What is Samsung Pay and how does it work?

What is Samsung Pay and how does it work?

A Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 on a user's wrist displays the Samsung Pay screen.

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

While Apple Pay and Google Pay are better known, Samsung Pay remains one of the most important mobile payment platforms out there. Here’s a quick primer on what it is, how it works, and where you can use it.

What is Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay in 2022

Samsung Pay allows you to make credit, debit or loyalty/membership card-based payments, usually using one of the company’s phones or smartwatches. It is primarily intended for retail, where the NFC (near-field communication) technology in your device securely talks to compatible POS terminals. It is also available for certain payments in apps and online.

The highlight of Samsung Pay used to be MST (Magnetic Secure Transfer), which allowed it to work with any magnetic card reader. However, the company killed MST in its devices starting with the Galaxy S21, so only older phones still have this option.

It’s also worth noting that Samsung Pay is now part of the Samsung Wallet app, which encompasses a wide range of purposes such as gift cards, digital keys, app logins, boarding passes and COVID-19 vaccination registrations.

How does Samsung Pay work?

Samsung Wallet smartphone app

Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Using Samsung Pay begins by adding one or more payment methods by pressing a plus icon in Samsung Wallet. The app can use your phone’s camera to scan the front of a credit or debit card, extracting the number and expiration date. You must still enter the CVV code and your name as it appears on the card. Alternatively, you can choose to enter all this data manually, or use the NFC add-on if your card supports it. In any case, cards must be verified with their providers using the instructions they have chosen.

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To make a personal payment with a Samsung phone, you must first launch Wallet by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. The default payment card is displayed, but you can swipe left or right to select a different one. You must then press fingerprint, irisor Pin code buttons to authenticate and take the back of the phone next to the POS terminal within 30 seconds. In some cases, you may need to enter the card’s PIN on the POS system.

If you’ve set up Samsung Pay on a watch like the Galaxy Watch 5, retail payments are easier. You just need to press and hold back key, and unlock the watch with the PIN code or pattern code. Hold the watch close to the POS terminal and the transaction will complete.

For in-app or online payments, select Samsung Pay/Wallet when the option becomes available at checkout, select your card and authenticate.

Where can I use Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay is one of many NFC mobile payment apps.

The feature is available in at least 29 countries, including the US, UK and Canada, and should work in most places where NFC payments are accepted, including petrol stations, restaurants and electronics stores. However, some retailers are NFC holdouts, such as Texas’ HEB grocery chain. When in doubt, look for a “Samsung Pay” sticker where you shop – just know that it might work even if that sticker is missing. If Apple Pay or Google Pay is an option somewhere, chances are Samsung Pay is too.

In New York City, Chicago, and Portland, there is a unique version of Samsung Pay for the MTA, CTA, and TriMet transit systems, respectively. Called Tap and Pay, this allows riders to board simply by holding their phone next to a ticket validator, without having to manually activate or even unlock Samsung Pay. You must enter a standard payment method for public transport for this to work.

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There is no comprehensive list of apps and websites that support Samsung Pay, but some apps include Fancy, Raise, Exxon Mobil and Samsung’s own.

Can I use Samsung Pay at an ATM?

In fact, you can, if you have a compatible debit card in Samsung Wallet and the bank it’s linked to supports withdrawals that way. In the US, this includes Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and others.

However, you must ensure that an ATM supports cardless transactions. Search for locations via a bank’s app or website, then check which services are available at the ATM(s) closest to you.

Can you get money back with Samsung Pay?

Potentially, as long as a merchant has partnered with Samsung for a promotion. Look for that information in Wallet. The amount of cash you receive varies from merchant to merchant, and likely won’t be paid back directly — instead, you’ll get things like coupons or (for some purchases direct from Samsung) Samsung Rewards points.


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