Apple Pay setup step-by-step: It’s unsurprisingly easy and fast

Now that iOS 8.1 is available, it’s time to spend more money using Apple Pay. After updating my iPhone 6 software, I went into Passbook to set up Apple Pay, just as I did with Google Wallet back in 2011. While the overall setup is similar, the Apple Pay process is slight bit faster, mainly because of Apple’s relationships with banks and credit card issuers.

apple pay AMEX

I set up two cards in [company]Apple[/company] Pay and the first was certainly the easiest. That’s because Apple Pay asks if you want add the credit card Apple has on file for iTunes purchases. I said yes to this option and the app asked for my American Express card security code. Apple has all the other information so there’s no need to enter it; the security code is simply for verification.

After entering it, Apple Pay quickly said the card was ready to use. Tapping the information button under the card shows me a list of recent AMEX transactions as well as link to open or install the AMEX app for iOS.apple pay amex transactions

Next I decided to add my Master Card to Apple Pay, mainly because not every retail location takes my preferred AMEX card. Apple doesn’t have this card on file, so I had to enter it in from scratch.

apple pay blank card details

Apple Pay’s ability to read the card number from an in-app photo makes it even easier. Here’s what it looks like; I captured a pic of my television for demonstration and privacy purposes.

apple pay camera

It’s simple to use: Just line your card up in the specified area. You don’t even have to snap a shutter button. My card number was correctly added to Apple Pay using this method. I manually typed my name, card expiration date and security code. It took about 60 seconds after that but the card was approved for use with Apple Pay.

I didn’t have to interact with my banks, American Express or Master Card for any of this. There’s no such interaction with Apple Pay: You do everything through Apple and its app. That’s a key difference from how Google Wallet setup used to work: Back then when I added cards, I had to wait for approval messages from my banks; adding another party to the transaction. I added two new cards to Google Wallet today and I didn’t have to wait for approvals like I used to. However, Wallet did require me to retype my name, address and other information for both cards.

How well does Apple Pay work for payments? Based on the demonstrations Apple provided last month — and because I’ve made similar transactions with Google Wallet over the past three years — I expected they’re work just as easily, both online and in retail stores. Several iOS retail apps — Target, Staples and Apple’s own Store — are already updated to support Apple Pay so I’ll have to make a purchase. That $2,500 iMac with 5k retina display might be a great first buy but I think my wife would take my credit cards away, not to mention my iPhone 6 too.

Courtesy of Apple
Courtesy of Apple

One last note: I did get an email from AMEX after card setup but that was strictly informational. It also explained that if asked for the last digits of my credit card when using Apple Pay, I should provide the numbers from the device account number and not the card number. This is part of the Apple Pay implementation so that neither Apple nor the merchant have your credit card number.