Four years after Samsung introduced a tap-to-pay mobile wallet that works practically anywhere your credit card does — even older magnetic-stripe card readers — and two years after LG started testing it in Korea, LG’s rival LG Pay has finally arrived in the United States.
That might be pretty intriguing if you’re an LG smartphone owner, because it’s a way more flexible payment tech than most other rivals on the market. Where Apple Pay and Google Pay only work with newer payment terminals that support near-field communication (NFC), LG Pay allows your phone to generate a magnetic signal that looks — to the reader — just like you swiped a traditional magstripe credit card. That’s been an exclusive selling point for Samsung phones up to now.
But as Android Central reports, the new tech comes with two significant caveats, first of which that it only works (for now) with the LG G8 ThinQ phone, a device we found gimmicky and generally uncompetitive in our recent review, and a device that’s reportedly sold uncharacteristically poorly, to the point that we started seeing it on deep discount within a few months of its release. (Incidentally, LG quit making phones in its home country of Korea shortly after the launch.)
LG says the app is “coming soon to other LG smartphones,” but even so it’s quite a ways behind the pack:
the top payments app isn't Apple Pay or Google Pay... it's Starbucks. eMarketer says the ranking will remain unchanged through 2022.— Sally Shin (@sallyshin) May 22, 2018
This year over 23M people will use the Starbucks app to make point of sale purchase at least once every six months. pic.twitter.com/gOE95KuZer
LG Pay also only supports Visa and Mastercard credit cards from a handful of banks to start, including:
- PNC Bank
- US Bank
- Regions Bank
- State Employees’ Credit Union (North Carolina)
- Virginia Credit Union
Though Chase is admittedly an important get. You should also know that — like Samsung Pay — you can’t use it to withdraw cash at magstripe-only ATMs, or pay at the slide-your-card-in-all-the-way terminals that gas stations typically use.
LG says you can also store your gift cards and loyalty cards in the app, and launch the app even with your screen asleep by quickly swiping up from the bottom of the phone.
If you want to give it a spin, here’s the download link for Android.
Update, July 17th at 11:54 AM ET: Clarified that Samsung Pay and LG Pay don’t easily work at magstripe ATMs, not necessarily ones with NFC.