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NFC payments first appeared on Android back in 2011, when a small disaster struck called the Nexus S 4G. This WiMAX The 4G phone was the only device that made NFC payments at the time, because carriers had a hand in everything. Fortunately, things are not so strict now. You can make contactless payments from any Android phone that contains an NFC chip, but you may have several options. If you have a Samsung phone, you can choose between Samsung’s own payment platform or Google Pay. While both offer the same basic pay-to-push NFC functionality, there are some differences in ease of use and in the apps themselves. Here’s how to determine which one is best for you.
If you have an Android phone, you can use Google Pay, which recently completely new app with reward functions. However, you need NFC to make mobile payments using the app. There are still some budget phones that lack the NFC chip (like the Moto G, oddly enough), but most phones do. If you can check this box, it is very easy to use Google Pay. You need a secure lock screen or biometrics like fingerprint scans set up on your device, but there are many reasons you should have it, regardless of your mobile payments use. Once unlocked, simply tap your phone on the payment terminal and your card will be transferred.
The installation process and the app itself are faster and less annoying than Samsung Pay. Plus, Google Pay works with just about any card in the US. Most of the newly added banks are small local networks and credit unions, and they keep popping up. There are so many supported banks out there at the moment that it becomes difficult to find those that aren’t on the list. Google Pay also has support for membership cards, gift cards, and even travel passes in some locations. Some airlines have also added plane tickets.
The most notable disadvantage of Google Pay is that it only works in stores that have NFC enabled on payment terminals. It used to be very rare, but in the past few years it has become more common, especially in the US. The good news is that NFC-enabled terminals usually recognize your card without any additional button presses or PINs. The low bounce rate means mobile payments can actually save you time.
NFC payments, despite what you hear, are very secure. As long as your phone’s lock screen is set up in a difficult enough way to bypass, NFC is effectively more safer than using a physical credit card. This is not only because of the extra layer of authentication, but also because your true credit card number is not stored on your phone with NFC payments at all. Instead, you are assigned a virtual card number that the card reader sees when you use push-button payment, making it much more difficult to compromise your real card number at the point of sale level.
To use Samsung Pay, you of course need a Samsung phone. Maybe you already have it, or maybe you’re thinking about buying it, and Samsung Pay looks like a good argument. Older Samsung phones have a technology called MST (Magnetic safe transmission) to push the magnetic stripe data from your card onto non-NFC terminals, but the S21 series doesn’t, and I wouldn’t hold my breath for future support. Samsung moved away from that – the S21 family stopped supporting MST in the US. Samsung Pay also supports NFC, but that kills one of Samsung’s main advantages over Google Pay.
After adding a card (Samsung Pay supports almost as many cards as Google), you can initiate a payment from the lock screen or home screen with a swipe up gesture. You can also switch between maps from this user interface. However, Samsung has an additional security measure for making payments over Google. In our experience, the app is also slightly slower at recognizing NFC readers than Google Pay, which almost always happens instantly when you put it on a terminal.
Like Google Pay, Samsung Pay supports gift and membership cards. Samsung also offers numerous discounts and special offers, but this can turn out to be a little spammy. Chances are, you won’t care about most retailers offering in-app discounts, and Samsung even sends promotional notifications at times. You can turn off the various deal and partner notification channels, but the app itself still has a set amount to advertise all over the place, just like the updated Google Pay app.
What should you use?
If you don’t have a Samsung phone yet, Samsung Pay isn’t the best reason to buy one. The proliferation of NFC technology means you’ll get a lot of value from Google Pay, and Samsung has ditched MST technology in its latest phones. The Google Pay app is even more enjoyable to use, even after a recent redesign.
Even if you have a Samsung phone, Samsung Pay might not be worth your time. Google Pay is even easier to use if you’re on Android 11 thanks to the new power menu. Just press and hold the power button and you have (among other things) access to all of your verified cards. It’s not even close right now – Google Pay is the best option.