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A guide to Google Pay

Google Pay can be a quick and secure contactless payment alternative to physical cards. Here’s how it works.

Google Pay can be a quick and secure contactless payment alternative to physical cards. Here’s how it works.

Written by
Sajni Shah
Consumer money expert
14 NOVEMBER 2023
3 min read
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What is Google Pay?

Google Pay is a quick, contactless payment method that uses cards linked to your Google account and Android devices.

It used to be called Google Wallet but after merging with Android Pay in January 2018, it became Google Pay.

How do I set up Google Pay?

It takes a few minutes to set up Google Pay. You just need to make sure you have a valid Google account and an Android 7.0 operating system.

  • Open the Google Pay app
  • Tap Credit or debit card
  • Add card details – you can use your camera to scan a debit or credit card or enter the details manually
  • Complete verification
  • Don’t forget to turn on near field communication (NFC) and make sure Google Pay is set as the default payment app.

How do I use Google Pay

To use Google Pay for in-store purchases:

  • Unlock your phone
  • Hold your phone over the card reader
  • Wait until you see a check mark.

To use Google Pay for online payments:

  • Choose Google Pay at the checkout
  • Select the card you’d like to pay with
  • Confirm your purchase.

What are the pros and cons of Google Pay?


  • It’s a quick and easy way to pay
  • It’s secure – the merchant receives a unique encrypted number and doesn’t have your card details
  • You can store loyalty cards in Google Pay too
  • Higher contactless limit – you may be able to spend over the £100 contactless limit, but it depends on the retailer


  • It’s harder to keep track of spending
  • There’s no way to make payments if your device is stolen or lost
  • It doesn’t work for all smartphones – Google Pay, which was created for Android, only works with smartphones that are NFC-enabled.

Where can I use Google Pay?

You can use Google Pay wherever you see the Google Pay symbol, whether that’s in stores or online.

You can also use Google Pay on the London Underground, bus, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail services in London. Touch in and out on rail services to pay the right fare and only touch in on buses and trams.

Consider how much benefit you’ll get from the perks on offer. You may find that some, like travel insurance, are cheaper elsewhere. Or you may already have them.

Frequently asked questions

Is Google Pay safe?

Yes, Google Pay is secure. When you make payments, Google Pay sends a virtual account number to the merchant instead of your actual card number. Payment methods are securely stored on Google’s private servers and your payment data is encrypted.

If you end up losing your phone, or it gets stolen, you can use Google Device Manager to lock it or wipe it clean.

Which banks support Google Pay?

Hundreds of banks around the world support Google Pay, including American Express, Halifax, HSBC and more. You can see the full list on the Google website.

Can I use Google Pay abroad?

You can use Google Pay for spending abroad provided the country and the retailer accept it.

Does Google Pay have a spend limit?

There’s no spending limit for Google Pay, but the retailer themselves may have a limit on the amount they’ll accept via Google Pay.

Sajni Shah - Consumer expert on utilities and money

Sajni is passionate about building products, allowing Compare the Market to help you make great financial decisions. She keeps track of the latest trends and evolving markets to find new ways to help you save money.

Learn more about Sajni