With Britain becoming more cashless, we’ve seen a rise in people using mobile payment apps instead of traditional wallets. So we explore the features of five well-known apps.
How do payment apps work?
Payment apps are quick and easy to use. Gone are the days of having to enter your card details every time you buy something online. All you need to do is download a payment app to your device from the App Store or Google Play. Then enter your card details (just the once) and you’re ready to go.
Some apps let you transfer money to and from your contacts using just their email address or mobile number. You can also make online purchases, in-app purchases, or contactless payments in-store. So next time you accidentally leave your bank card at home, there’s no need to fret. You’ll have a virtual wallet available on your phone.
When you buy something through an app, the money comes out of your bank account as normal. Depending on which app you use, a record is often kept of your transactions - much like a bank statement. So you can monitor your spending as you go.
They are usually free to set up with no charge for purchases made using your debit card details. Bear in mind that each app comes with its own terms and conditions, and fees may apply if you use your credit card details or convert currencies for example.
Let’s take a look at the five well-known apps available (in no particular order):
PayPal started as a way to pay for items on eBay, but now it’s one of the biggest payment platforms in the world. You can download the app using both Android & iOS devices. You must be at least 18 years old to use it. Simply answer a few questions and pop in your card details.
Paying people through PayPal is simple. You don’t need their bank details - just their email address or mobile number. Your recipient will also need to set up a PayPal account to ensure transactions go through smoothly.
Once you’re up and running, you can use your mobile to pay at contactless machines (usually for purchases up to £30, depending on the retailer). So say goodbye to rooting around for your purse at the till.
The PayPal app can also be used to collect money from your mates. It comes with a Money Pool feature, which is useful if you’ve paid for a group event because you can use it to chase up contributions, for example.
Google Pay (previously known as Google Wallet) is designed specifically for Android devices. You can download the app for free via Google Play, and you must be 16 years old or over to use it. All Google products are integrated, so if you’ve already got a Google account then you should be able to log in using your current details.
With Google Pay, there’s also the option to add your loyalty cards, reward, membership, gift cards and vouchers - as well as your debit/credit cards. This way you can still get the benefits of the loyalty points and discounts when you pay through your phone.
Like PayPal, Google Play enables you to make contactless purchases in the shops. Simply hold your phone near the card reader at the checkout. You can also make online and in-app purchases.
In addition, the app allows you to transfer money to your contacts using their email address or mobile phone number. Your recipients will receive a notification with instructions on how to claim the money from you.
The Apple Pay app is specifically for iOS devices and you can download the app for free from the App Store. You need an up-to-date iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac to access it (see their website for full details). And you need to be aged 13 or over.
This app allows you to add store cards, boarding passes, cinema tickets, vouchers, rewards cards and student ID cards to your virtual wallet, on top of debit and credit cards. This is perfect for those occasions where you’ve forgotten your wallet, and it enables you to keep everything safe in one place. In fact, you could probably leave your wallet at home on purpose.
Unfortunately, in the UK you cannot send or receive payments to your contacts through Apple Pay yet (this is possible in the US only).
But you can make contactless payments, as well as in-app and online purchases. This takes the faff out of having to enter your payment details every time you buy something.
The Samsung Pay app is available on selected Samsung devices and you can use it for online, in-app or contactless payments. You may be able to make contactless payments over £30 if the retailer accepts this. You can also add loyalty cards to the app so you can continue to collect points when you go shopping.
You’ll receive a notification each time you make a transaction, but you won’t receive a separate physical or digital receipt from Samsung Pay. And unfortunately, like Apple Pay, you cannot transfer money to friends and family using this app in the UK.
Pingit is a payment app established by Barclays. But you don’t have to bank with them to use it. It’s available for free on both Android and iOS devices. And you have to be aged 16 years or over to use it.
It works slightly differently from other phone apps. Your Pingit account is kept separate from your bank account. So you can move money from your current account to your Pingit account when you need to. Any money you receive will go straight into your Pingit account.
There’s also a Pingit contactless cup (£14.99) to make it even easier to buy hot or cold drinks without trying to juggle them with your purse. For alternative cups and ways to save money at the cafe, check out which coffee shops offer the best discounts for using eco coffee cups.
It’s convenient for everything from paying people, getting paid, buying things to fundraising. All you need is a phone number to transfer funds. You can even set money to the side in separate ‘money jars’ (e.g. for holidays or living expenses) to help you organise your finances.
Additionally, if you find asking people for money awkward, Pingit could help you to overcome this. All you need to do is create a link and share it with your contacts to request the money, in three easy steps. Your recipients don’t have to have Pingit, but if you invite them you could earn up to £50.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.