used mobile wallets, while just 11.8% of Generation X members said the same. Just 18.5% of bridge millennials said they used mobile wallets, while 19.3% of millennials and 15.5% of Generation Z members said the same.
If you’re debating whether it’s time to start using a mobile wallet, here’s a guide to how they work, what features they offer and how secure payments made with the most popular mobile wallets are.
See related: Online and mobile payment statistics
How mobile wallets work
The most-common mobile wallets are Google Pay, Samsung Pay and Apple Pay, and all come pre-installed on the devices in which they can be used.
- To start using them, add your credit cards to the mobile wallet app of your choice.
- When you are at a store that accepts mobile payments, launch the mobile wallet app on your phone and tap the payment terminal to initiate a payment. Follow the instructions on the app to complete payment.
- See “How to set up the right ‘default’ card on your mobile wallet” or the video below for further details.
- Make sure the mobile wallet you choose works with the credit cards you use – especially if the card was issued by a regional bank. Wallet providers are constantly adding banks and credit unions, but there’s no guarantee your bank’s card will work within a given mobile wallet. Call your card issuers and ask what mobile wallets they support.
- With mobile wallets, you can add not only credit and debit cards but also loyalty cards and even electronic movie tickets and boarding passes.
- You also can see your card’s most recent transactions directly on your mobile wallet, as long as your card issuer allows transactional information. Some issuers may limit the number of transactions displayed on mobile wallets.
- Some card issuers are now offering rewards incentives to encourage mobile wallet/digital wallet adoption. The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card* offers 1.8% cash rewards on qualified digital wallet purchases including Google Pay™ and Apple Pay® during the first 12 months from account opening. The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card provides three times the rewards points when you make eligible mobile wallet purchases using Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
The chart below provides a quick rundown and comparison of the major mobile wallet providers today in terms of security, rewards, functionality and acceptance:
Quick guide: Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Google Pay, at a glance
Check out a comparison of features:
How to use
Are digital wallet transactions secure?
Glenn Fodor, senior vice president and head of information and analytics solutions for Atlanta-based payments technology firm First Data, said one of the reasons only a small percentage of consumers use mobile wallets is security issues.
Consumers worry purchases made with their phones and mobile wallets aren’t secure, and their personal financial data could be exposed, he said.
Video: How to set up your mobile wallet
Mobile wallets, however, provide plenty of security for your purchases. These services rely on data encryption and tokenization so retailers never even see your credit card number.
While mobile wallet transactions are secure, replacing your plastic with your phone comes with other risks. Chief on that list is losing your phone.
In this case, the providers of mobile wallets offer services such as Samsung’s Find My Mobile or Apple’s Find my, which help you locate your phone, lock its screen or block access to the mobile wallet apps remotely.
Cyberthieves or a malware infection are other risks for which you should be on guard. See “3 major mobile payment security risks, and how to avoid them” for further advice on how to prevent these attacks.
Which mobile wallet should you use?
You probably will use the mobile wallet associated with your phone because today there is little difference between the major mobile wallets available.
“And no one is going to switch from a Samsung phone to an iPhone just because of a mobile wallet,” Daniel Csoka, managing director of Mobile Money Matters, said.
This means that if you have an iPhone, it’s easiest to use Apple Pay. It’s easiest to use Samsung Pay if you have a Samsung phone and Google Pay if you have an Android.
You also might use a third-party mobile wallet, such Walmart Pay, which you can use when shopping at Walmart stores.
*All information about the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.