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How to use Google Pay: A step by step guide

Tired of carrying cards around? Use your phone!

Published onFebruary 5, 2024

Previously known as Android Pay, Google Pay (or G Pay) lets you make NFC purchases at physical stores using nothing but your smartphone. The app also makes it simple to shop online or send money to friends and family. It’s also possible to include loyalty cards, gift cards, and public transit cards. You can even earn rewards for shopping through certain retailers. The payment method has become more of a financial hub, featuring many tools to organize your cards and money.

In terms of payments, it is supported by various U.S. merchants, including CVS, Best Buy, Subway, and many others. You can use it in almost any store with a contactless payment terminal. It also works with several online businesses like Airbnb, HotelTonight, and Wish.

Want in on the fun? This post will give you a complete guide on using Google Pay.


In order to use Google Pay, you'll need to download and set up the app with your Google account. Add your cards, bank accounts, and more. You can then use your payment methods to make contactless payments or send money to your contacts.

After you've set up your Google Pay account, you can make contactless payments by unlocking your phone, holding the back of the device against the reader, and verifying the transaction. Keep reading for more specific step-by-step instructions.


Editor’s note: These steps were assembled using a Google Pixel 7 running Android 13. Some steps may differ depending on your device and the software version it runs.


Google Pay logo on smartphone next to money and cards Stock photo 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

First things first: every service has some limitations. Here they are.

Google Pay requirements:

  • You need to be 16 years of age or older. If you are under 18, your parents need to grant permission.
  • You’ll need a Google account.
  • If you want to use contactless payments, your phone needs to support it and have NFC.
  • Your device should be running Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher, too. But if you want to add, cards, passes, and make contactless payments, you will need at least Nougat 7.0.
  • A participating debit or credit card is required for payments. You can also use a bank account to refill your balance.
  • You will also need the Google Play Services and Google Wallet apps.

What banks and countries are supported?

Google Pay logo on smartphone next to money and cards Stock photo 4
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Google Pay supports over 1,000 banks in the U.S., including big players like Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and tons of smaller ones. We won’t mention them all in this post, but you can head to Google’s support page to see the entire list.

In addition to the U.S., you can use Google Pay in many other countries. New territories are constantly added, so check the most recent list of supported banks for each region in the same support page linked in the previous paragraph.

How to set up Google Pay

The process is a breeze. Follow the steps below to get started.

  1. Open the Google Play Store and download Google Pay.
  2. Open the Google Pay app.
  3. Select your country of residence and hit Continue.
  4. Select the Google account you want to use and hit Continue.
  5. Enter your phone number and tap on Continue.
  6. You’ll get a text with a code. Enter it and wait for the app to verify your identity.
  7. You’ll be asked to select some privacy-related preferences. Follow instructions.
  8. You’re in! You’ll be welcomed to Google Pay. Hit Got it.

How to add a debit or credit card

Adding a debit or credit card is the easiest way to get started with payments, whether using the service online or physically in a store. Get your account ready for payments before you go out there to show off your contactless payment abilities!

  1. Open the Google Pay app.
  2. Tap on the Insights tab in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Manage accounts.
  4. Tap on Add payment method.
  5. Enter the card number and follow the instructions.

How to add loyalty, gift, or transit cards

Once you’ve added a credit or debit card, you’ll find that adding all other types of cards is pretty simple. The only trick is that Google has migrated these features to Wallet. Here’s how to add them.

  1. Download and install Google Wallet.
  2. Launch Wallet. Your Google account should already be linked to it. Follow instructions to finish the quick setup.
  3. Tap on Add to Wallet.
  4. Select either Transit pass, Loyalty, Gift card, ID card, or Photo.
  5. Follow instructions to finish adding your card of choice.

How to add your bank account

Aside from paying directly through debit or credit cards, you can also use a bank account to add money to your Google Pay account. This is convenient if you want more control over your spending. The only downside is that the process takes a bit longer. Bank transfers, while free, can take up to five business days to go through.

  1. Open the Google Pay app.
  2. Tap on the Insights tab in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  3. Tap on the Link your account button.
  4. Hit Accept.
  5. Tap on Continue.
  6. Look for your bank and follow instructions.

How to use Google Pay contactless payments

Are you ready to start making contactless payments using Google Pay? Let’s find out. There is actually a built-in tool for checking if everything is ready for you to start paying for things the modern way.

How to check if you can make contactless payments:

  1. Launch the Google Wallet app.
  2. Tap on your profile icon, in the top-right corner.
  3. Select Tap to pay setup.
  4. You will be displayed a list of actions that need to be taken for you to make contactless payments. If all have a blue checkmark next to them, you’re ready. Otherwise, you will get instructions on what to do.

How to make contactless payments using Google Pay:

  1. Unlock your phone and make sure NFC is turned on.
  2. Hold the back of your device close to the payment terminal for a few seconds.
  3. Wait until the payment is completed — a blue checkmark will appear on your screen when it is.
  4. If required, enter your PIN code or sign the receipt.

You can also use it in apps like Uber and Airbnb or online shopping. If the merchant accepts this payment method, tap the Google Pay purchase button at checkout to use it.

How to pay friends

This feature isn’t only about paying at POS terminals. You can also use it as a simple way to send money to friends and family. It’s a convenient way to split the food bill or repay a loan.

  1. Open the Google Pay app.
  2. Go into Send or request.
  3. Select the contact you want to send money to. Alternatively, you can create a group or select the option that reads Split with friends.
  4. Once you’ve selected the user, hit the Pay button.
  5. Add the amount and hit the Next button.
  6. Tap on the Checkmark button.
  7. Select your payment method and finish the transaction.

Get some rewards for shopping!

You want to take advantage of all the sweet deals Google Pay offers, right? Luckily, the Search Giant has partnered with plenty of retailers. And some of these deals are very generous!

  1. Open the Google Pay app.
  2. Select the section labeled Top deals for you.
  3. You’ll see a variety of deals you can take advantage of if you use Google Pay.
  4. Tap on the deal you like, and select either Redeem online or Activate. Google Pay will give you instructions.

Google Pay vs. the competition

Samsung Wallet and Apple Pay are Google Pay’s biggest rivals. Apple Pay is more common and widely used; it also works great. However, its availability on only Apple devices limits its reach. The same applies to Samsung Wallet, which is exclusive to Samsung devices. The good thing about Google Pay is that it works with any modern Android device. Otherwise, all main payment systems should work similarly. They all accept major banks and credit cards, and will work on any contactless payment POS.


Google Pay is a free service. There are no fees, other than those requested by other institutions in the case of overdrafts or international transactions, among others.

Generally, yes, you can use Google Pay in many countries and regions. The real answer is more complex, though. Different Google Pay features are available in different countries. For example, contactless payments are available in these countries. Google has a specific page to see where specific features are available.

Minors need to be at least 16 and have permission from their parents to use Google Pay.

Google Pay is meant for daily usage, not for large or quantitative transactions. There are purchase limits, aside from the ones placed by your bank or card issuer. For example, verified users can only hold up to $25,000 in their Google Pay balance. They can only send up to $5,000 weekly to friends and family. Purchases with the Google Pay balance are also limited to $2,000 per transaction and $2,500 total per day. Learn more here.

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