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Android 101: how to use Google Pay

Android 101: how to use Google Pay


Pay for purchases with your mobile phone

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Google Pay is a digital wallet and online payment system that’s developed by Google to make it easy for you to make purchases. It automatically syncs your saved credit cards wherever your Google account is logged in for quick payments, and it will import loyalty cards, tickets, and offers from your Gmail account. Google Pay is supported at most major markets, gas stations, and department stores.

How to set up Google Pay

Setting up Google Pay is straightforward.

You need a debit / credit card or PayPal account, a Google account, and a supported Google Pay device (an Android phone, a Wear OS watch, or a desktop / laptop computer). You can even use it with an iOS device. In this article, we’ll concentrate on how to use Google Pay with your Android phone.

Chances are you’ll already have the Google Pay app on your phone. If you don’t, download the app from the Play Store.

Adding payment accounts to Google Pay

When you first open the Google Pay app, you may be asked to agree to the Google Pay terms of service and the Google privacy policy. Once that’s done, you will be taken through an initial sign-in process that will help you add a payment method.

New users will be talked through the initial process.
New users will be talked through the initial process.
You can add a credit / debit card or a PayPal account.
You can add a credit / debit card or a PayPal account.

The Google Pay app

There are a variety of features you can access from the main G Pay screen. To begin with, four buttons let you make contactless payments, send or request funds, view offers from Google partners, or track your spending.

At the very top of the screen, tap the “Ready to pay” button or the “Pay contactless” button lower down to go to a page that allows you to transmit payment info to a reader. (Be aware that many Google Pay readers can accept the electronic payment without you having to actually go into the app.) This same page shows the credit cards and other financial sources you’ve registered with G Pay.

You can swipe across to add a new credit or debit card, or PayPal account, to G Pay. If you’ve already used a card or your PayPal account to pay for something on Google Play — an app, say, or a movie — then your other cards may be listed there already when you tap on “Add a payment method.” However, you will have to enable them in order to use them as sources for contactless payment.

The home screen of the Google Pay app.
The home screen of the Google Pay app.
You can add a new payment source on the Ready to pay screen.
You can add a new payment source on the Ready to pay screen.

At the bottom of the main screen, there are three icons: a label that shows you various sponsored deals, the main home screen icon, and a dollar sign that shows you “spending insights” — in other words, how much you’ve spent. You can also link your bank and other accounts here if you choose to.

A quick way to access Google Pay

You can find Google Pay on your Quick Settings area by swiping down from the top of your Android phone. The GPay button will also show you which of your accounts will be used with Google Pay. Tap the control to turn it on or off, or long-press it to show the Hold to reader page that lets you use contactless payments.

Once on that page, you can change which account you want to use or add a new one by tapping the Show all button at the bottom of the screen. You can also access some of your Google Pay features by tapping Show all, selecting the hamburger icon in the upper-left corner, and going to Settings. However, you’re better off accessing Google Pay’s other features from the app itself.

If you can’t immediately find the GPay control in Quick Settings, here’s a quick lesson on how to find a missing control and move it up so it’s easily accessible.

  • Swipe down twice from the top of your screen to open up the full Quick Settings area. If you already see the GPay control in one of the first four spots in that menu, you’re all set. Otherwise, you’ll want to do a little fine-tuning.
  • Tap the pencil-shaped icon in the lower-left corner of the Quick Settings area. If you’re using a phone other than a Pixel, you might have to tap a three-line menu icon and then look for an Edit command there instead.
  • Find the GPay tile, press and hold it, and then slide it up to one of the first four positions in the Quick Settings area (or the first eight, if you don’t mind swiping twice).
  • Tap the arrow in the upper-left corner of the screen to save and exit.

Now that the option is in a more prominent position, you can get to it easily.

Finally, if you swipe down on the home screen, you can find businesses that accept G Pay and a list of people to whom you’ve sent money or who you have requested money from.

If you want, you can also manage your account on the web by going to the Google Pay account page.

Where can I use Google Pay?

In the real world, you can use Google Pay just about anywhere you see a credit card terminal with the G Pay logo. From there, all you need to do is unlock your phone and move it up to the terminal’s contact point.

Is Google Pay secure?

According to Google, it protects your info by sharing a temporary, encrypted number (rather than your actual card number) with merchants. You can find more information about Google’s security and privacy controls here.

If you lose your phone, Google’s Find My Device can be accessed from any computer with your Google account. From there, you can lock, locate, or remotely wipe your phone and all of its contents.

You can monitor the security of your account by going into the settings of the Google Pay app. To do so, tap on your personal icon in the upper-right corner and select Settings > Privacy & security > Data & personalization. This is where you can determine whether Google can send your info to third parties, share info about your creditworthiness, or share info with other Google companies for marketing purposes.

The Privacy & security pane also lets you determine how you authorize purchases and whether you can see other info such as bills from Gmail within Google Pay.

Update March 11th, 2022, 1:10PM ET: This article was originally published on May 16th, 2018. It has been updated to allow for changes in Google Pay’s interface and features since that date.