How to Use Apple Cash and Apple Pay

Quick Answer

  • Apple Cash is a digital card that you can load with cash for peer-to-peer money transfers and to make merchant purchases using your Apple device.
  • Apple Pay is a secure payment service that lets you make in-store and online purchases using the debit cards and credit cards added to your digital wallet.
A person hold up their phone to a card reader to pay.

Thanks to digital payment options, you can avoid an awkward encounter at the checkout stand if you leave your wallet at home. By setting up a digital wallet on your mobile device, your preferred payment options are always at your fingertips, even when your cards aren't in reach.

Apple Pay and Apple Cash are two tools you can use to pay merchants and transfer money to friends using your Apple smartphone, smartwatch, tablet or computer. Read on to learn how Apple Cash and Apple Pay work and how to set up your accounts.

What Is Apple Cash?

Apple Cash works like a digital prepaid debit card account that lives on your Apple devices. After funding your Apple Cash account with money from a connected debit card, you can use the app to send money back and forth between friends and family or make purchases with merchants.

With the Apple Cash Family feature, you can even send money to your children and help them manage their cash with parental controls. This could be a convenient way to send an allowance and teach kids about budgeting and saving.

How to Set Up Apple Cash

You must be at least 18 years old and have a compatible device to use Apple Cash. If you meet the requirements, here's the process for setup:

  1. Open your device and go to Settings. Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad. (Look for an app with a gear icon or search your app library for "Settings.")
  2. Tap on Wallet & Apple Pay. Within the Wallet & Apple Pay window, there's an option to turn on the Apple Cash feature. If Apple Cash isn't enabled, activate it by switching the on/off toggle to the right.
  3. Tap Apple Cash. Select Apple Cash under Payment Cards to complete the setup.

How to Use Apple Cash

You can easily send money, receive money and pay merchants using Apple Cash by tapping a few buttons. Here's how each of these processes work:

  • Send money: Open iMessage and select the name of the person you want to send money to. Then, tap the Apple Cash icon in the text window and choose the amount to send. If you don't have enough money in Apple Cash, payment will default to the connected debit card. You can also send money from within the Wallet app by tapping on the Apple Cash card. Keep in mind that the person receiving money must have a compatible Apple device to receive funds.
  • Receive money: Open an iMessage text conversation and tap the Apple Cash icon to request cash from someone. When a person sends you money, it will automatically be added to your Apple Cash balance unless you recently activated Apple Cash. In that case, you have seven days to accept the money before it becomes available. Future transfers should be automatically processed once you agree to terms and conditions.
  • Pay merchants: You can use your Apple Cash balance to pay for products or services in-store or online using Apple Pay. We'll explain how that works next.

If you want to take money out of your Apple Cash balance, you can transfer the desired amount to a connected debit card and funds become available within one to three business days.

What Is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay is a payment service that lets you make secure merchant purchases using the debit or credit cards in your digital wallet.

The difference between Apple Cash and Apple Pay is that Apple Cash is a virtual card that may have a cash balance, whereas Apple Pay is a tool that performs transactions.

Once Apple Pay is set up, you can make convenient and contactless payments with your device whenever you see Apple Pay as a payment option online or in physical stores.

How to Set Up Apple Pay

To set up Apple Pay, you need to input the debit or credit card information for the cards you want to add to your digital wallet. Here's what to do:

  1. Go to your digital wallet settings. If you're on an iPhone or Apple Watch, go to the Wallet app. If you're using an iPad, go to Settings and tap Wallet & Apple Pay.
  2. Add your cards. Once you're in your device's wallet settings feature, follow instructions to add your debit and/or credit card information. If you set up Apple Cash, the Apple Cash card should appear in your digital wallet as well.
  3. Confirm the account. The financial institution that issued your cards may ask you to go through a verification process to confirm your identity and complete the card setup.

How to Use Apple Pay

After cards are activated in your wallet, here's how to use Apple Pay online or in the store:

  • Online payments: Add items to your online shopping cart, click the Apple Pay option at checkout (if available) and follow the instructions to confirm payment.
  • In-store payment: Look for the Apple Pay icon on the payment terminal at checkout. If it's present, bring up your digital wallet on your Apple device and choose the card you want to use. Next, hold your device near the payment terminal and authorize the transaction.

Are Apple Cash and Apple Pay Safe?

Apple outlines several safety measures it takes to protect the financial information of users. First, Apple doesn't store or share your card information when you make purchases at stores using Apple Pay. Payment information is always encrypted, and a special device code is what's used for point-of-sale transactions to authorize in-store payments.

Additionally, Apple Cash and Apple Pay both use Touch ID or Face ID biometrics or password codes to confirm your identity and authorize payments, which can protect you from unauthorized purchases if your phone is lost or stolen and gets into the wrong hands.

The Bottom Line

Apple Cash and Apple Pay are easy to set up and manage. Cards used with Apple Pay should update automatically whenever they expire or numbers change, according to Apple. If not, you can manually remove and reconnect the card to update payment information.

Keep in mind that the last thing you want is for the convenience of contactless payments to result in unplanned spending and debt. When using a digital wallet, it's always a good idea to monitor your bank balance and credit card statements regularly. This can help you track spending, avoid overdrafts and ensure you don't overextend yourself with credit card charges.