Apple Pay gets close to letting you chop up your credit cards | Cult of Mac

Apple Pay gets close to letting you chop up your credit cards

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Apple Pay gets close to letting you chop up your credit cards
You might be surprised how many businesses let you pay with your iPhone.
Graphic: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

After a mishap, I recently had to go on vacation without a credit card. I was ready with cash but it never mattered – to my surprise, wireless payments and Apple Pay let my iPhone make all the purchases I needed.

It’s clear we’re really not far away from physical credit cards becoming obsolete. That’ll be one less hassle in our lives.

Wireless payment has finally arrived

I didn’t intend to head for the beach without a credit card. But I managed to misplace my wallet the day before I left on the road trip across the Southeast.  I have cash, and was driving with a friend who was happy to use her credit card as necessary. But it never was.

We stopped for lunch at a fast-food franchise. Turns out they accept Apple Pay. I hadn’t picked a place because it took Apple’s wireless payment system, but I wasn’t surprised a national chain would do so.

To use Apple Pay, you enter your credit cards into the Wallet app.  After that, you don’t need the physical card to make wireless transactions. All you have to do is tap your iPhone on the payment terminal and approve the transaction. It worked great to buy lunch.

Back on the road, we pulled into a gas station and the pump also took Apple Pay. That was a surprise. I hadn’t realized many gas stations supported it. But a tap with my iPhone and the transaction was made.

And the trip continued like that. Both on the drive to the beach and the drive back, every restaurant and gas station we stopped at let me pay with my iPhone. I wasn’t planning the trip around this – it just happened.

But Apple Pay isn’t everywhere yet

After the initial car trip to the beach, I was about ready to stop carrying my Apple Card. I had dreams of ditching the wallet and getting by with an iPhone, or even just an Apple Watch. But that didn’t last.

As soon as we went to a nice restaurant, we had to either pay with a credit card or cash. That’s the way sit-down restaurants often work in the United States – but I’m ready for a change. The European system, where the waiter brings a wireless payment terminal to the table, is better. Not only could I then pay with my iPhone, I wouldn’t have to watch a stranger walk off with my credit card.

I was also reminded on the beach trip that there are other businesses that just refuse to adopt Apple Pay. We went to a grocery store that has its own wireless payment system. If you don’t sign up for it, you need a credit card or cash. The best we can hope for is that these companies will eventually make their customers happy and accept Apple’s payment system, too.

We’ve come a long way

Apple Pay logos
Keep an eye open for these. They mean you can pay with your iPhone or Apple Watch.
Photo: Apple

There’s plenty of security built into Apple Pay. And because you have to use Face ID or Touch ID to make a transaction, it’s safer than a physical credit card. If someone steals your card, they can start using it. If someone finds your iPhone, they can’t use Apple Pay.

But physical credit cards are still unavoidable. Despite my temporary optimism while on vacation, it’s clear the day we can chop up our cards is still a little way off in the future. But we’re much closer than I would have predicted a few years ago.

So when it comes time to pay for something, don’t habitually reach for your wallet. Check to see if Apple Pay is an option. Look for the Apple Pay logo, and when you see it, pay straight from your iPhone or Apple Watch.

You should definitely do this as much as possible if you have an Apple Card – payments made this way offer more cash back than using the physical card.

And as you’re making each wireless payment, look forward to a future where we can all leave our wallets at home forever thanks to Apple Pay.