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How to use Google Pay: A step by step guide

Tired of carrying cards around? Use your phone to pay, instead!
September 5, 2021
The Google Pay logo.
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Previously known as Android Pay, Google Pay lets you make 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 loads of merchants in the US, including CVS, Best Buy, Subway, and many others. You can use it in just about any store with a contactless payment terminal. Google Pay also works with several online businesses like Airbnb, HotelTonight, and Wish.

Want in on the fun? In this post, we’ll give you a full guide on how to use Google Pay.

How to use Google Pay:


Best Smartphones 4 EOY 2020 Google Pay
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

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

  • You need to be 16 years of age or older. If 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.
  • A participating debit or credit card is required for payments. Alternatively, you can use a PayPal account.

More: The best phones with NFC

How to set up Google Pay

Google Pay
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

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 Next.
  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!

How to add a debit or credit card

Coinbase card stock photo
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Adding a debit or credit card is the easiest way to get started with payments through Google Pay, 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 on the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Show all accounts.
  4. Tap on Add account.
  5. Hit To use as payment method.
  6. Follow instructions to add your card.

How to add your PayPal account

PayPal app on phone
  1. Open the Google Pay app.
  2. Under the Home tab, tap on the credit card icon in the top-right corner.
  3. Select PayPal Link your account.
  4. Log into your PayPal account when prompted and follow instructions.
  5. Go back to the card section and select PayPal Enable contactless.
  6. Follow instructions.
  7. You’re ready!

Related: What is PayPal? Everything you need to know

How to add loyalty, gift, or transit cards

  1. Open the Google Pay app.
  2. Under the Home tab, tap on the credit card icon in the top-right corner.
  3. Hit Back once.
  4. Tap on Add a card.
  5. Select either Loyalty, Gift card, or Transit.
  6. Follow instructions to finish adding your card of choice.

How to add your bank account

Google Pay
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Aside from paying directly through PayPal, 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 to have more control over what you spend. 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 on the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  3. Select Show all accounts.
  4. Tap where it says Google Pay balance.
  5. Hit Add money.
  6. Select how much you want to add.
  7. Select Next.
  8. Tap on Add bank account.
  9. You’ll have to sign in to your bank account using Plaid. Follow instructions to finish the process.

Also: The best budget apps for money management

How to use Google Pay contactless payments

Once you’re set up and ready to go, paying with your phone in-store is super simple.

  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 Google Pay in apps like Uber and Airbnb or when you shop online. If the merchant accepts this payments method, tap the Google Pay purchase button at checkout to use it.

How to pay friends

Google Pay 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. Under the Home tab, go into Pay friend or group.
  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. Select Pay.
  5. Add the amount.
  6. Select your payment method and finish the transaction.

Get some rewards for shopping!

Money Stock Photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

You want to take advantage of all the sweet deals Google Pay has to offer, 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. Go into the Explore tab on the bottom-left corner of the screen.
  3. Scroll down and take a look at all available offers.
  4. Select the one you want to take advantage of and follow the steps to redeem.

What banks (and countries) are supported?

Google Pay supports more than 1,000 banks in the U.S., including the 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 added all the time, so check the most recent list of supported banks for each region here.

Google Pay vs. the competition

Samsung Pay and Apple Pay are Google Pay’s biggest rivals. Samsung Pay is available in 23 countries, putting it slightly behind Google. Apple Pay is currently available in over 60 countries, ahead of both Google Pay and Samsung Pay. However, its availability on only certain Apple devices limits its reach. The good thing about Google Pay is that it works with pretty any modern Android device. Most competitors are limited to certain devices.