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How to set up and use Apple Pay on your iPhone to make contactless payments at thousands of stores

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Apple Pay is a "digital wallet" for Apple devices like the iPhone and Apple Watch. It's a feature that lets you use your device to make mobile payments without taking out your wallet, purse, credit cards, or cash.

There are a number of competing mobile payment systems — notably, Google Pay and Samsung Pay for Android devices — but Apple Pay has become very common, accepted at about three quarters of the top US retailers. You can even use Apple Pay at select stations on the New York City subway.

Want to use Apple Pay on your phone and keep your wallet in your pocket? Here's how to set it up and use it.

Check out the products mentioned in this article:

iPhone 11 (From $699.99 at Best Buy)

Apple Watch Series 5 (From $399 at Best Buy)

How to set up Apple Pay on an iPhone

1. On your iPhone, open the Wallet app.

2. Tap the plus sign in the upper right corner of the screen.

Add a credit card to your Apple Pay wallet by tapping the plus sign.

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3. Tap "Continue" on the introduction page and then get ready to add your credit or debit card to the iPhone.

4. Add a credit card by holding the phone over the card, letting the iPhone automatically read the number off the front of the card.

Your iPhone can read the details from your credit card automatically.

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5. Complete the process, tapping "Next," entering the expiration date, and the security code.

Finish entering your credit card details like the expiration date and security code (found on the back of the card).

Dave Johnson/Business Insider

6. You should see the Terms and Conditions page. Review the information and tap "Agree."

7. Your iPhone will attempt to confirm the card with the credit card company and add it to the wallet. For some cards, this happens automatically, though for other credit cards, you might need to enter a verification code or otherwise communicate with your credit card company.

When you finish this process, you should see the card appear in your wallet. Repeat that process for any other credit cards that you want to add.

How to change the default credit card on Apple Pay

If you add multiple cards to your Apple Wallet, you can specify which one you want to use by default when making a purchase.

1. Start the Settings app and tap "Wallet & Apple Pay."

2. Tap "Default Card" and choose the card you want to use.

You can use the Settings app to specify which credit card is used by default.

Dave Johnson/Business Insider

If you plan to use Apple Pay with more than one device, you need to set it up separately on each one. To configure your Apple Watch, read our article, "How to use Apple Pay on an Apple Watch with your debit or credit card."

How to make a payment with Apple Pay using your iPhone

The best part of using Apple Pay on your phone is the convenience. It more or less works automatically — you don't have to go out of your way to make purchases with it. Here's what you do:

1. When you are ready to pay, hold the iPhone directly over the point of sale terminal. You might need to look for the Apple Pay or wireless symbol so you know where to position the phone. If in doubt, you can ask the cashier where to position it.

2. The Wallet app should launch automatically.

The point of sale terminal will communicate with your iPhone via an NFC connection.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

3. If you want to use the default credit card, use Touch ID or Face ID to approve the transaction. If you want to switch to another card, tap the card you want to use before you approve the transaction.

How to check your Apple Pay transaction history

At any time, you can see a list of transactions you've made with any card in your Apple Pay wallet.

1. Open the Wallet app.

2. Tap on any card you want to inspect. You should see a list of all the transactions made with that card appear under it.

The wallet keeps a history of all your transactions.

Dave Johnson/Business Insider

3. If you don't see any transactions, the transaction history might be turned off. To turn it on, tap the black circle with three dots at the top right of the credit card screen. Make sure that "Show History" is turned on.

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