Apple Pay vs. Google Pay: How to Choose Your Digital Payments

Apple Pay vs. Google Pay: How to Choose Your Digital Payments

14th Dec 2022

Cash is no longer king in today's digital world. 6 in 10 Americans make "only a few" or no purchases with cash today. This shift to cashless payments stemmed from increased online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic and the adoption of electronic and mobile payments and self-checkout registers in physical stores.

With demand for cashless payment modes on the rise, tech giants such as Apple and Google have entered the scene with their proprietary mobile payment services: Apple Pay and Google Pay. Both have strengths and weaknesses, and it's up to you to choose which best fits your lifestyle.

Here's a comprehensive guide on Apple Pay and Google Pay to help you learn which digital payment service to use.

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a mobile payment service and digital wallet built into iOS devices. Apple users can simply add their credit or debit card to their device's Wallet app to set up their Apple Pay account and use it anywhere—grocery stores, gas stations, public transportation, and even vending machines.

iOS users can also easily purchase products and services within the Apple ecosystem with Apple Pay. For instance, you can use the service to subscribe to services like Apple Music and Apple TV+, purchase apps in the App Store, or upgrade your iCloud storage.

Apple Pay also enables two products: Apple Cash and Apple Card. The former is a prepaid digital card that allows you to send and receive money from others and purchase things in-store or online through the Wallet app. Meanwhile, Apple Card is a digital credit card that you can use in establishments that accept Mastercard.

Because of these unique products and features, millions of consumers and businesses in the U.S. use Apple Pay for daily transactions. As of 2021, Apply Pay has 43.9 million users in the U.S., securing the top position in the country's mobile payment market. In addition, 9 in 10 U.S. retailers accept Apple Pay as a payment mode.

What is Google Pay?

Google Pay is a mobile payment app and digital wallet from Google. It allows users to pay for Google apps and services and exchange money with other Google Pay users. The app also stores credit or debit cards, membership and gift cards, and transit passes, among other things. It's available for both Android and iOS devices.

Unlike Apple Pay, Google Pay is not built into modern smartphones. Instead, you must download it from the Google Play Store to access its digital payment and wallet features. Nonetheless, Google Pay makes up 25% of the mobile payments market share in the U.S. It has also been downloaded on over 500 million devices worldwide.

Apple Pay vs. Google Pay: Which is Better?

While both offer digital payment services, Apple Pay and Google Pay differ in many ways. Here are the factors that separate them from each other.

1. Platform

Apple Pay is accessible through the Wallet app, which is available on all iOS devices. Meanwhile, Google Pay has an app available for Android and iOS devices.

2. Ease of use

Setting up cards in Apple Pay is faster than Google Pay. Since Apple Pay is built into iOS devices, you only need to go to the Wallet app and input your preferred payment method/s and card details. With Google Pay, you still need to download the app, log into your Google account, enter your debit or credit card information, and enable NFC through settings.

However, using them is seamless once you have both services set up.

3. Privacy and security

Apple Pay and Google Pay have different ways of issuing users virtual cards or security codes.

For instance, upon approval of your card for Apple Pay, your bank or card issuer creates, encrypts, and sends a device-specific token called the Device Account Number to Apple. This number is then stored in your device's Secure Element chip, which securely stores your payment information, but not in Apple operating systems, servers, or iCloud backup storage.

Apple Pay also allows you to remotely suspend your account instead of canceling your cards when you lose your device. You can place your device in Lost Mode through the Find My iPhone app to do this.

Meanwhile, Google Pay issues a Virtual Account Number once you submit your card details, so merchants won't get ahold of your actual card details. After installing the app, it also requires you to secure your device with a personal PIN, pattern, or fingerprint. This measure lets you validate and complete purchases accurately and securely.

Google Pay also uses machine learning to identify fraud. It notifies you when someone outside your contact list makes an unauthorized payment. Lastly, you can lock or log out of your Google Pay account or erase your data through the Find My Device website if you lose your phone.

4. Accessibility

Both payment services are available on smartphones. One difference is that Apple Pay is built into iOS devices, while Google Pay downloads from the Google Play Store are necessary.

