Apple Pay vs. Samsung Pay vs. Android Pay: Everything You Need to Know


Digital wallets are a safe and convenient way to keep all your cards in your pocket. Wallet apps like Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Apple Wallet use encryption to keep sensitive data like your credit card numbers safe from prying eyes. You can also use them for online shopping and for organizing gift cards and loyalty cards.

But which is the best digital wallet app? Let’s take a closer look and find out!

What Makes a Good Digital Wallet?

Digital art of digital finance security

Joseph Mucira/Pixabay

To choose a good digital wallet, we must first understand what to look for. A digital wallet should be versatile, secure, and easy to use.

Support for Many Kinds of Cards and Banks

The best kinds of digital wallets work for all your debit and credit cards, regardless of bank or credit union. It’s great if they also store your loyalty cards, gift cards, and passes such as movie or airplane tickets. This extra versatility lets you keep everything organized in the same place.

Multi-Device Functionality

It’s also good if you can use the app across different devices. The best option is an app that works on your phone and through wearable tech like smartwatches. If the app works on your smartwatch, you don’t have to get your phone out or even have it with you.

Related: Best Cheap Smartwatch: Great Options for All Budgets

Many Payment Options

There are three main ways of paying through an app: Near-Field Communication (NFC) or “tap,” scanning a bar code or QR code from the screen, and using an online payment system. The best wallets offer all these options.

NFC and code scanning are good for shopping in a store. You can tap your phone or smartwatch on the card reader or hold it up for the cashier to scan. Unlike a physical card, this barcode won’t wear away in your pocket.

Online payments work for online retailers and for app purchases and in-app purchases. You can tell if your favorite online retailer supports a wallet by looking at the checkout options.

Strong Security

A good digital wallet should encrypt your data, protecting it from hackers. It should also prevent people from taking screenshots of your cards. It’s also good if it keeps sensitive data like credit card numbers out of sight when you’re not using them. You can also look for biometric security so that you can use your eyes, fingerprints, or facial recognition to sign in.

Related: How does Encryption Work? Is Encryption Actually Safe?

1. Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay on a smartphone

Samsung Pay is a digital wallet app that comes standard on Galaxy phones. You can use it through wearables like your Galaxy Watch, too! It is supported by 98 banks and credit unions across the US and Canada. You can view the complete list on Samsung’s compatibility site.

These institutions trust Samsung Pay because it uses dynamic encryption and biometric security. Not only that, but it also won’t let you take a screenshot while payment data is on the screen. It keeps payment card numbers hidden until you’re ready to pay.

Related: Password vs. PIN vs. Fingerprint: The Best Way to Lock Your Android Phone

Samsung Pay supports debit, credit, and loyalty cards. For in-store purchases, you can use NFC for tap payments. It is quick to access since you can pull Samsung Pay up by swiping from the bottom of any screen. However, you can’t use payment cards for online shopping or in-app purchases.

For loyalty cards, it displays a hi-res barcode for your cashier to scan. It won’t keep track of your loyalty rewards. But you can add your current points balance or other rewards as a note if you want to. Lastly, Samsung Pay doesn’t support gift cards or online payments. It won’t store your tickets and passes, either.

If you have a Galaxy phone and want a wallet for in-store shopping and loyalty rewards, Samsung Pay is a good choice. It’s the easiest wallet to access in a hurry, and you can even link it to your Galaxy Watch for increased mobility.

Download: Samsung Pay for Android (Free)

2. Google Pay

Google Pay on an Android phone

Matthew Kwong/Unsplash

Formerly called Android Pay, Google Pay supports 108 banks and credit unions across North America (Google Pay Help). It is a highly versatile app that will work for almost any card. It doesn’t support passes or tickets, but it does store gift cards. You’ll have to update the remaining balance yourself, though, as the app can’t track it.

Google Pay is compatible with wearable tech and works on both Android and iOS phones and smartwatches. For payment options, only Android users can use Google Pay for NFC payments in stores. Anyone can use it for online shopping in the Google Play Store, though. You can also spend from Google Pay at any online retailer with a Google Pay button at checkout.

Related: How to Check Which Stores Support Apple Pay and Google Pay

The security is top-notch. Google Pay uses encryption, prevents screenshots, and hides sensitive data until it’s selected. You can also set up a PIN or biometric lock for extra security. It also keeps you up to date with payment notifications and receipts, so you can stay on top of your spending.

Overall, Google Pay covers most users’ needs pretty well. It’s accepted in a wide variety of online and offline retailers, so you’re unlikely to run into payment problems. It doesn’t have an easy-access tray like Samsung Pay, but it comes up automatically for online and in-app purchases, making it very convenient.

Download: Google Pay for Android | iOS (Free)

3. Apple Wallet

Apple's Wallet App with an ING card displayed

Apple Wallet, which uses the Apple Pay service, supports debits, credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards, tickets, and passes. It has 4,253 banks and credit unions supported, according to Apple Support. This versatility makes it is the most flexible of the digital wallets currently available.

The iPhone’s digital wallet only works on iOS devices, including Apple Watches. It’s set up for both NFC and online payments through retailers that support Apple Pay, such as the App Store. You can also use tickets and passes through the app at supported vendors.

The security in Apple Pay is good, too. It uses the same kind of encryption as Samsung Pay and Google Pay. You can also enable touch or facial recognition. Like its competitors, the app also keeps sensitive data hidden when you’re not using it.

Related: Apple Pay Is Safer Than You Think: The Facts To Prove It

Apple Wallet’s interface looks like an actual wallet and is easy to access and organize. If you’re an iPhone or Apple Watch user, it’s the best choice for versatility and style.

Download: Apple Wallet for iOS (Free)

The Best Virtual Wallet

Apple’s Wallet app is miles ahead of its competition in terms of supported cards and for how versatile it is. Neither of its competitors offers support for passes and tickets. Moreover, the number of supported institutions pales in comparison for both Samsung and Google.

However, only iOS users have access to Wallet.

If you’re rocking an Android, Google Pay is the better alternative. It supports more banks, can store gift cards and is available on any smartphone, not just Galaxy devices. Also, you can use it for online payments, while Samsung Pay is for in-store shopping only.

Whichever wallet you use, you can rest easy knowing that the latest encryption technology is protecting your data.

Image Credit: K3StarShutterstock


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