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Paying with Your Digital Wallet or Phone: What You Need to Know

November 24, 2020

Woman paying with her digital wallet in a cafe

If you’ve shopped your favorite store lately, you may have noticed signs letting you know that you can now pay with your phone. With this method of payment growing in popularity, even smaller shops are getting in on the trend. What should you know about using your phone or digital wallet to pay? Here are the basics, along with the perks you can get when you make the switch.

What is a digital wallet?

If pulling out your credit card every time you want to buy something feels like a hassle, not to mention a security risk, you’ll be pleased to know that digital wallets simplify this process. Instead of carrying each card you want to use, you store all of your credit card data in a simple, smartphone-based app. There are dozens of apps that use the technology, but the most common are the phone apps specific to each manufacturer’s operating system: Apple Pay for Apple® phones and Google Pay for AndroidTM devices.

Once your digital wallet is set up on your phone, you can easily add card numbers and expiration dates to make purchases without having to pull out your card or share your card number. Other apps provide similar services, such as Chase, Square, Venmo, and Netspend.

Now, you’re ready to shop. When it’s time to make a payment at the register, use the retailer’s instructions for paying with your phone. It may require you to tap, scan, or use their equipment to activate payment, but it’s simple to figure out when you get there. If you see the sign for mobile payments but aren’t sure what to do, ask!

Benefits of paying with your phone

Aside from making it simpler to pay, there are other benefits of paying with your digital wallet, including:

  • Safekeeping— Since you can’t accidentally leave a physical credit card behind or become a victim of cleverly disguised skimming machines, your information is better protected. You can also avoid having to store your card in a secure radio-frequency identification (RFID) wallet for fear of having your data stolen.
  • Cleanliness— With COVID-19 making everyone rethink those grimy point-of-sale machines at checkout, the mobile payment options seem like a cleaner choice. Only you touch your phone, using it to scan or tap, and no physical plastic card changes hands at any time. It’s also much cleaner than cash, which gets touched by everyone!

It sounds like there’s no reason to skip out on mobile payments offerings, but there is one important thing to remember when paying by phone. Since you need your phone turned on and the app open to pay, you’ll want to keep your phone fully charged when you shop.

Best ways to pay with your phone

The upsides of using your phone to pay don’t just end at the checkout. Since your digital wallet is connected to your credit cards and other popular payment services, you can get a wide variety of payment services from your go-to mobile device. These apps include Netspend’s mobile app1, which helps you easily transfer money to and from friends and family,2 allows you to shop online, and can even help you manage your money better.

Why now is the best time to pay with your phone

It can be a bit scary to use a new tool at first, but switching to your mobile money system can help free you up from card clutter. We always have our phones on us, so it makes sense to keep your card info there, too. Netspend has been making it easier to do more on the go, and digital wallets are another way to keep moving forward with positive money actions.

The next time you shop, ask your favorite retailer if they take mobile payment. Many are making the switch each day. It’s just a matter of time before you can use your connected Netspend card to tap or scan to pay everywhere you shop.