Moreover, Apple Pay is interoperable across multiple iOS devices, while Google Play can only be registered one device at a time.

5. Compatibility

Apple Pay is available for Apple devices with iOS 8.1 or later. These devices include:

  • iPhone models with Face and Touch ID, except iPhone 5s
  • iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad, and iPad mini models with Face or Touch ID
  • Apple Watch Series 1 and later
  • Mac models with Touch ID
  • Mac models introduced in 2012 or later with an Apple Pay-enabled iPhone or Apple Watch
  • Mac computers with Apple silicon and a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID

Meanwhile, Google Pay is available for Android and iOS devices. However, it is only downloadable on Apple devices with iOS 10.0 or higher and Android devices with 5.0 Lollipop or higher. These Android devices include:

a. Android smartphones

b. Android tablets

c. Wear OS

6. Fees

Apple Pay doesn't charge fees when processing transactions in stores, online, or through apps. However, it collects a 1.5% fee for instant bank transfers. Meanwhile, Google Pay offers free transfers between Google Pay accounts but charges a 1.5% fee for debit card transfers to and from Google Pay.

7. Credit line

With Apple Card, you can use an Apple Pay credit line without paying annual, over-the-limit, foreign-transaction, or late fees. Once your Apple Card application is approved, you are entitled to a physical titanium Mastercard card.

Apple also offers Apple Card Monthly Installments with zero interest. Interest will only apply if you miss a monthly payment, which is why Apple recommends paying your dues on time.

Lastly, Apple Pay allows you to merge your credit line with a friend's or family member's into one account. This perk encourages you and your credit line partner to build credit together and improve your spending habits.

On the other hand, Google Pay only offers credit for Google Store purchases. You can earn credit when you do the following:

  1. Trade in an old phone through Google Store
  2. Buy a product in an eligible promotion
  3. Directly buy from Google

You can't use Google Store credit for Google Play purchases, subscriptions such as Google One, Nest Aware, or YouTube TV, and cash outs unless legally required.

4 Tips to Help You Choose Your Digital Payment App

With so many distinct features, choosing between Apple Pay and Google Pay may be challenging. Here are tips to know which digital payment app fits your needs.

1. Device support

You'd want a digital payment app compatible with your device. While Google Pay is also compatible with iOS devices, you'd still have to manually download it first, unlike Apple Pay, which is already embedded into your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple Watch.

Apple Pay is also interoperable across multiple iOS devices. For instance, if you left your iPhone or iPad at home, you can use your Apple Watch to make cashless purchases. Meanwhile, Google Pay is restricted to one smartphone at a time. Google will show that your Google Pay account is "used on another device" if you try to input it on a second phone.

2. More affiliated banks

You'd also want a digital payment app supported by many banks, especially if you make frequent money transfers. You can save time and effort from depositing or withdrawing money with a digital payment app integrated with your preferred banks.

It would also help to know how long it takes to make bank transfers to and from your preferred digital payment app. For instance, bank transfers from Apple Pay are either instant or processed within one to three business days. Meanwhile, bank transfers from Google Pay can take only a few minutes.

3. Rebates and rewards

Digital payment apps nowadays supplement their basic functions with loyalty programs like rebates and rewards. It's up to you to choose which digital payment app offers the most attractive incentives.

For instance, you can get a 3% daily cashback on Apple products and services when you use Apple Card with Apple Pay. You can also get a 2% daily cashback when you use your iPhone or Apple Watch to pay with Apple Card.

Meanwhile, you can earn rewards with Google Pay when you complete a purchase, send money, or refer friends. You can also use promo codes and gain cashback with the app.

4. Payment tracking

For transparency, you'd want a digital payment app that accurately tracks your deposits, withdrawals, and purchases. With Apple Pay, you can track your orders and view your transaction history through the Wallet app on your iOS device. Meanwhile, Google Pay lets you check all your transactions on the app.

The Era of Digital Payments

Apple Pay and Google Pay currently lead in the digital payments market because of their unique features and perks. Since it can be difficult to choose which one fits your needs and lifestyle, feel free to review the tips above before making your choice.

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