One of the major new features introduced with the iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 is Apple Pay, an easy and secure way to pay for goods and services both at physical locations and online. The concept of using your iPhone for payment isn’t anything new. Take a trip to any local Starbucks and you’re guaranteed to see people whipping out their phones to pay for their grande peppermint mochas. Starbucks and a handful of retailers embraced Passbook, but it the process remains convoluted at best. Individual retailers needed separate accounts setup and in the case of Starbucks, you have to fund your account in order to make payments. Apple Pay changes all of that. It’s a modern spin on an old payment system. Easy. Secure. There’s a reason why it’s a big deal on the biggest phone release of the year. We’ll help you through every step in our ultimate guide on how to setup and use Apple Pay. If at any point, you need specifics, just use our handy table of contents.

Apple Pay at McDonald's

How it works and why Apple Pay is more secure than traditional payment transaction methods

To be clear, the payment method won’t change. Apple Pay changes the way in which a transaction occurs between you and a retailer. Instead of handing over a credit card, information gets transferred wirelessly using NFC (near field communications) from your iPhone to a compatible terminal. When you initiate payment by placing your finger on the TouchID button, a unique Device Account Number coupled with a transaction-specific dynamic security code is used to process your payment. This Device Account Number is stored locally in the Secure Element, a dedicated chip specifically designed for Apple Pay. Your information is never stored on Apple’s servers. Fingerprints being unique identifiers, only you can use or initiate a payment.

Zagg Glass home button

Let’s compare this to a traditional transaction. For one, you have to fish through your wallet or pocketbook for your credit/debit card. You then hand it over to a stranger who can see the card number and your name. For years, this has been how we do things and despite its incredible inefficiencies when it comes to security and anonymity, it has somehow become standard practice. Transactions should be effortless, secure and anonymous. That’s exactly what Apple Pay offers.


You’ll need an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 in order to use Apple Pay. The iPads will only work with online transactions.

Supported cards

The following banks support Apple Pay. However, not all of their credit products are supported. This chart will provide you with specifics.

  • America First Credit Union
  • American Express
  • Bank of America
  • Barclaycard
  • Capital One
  • Chase
  • Citi
  • Commerce Bank
  • J.P. Morgan
  • L & N Federal Credit Union
  • M&T Bank
  • Merrill Lynch
  • Navy Federal Credit Union
  • PNC
  • Regions Bank
  • SunTrust
  • U.S. Bank
  • U.S. Trust
  • UW Credit Union
  • USAA
  • Wells Fargo

What stores accept Apple Pay (a continuously updated list)

The following is an updated list of retail stores with physical locations and online stores that support Apple Pay. We also have an active forum discussion with first-hand experiences with retailers.

  • Aeropostale
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Apple
  • Babies R Us
  • BJs
  • Bloomingdales
  • Champs Sports
  • Chevron
  • Disney Store
  • Duane Reade
  • ExtraMile
  • Foot Locker
  • Footaction
  • House of Hoops
  • Kids Foot Locker
  • Lady Foot Locker
  • Macy’s
  • McDonald’s
  • Meijer
  • Nike
  • Office Depot
  • Panera Bread
  • Petco
  • Radio Shack
  • Run
  • Six:02
  • Sports Authority
  • Subway
  • Texaco
  • Toys R Us
  • Unleashed
  • Walgreens
  • Wegmans
  • Whole Foods Market

Coming by the end of 2014:

  • Anthropologie
  • Free People
  • Sephora
  • Staples
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Walt Disney World

Apps that support Apple Pay:

  • Apple Store
  • Disney Store
  • Levi’s Stadium
  • Chairish
  • Fancy
  • Groupon
  • Hotel Tonight
  • Houzz
  • Insacart
  • Lyft
  • OpenTable
  • Panera Bread
  • Spring
  • Staples
  • Target
  • UBER

Apps that will support Apple Pay later this year:

  • AirBnb
  • Eventbrite
  • Jackthreads
  • Sephora
  • Starbucks
  • Stubhub
  • Ticketmaster

How to setup Apple Pay and link your iTunes payment card

If you are using an iPhone, your first step is to open Passbook, pull down any existing cards and select the ‘+’ option. Select the link to ‘Setup Apple Pay’. iPad owners, your initial step is different, due the lack of a Passbook app. Tap on Settings > Passbook and Apple Pay. You will have to enter your Apple ID password.

Passbook Setup Apple Pay

What you’ll see next depends upon the credit or debit card you’re using for iTunes. If your banks supports Apple Pay, you’ll see the screen on the left. If not, you’ll need to manually add a credit or debit card. If available, select ‘Use Card on File with iTunes‘.

