Android Pay explained: Everything you need to know about paying with Android Pay

Android Pay has transformed how I buy practically everything. Having been an Android Pay user since its 18 May release last year, making payments with my Android phone has taken over my life. It’s my Oyster card, my Google Play Store account, my main method of payment – when I find somewhere that doesn’t accept NFC – or I manage to spend more than £30 in a single transaction – the thought of whipping out my actual payments card deflates me. PIN is dead, NFC payments cards are dead, long live Android Pay and mobile payments.

Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away there with how much I’m in love with Android Pay, but still it’s a great payment method for anyone who’s using a compatible Android smartphone and has a bank card that supports using Android Pay. For those who aren’t completely sure what Android Pay is, if it’s safe and why you should be using it, here’s everything you need to know to make the most of Android Pay now it’s available in the UK.

Android Pay: Everything you need to know

What is Android Pay?

Android Pay is an in-built part of Android and every phone running Android 4.4 that’s equipped with an NFC chip can make use of it. Working in a similar manner to Apple Pay, Android Pay lets you store your credit or debit cards on your phone, meaning you can then simply set a default and pay at any store that supports NFC payments. All you have to do is make sure your phone has battery and is unlocked, and voila – fast, safe, and convenient payment anywhere you go.

You can also use Android Pay on your Android Wear watch if it has NFC support – if that sounds like something you’d find useful…

How to set up Android Pay

To use Android Pay you’ll first need to download the Android Pay app from the Google Play Store. The app should let you know if your device and bank are compatible, but you definitely need to have a phone with NFC capabilities – a fingerprint reader is a security bonus too, but not essential. You also need to make sure your phone is running Android KitKat or newer, again it’s recommended you get it working on something like Android 6 Marshmallow for optimal performance. After that, Android Pay will walk you through the setup process and then you just need to go to a place that accepts Android Pay or NFC payments to use the card.

Which banks support Android Pay in the UK?

Most of the UK’s major banks support Android Pay, although – as always – Barclays users aren’t able to make use of Android Pay just yet. You can find a complete list of supported banks over on the Android Pay website, but here’s a smattering of the biggest:

  • Bank of Scotland
  • Halifax
  • HSBC
  • Lloyds
  • Nationwide
  • Natwest
  • RBS
  • Santander
  • TSB

What stores take Android Pay?

Almost every store in the UK will take Android Pay. Some point it out obviously with an Android Pay logo on the card reader but you can use Android Pay on any card reader capable of accepting NFC payments. It doesn’t have to be an “Android Pay approved” device to do so. Many websites and mobile apps also accept Android Pay as a method of payment too, making online shopping from your phone even more straightforward.

Those of you who live in or visit London can also use Android Pay on the London Underground and London Busses. In fact, Android Pay is supported across the entire TFL network and on the Emirates Air Line.

Can I use Android Pay on the London Underground?

Yes. Transport for London (TfL) supports Android Pay in the same way it supports Apple Pay and contactless cards, so you’ll be able to tap and pay as you go across London’s network of Tube, buses, trains, trams and boats.

How does Android Pay work?

Android Pay works via its Android Pay app. After you’ve added a card to your Android Pay wallet, Google then creates a virtual bank account to act as a mediator between your card and Android Pay itself. This means that your payment information is completely secure – nobody can steal your card details as they’re not stored on your phone. When you make a payment on an NFC-enabled card reader, Android Pay handles the transaction, establishing a connection between the reader and a secure online terminal where Google stores payment information. Once the connection is established the reader handles the rest meaning you can put your phone back in your pocket and be done with the transaction once it’s been approved.

What makes Android Pay really invalable is how it notifies you right away of what you’ve paid for and where, meaning you have your entire spending history in one place. You can even go and see exactly where that store is located via Google Maps and visit the website of each individual merchant too, if you so please. It also provides card recipts for each transaction, so you don’t have to worry about collecting those pieces of paper unless you really want them.

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