How Samsung Pay works

Woman using Samsung pay to check out at a pharmacyImage: Woman using Samsung pay to check out at a pharmacy

In a Nutshell

With Samsung Pay, you can leave your credit and debit cards at home and pay using virtual cards linked to your digital wallet. But you can only use it if you have a Samsung device and compatible cards.
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Your mobile phone is good for more than just texting and social media. With Samsung Pay, you can use your Samsung device to make payments — but only if your cards are compatible.

Digital wallet apps, such as Samsung Pay, have become increasingly popular in recent years. If you use a Samsung phone or smartwatch, you may consider Samsung Pay as an alternative to carrying cash or physical cards. Let’s dive a little deeper and see if Samsung Pay would make a good match for you.

What is Samsung Pay and how does it work?

Samsung Pay, launched in 2015, is a digital wallet (typically deployed as an app) that allows you to leave your debit and credit cards at home and use your phone to pay for pretty much anything.

Samsung Pay is part of a broader suite of features known as Samsung Wallet. By utilizing near-field communications (NFC) technology — the same tech that enables contactless payment through debit/credit cards — Samsung Pay lets you save cards to your digital wallet so you can use them simply by opening the app and tapping your phone.

What devices support Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay is restricted to Samsung mobile phones and compatible smartwatches. Initially targeting only the Galaxy-class of Samsung phones, the Samsung Pay app is now available on a much wider variety of Samsung phones.

You can currently install Samsung Pay on the following phones:

  • Galaxy Note9
  • Galaxy S9+
  • Galaxy S9
  • Galaxy Note8
  • Galaxy S8+
  • Galaxy S8
  • Galaxy S7 edge
  • Galaxy S7
  • Galaxy S6 edge+
  • Note 5
  • Galaxy A8+
  • Galaxy A7 (2017)
  • Galaxy A5 (2017)
  • A5 (2016)
  • A7 (2016)
  • Galaxy A9 Pro
  • Galaxy J7 Pro

Using Samsung Pay with wearables

You can also use your smartwatch to tap and pay from the Samsung Galaxy smartwatch screen. Once you press and hold the “Back” key, you’ll see the last card you used. Tap “Pay” and hold your wrist to the payment reader.

The following wearables are compatible with Samsung Pay:

  • Gear Sport
  • Galaxy Watch
  • Galaxy Watch Active
  • Galaxy Watch Active2
  • Galaxy Watch3
  • Galaxy Watch4
  • Galaxy Watch4 Classic

Is Samsung Pay safe?

Samsung Pay has several safety features for protecting your information. First, you need a PIN or a thumbprint to unlock payment each time you use the app to purchase. Second, all card, payment or personal data stored in the app is encrypted before transmitting to Samsung servers. No card data is stored on the Samsung server or device.

Finally, if you lose your device (or if it’s stolen), Samsung offers a free Find My Mobile service. That same service also allows you to lock or erase Samsung Pay remotely.

Is it a good idea to use Samsung Pay?

While Samsung Pay (or Wallet) is limited to users with an eligible Samsung smartphone or compatible smartwatch, it is a very competitive, comprehensive and secure app. Users should feel comfortable thanks to the security features in place to help protect their financial and personal data. And the included NFC hardware and software combine to make payments a breeze.

But choosing the right digital wallet app isn’t always a one-size-fits-all and largely comes down to preference and personal needs. If you’re trying to leave your physical cards at home but Samsung Pay isn’t an option, there are other ways to send or spend money.

Venmo, Zelle and PayPal are popular and convenient ways to transfer money between individuals, but it’s far less likely that your local restaurant, for example, accepts payment through these platforms.

Apple Pay and Google Pay work similarly to Samsung Pay  — though Apple Pay only works for Apple users and Google Pay is accepted by both iOS and Android.

About the author: Christina Majaski is a writer, editor and SEO content strategist covering money, law, life and other topics. When she isn’t crushing content, she enjoys pretending to be a foodie, bingeing history documentaries, tweet… Read more.