Use card on file

You’ll be prompted to add the three digit security code that appears on the back of your card. Following this step, you’ll need to agree to the terms and service.

Enter security code

The next step involves verification of your card. It’s important to note that depending on your bank, you may have to call to verify your request. Using Citibank as an example, I had to enter a verification code, which was sent via text message. Your iPhone will prompt you to enter the verification code.

Card activation

Once completed, you’ll see a picture of your card with the message ‘Card Activated’, advising you that it is ready for Apple Pay. It’s time to take it for a spin.

How to use Apple Pay in stores

When you visit a retail store that supports Apple Pay, essentially that store is support contact-less payments. The terminal often has a logo that looks like a WiFi fan turned on its side. Here’s a photo taken at McDonald’s and you can see an example of the terminal. Here’s how the transaction happens. You order good or services, hopefully a Big Mac and are asked for payment. Now it’s time for the rubber to meet the road. You pull out your iPhone 6, place in the vicinity of the terminal and simply place your finger on the Touch ID button. You should here a short beep and vibration. That’s it, end of the transaction. It’s time to chow down on some tasty burgers!

Pay with Apple Pay

How to view previous Apple Pay transactions

Okay, so now that you’ve realized how easy it’s been to use Apple Pay, you’ve been spending more. Let’s say you want to buckle down and review your recent transactions. No problem. In fact, you won’t need to bother logging into your bank account.

1. Open Passbook.
2. Tap on the credit or debit card you’ve used to make payments.
3. You’ll see a list of recent transactions.

Previous transactions

If you tap the ‘i’ button, you’ll see similar transaction information. If for some reason you want to shut off recent transactions, toggle ‘Card Notifications’ to off.

Card notifications

How to make a return using Apple Pay

Returns using Apple Pay work very much like making a payment. At the point where the store would swipe your card, you initiate Apple Pay by placing your iPhone near the payment terminal and placing your finger on the Touch ID home button. Retailers often look up previous transactions using your credit card number. Of course, you can still use your actual card, but there is an easier way. Earlier, I referenced the unique device account number that is tied to your account. If you open Passbook, tap on the ‘i’, you’ll have access to the last four digits of your Device Account Number.

How to add credit or debit cards for use with Apple Pay

Setting up new cards happens within settings. On the iPhone, you can start the process by selecting the ‘+’ sign in Passbook. For iPad or iPhone owners, you can follow these steps:
1. Tap on Settings > Passbook and Apple Pay
2. Tap on Add Credit or Debit Card
3. You can manually add your card number, expiration date and security, but what’s the fun in that. Using the camera on your iPhone, you can add a card. Tap the camera icon and align the box with your card. It will automatically recognize the number and enter it. You’ll need to enter the expiration date the three digit security code on the back.

Capture card
4. Where applicable, you’ll need to select a verification method.
5. Tap on the card (again Settings > Passbook and Apple Pay > Card). Enter Code you’ll receive from your bank.

How to remove credit or debit cards from Apple Pay

Removing a card from Apple Pay couldn’t be easier. Okay, maybe it would be easier if we could just ask Siri, but that’s for the ultra lazy. Here’s how:
1. Open Passbook.
2. Tap on the card you’d like to remove.
3. Tap on the ‘i’ button.
4. Scroll down and select ‘Remove Card‘.

Remove card from Apple Pay

How to use Apple Pay online

Coming soon.


How do I know if a retailer accepts Apple Pay?
We’ve compiled the list above, which will be continuously updated. If you have a store not listed, please mention them in the comments. If a store has the icon that resembles a sideways WiFi icon, they should support Apple Pay. However, stores may be capable of supporting Apple Pay, but have chosen to disable support. Stores like CVS, Walmart and Best Buy are part of a consortium that are partnering on a different payment system called CurrentC.

What happens to my Apple Pay account if I lose my iPhone?
Your account is still secure. Payments require your fingerprint. Using Find My iPhone, you can suspend or remove Apple Pay cards. Also, you can contact your bank and suspend Apple Pay. Suspending Apple Pay doesn’t cancel your credit card, so you can still use that for transactions.

Apple Pay is a fast, secure and easy way to pay for goods and services. The setup process is easy and you won’t find an easier way to pay for a BigMac or for some, a healthy bag of groceries from Whole Foods. The only problem, if you can call it that, is the lack of support. In time, that should changeĀ as more people start using Apple Pay and asking their favorite retailers to offer support. Have you used Apple Pay? Please share your experience in the comments or in our forums.