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How to pay with your Apple Watch using Apple Pay


It's easy to pay for purchases at contactless terminals with an iPhone, but it's even easier with an Apple Watch, thanks to Apple Pay.

pay from apple watch feature

One of the best yet most underrated features of the Apple Watch, including new models like the Apple Watch Series 9, is the ability to access the Apple Wallet app right from your wrist. Then, using Apple Pay (where available) and a virtual credit or debit card from a participating bank, you can pay for items by simply tapping the watch face on the reader. Even though you can pay from the best iPhones as well, being able to twist your wrist and tap means you don’t have to dig the phone out of your pocket, unlock it, and call up the Apple Wallet app.

Using Apple Watch to pay eliminates a few minor steps, but those steps can make all the difference when you’re in a rush to catch a train or make it to an appointment on time. Once you have Apple Pay set up in Apple Wallet on your iPhone, paying for items from the connected Apple Watch is simple.

How to use Apple Pay on your Apple Watch

  1. Before paying for items with Apple Watch, you need to set up Apple Pay on your iPhone, adding your personal credit and/or debit card to the app. Once you have followed these steps and loaded your credit and/or debit card into the app, skip to step 2.
  2. Double-click the side button, and this will instantly open the Apple Wallet app.
  3. Alternatively, you can manually open the Wallet app on your Apple Watch.

    With some Apple Watch faces, including the Modular options like the one shown here, you can add an Apple Wallet complication for one-touch access.

  4. You’ll see a miniature digital version of the card you loaded or flip through multiple cards by scrolling up and down on the screen. When the card you want is on the screen, double-click the side button.
  5. The message Hold Near Reader will appear at the top.
  6. Twist your arm and hold the Watch face close to the contactless payment terminal at the store or venue where you’re trying to purchase something.
  7. You’ll hear the confirmation beep, and the transaction will go through.

How to pay or verify instantly using Express Mode

Did you know that at some compatible transit stations, you don't even need to open the Apple Wallet app and double-click to pay for a ride? You can just hold the Watch up to the payment terminal, and a payment will automatically trigger from a desired transit, credit, or debit card. This also works with some car keys, student IDs, hotel cards, and more. To permit this, you simply need to turn on the Express Mode option for the card.

  1. Open the Wallet app on Apple Watch.
  2. Select the card you want to set up Express Mode for, scroll down, and select Card Details.
  3. Scroll to Express Mode and select.
  4. All your loaded cards will be listed there. Select the card you want to enable Express Mode for. You may be asked to enter your four-digit passcode.

Express Mode is now on, and you can pay at compatible transit spots or gain entry where permitted, as long as Express Mode payments/verification is accepted. Remember that you may only be able to select Express Mode for one card type at a time, like one credit card from the same issuer, one student ID, or one car key. But some do permit multiple passes.

How to review recent transactions on Apple Watch

Once you start paying for items from your wrist, you'll realize just how convenient it is. You can even see all your latest transactions right from the Apple Wallet app on your Apple Watch, so you don't have to go to your banking app.

  1. Open the Apple Wallet app on Apple Watch.
  2. Select the credit or debit card that you want to review purchases from. (If you have multiple loaded, scroll up to toggle through them.)
  3. Tap the card.
  4. Scroll down past Card Details, and you'll see a list of Latest Transactions.
  5. Scroll further, and you'll see the total number of transactions per month.
  6. Tap on any transaction to see a summary including the cost, date and time, merchant name, location, status, and even a map of where the transaction occurred.

Note there are transaction limits with Apple Pay, which vary by country. For example, you can pay for items up to $50 in the U.S., but purchases over that might also require a signature. In Canada, you can use Apple Pay to pay for purchases up to $200 and potentially more, in some cases, without a signature. Most likely, however, you’ll end up using the Watch for smaller purchases of $150 or less.

New and additional features with Apple Pay and Apple Wallet

Apple has been continuously revamping Apple Pay and Apple Wallet, including in iOS 17. Many new features are only accessible from the app on iPhone or iPad, like Order Tracking, Apple Pay Later, ID Verifier, Merchant Tokens, and the ability to pay multiple merchants in a single transaction.

However, others, like Apple Cash, are accessible from an iPhone or an Apple Watch like the Apple Watch Ultra 2. Use this feature to send and receive money from others versus paying at a merchant terminal. This includes recurring payments, like a daily allowance for the kids.

Along with using the Apple Watch to pay in stores, at the gym, or events, it can also come in handy at restaurants. Use the tip and split bill feature in the calculator on the Apple Watch, then pay for your share right from the Watch using the Apple Wallet app. There are so many ways you can use the feature. It will quickly become your go-to payment method, and you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.

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