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Android Update

Google vs Apple vs Samsung Wallet: which is right for you?

Google Wallet 1

Joe Hindy / iandroid.eu

Tap-to-pay has proliferated to a point where it doesn’t feel new anymore. We’ve seen competitors come and go, like LG Pay, but the market is dominated by only three these days. They include Google Wallet (and Google Pay), Apple Pay, and Samsung Wallet. They have changed a bit over the years, but the mainstay features remain the same. We’ll compare all three and see which one is actually the best.

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Those with Apple phones will certainly benefit most from Apple Pay. Android phone owners are best served with Google Wallet. However, if you own a Samsung phone, Samsung Wallet is integrated just a little better.


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Basic comparison and stats

Samsung Wallet 2

Joe Hindy / iandroid.eu

Google Wallet / Google PayApple PaySamsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Maximum number of payment methods.

Google Wallet / Google Pay

5

Apple Pay

8

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

10

Maximum you can spend at once (in USD).

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Google Pay has a $5000 maximum, but we could find no such restrictions for Google Wallet.

Apple Pay

Apple has a massive list of limits based on country or region on its support website. In the US, there doesn’t seem to be an upper limit.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Samsung Wallet doesn’t appear to have an upper limit that we could find.

Tap to pay

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes, Android phones and Wear OS smartwatches only.

Apple Pay

Yes, iPhones and Apple Watch only.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes, on Samsung phones and Galaxy Watches only.

Can you use it on websites to buy things?

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes.

Apple Pay

Yes.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

No.

Digital (or virtual) card numbers to hide your real card number

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes, by default.

Apple Pay

Yes, by default.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes, by default.

Credit and debit card support.

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes, from most banks and credit unions

Apple Pay

Yes, from most banks and credit unions.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes, from most banks and credit unions.

Card verification methods

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Text, call, and email for most banks.

Apple Pay

Text, call, and email for most banks.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Text, call, and email for most banks.

Loyalty cards support

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes.

Apple Pay

Yes.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes.

Gift cards support

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes, as long as the gift card issuer supports it.

Apple Pay

Yes, as long as the gift card issuer supports it.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes, as long as the gift card issuer supports it.

Transit or boarding passes support

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes.

Apple Pay

Yes.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes.

Health passes / COVID-19 vaccine records support

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes.

Apple Pay

No. However, you can use the iOS Health app for this functionality.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes.

State ID’s and driver’s licenses support

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes, but this isn’t available everywhere yet.

Apple Pay

Yes, but this isn’t available everywhere yet.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes, but this isn’t available everywhere yet.

Digital car keys support

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes.

Apple Pay

Yes.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes.

Wearables support

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes, Wear OS.

Apple Pay

Yes, Apple Watch.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes, Galaxy Watches.

Multi-platform support

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes, but tap-to-pay is Android and Wear OS only.

Apple Pay

No, only Apple devices can use Apple Pay.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

No, only Samsung devices can use Samsung Wallet.

Discounts and offers

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes, in the Google Pay app.

Apple Pay

No.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes.

Can users earn rewards through use?

Google Wallet / Google Pay

Yes, in Google Pay only, and only on select purchases.

Apple Pay

Yes, but only if you get the Apple credit card.

Samsung Wallet / Samsung Pay

Yes, but only when you buy Samsung products.

Google Wallet pros and cons

Google Wallet 3

Joe Hindy / iandroid.eu

Pros

  • Deeply integrated with Google services. You set up Google Wallet, and it works on Google Play, Google Pay, and any website that supports Google Pay. It’s attached to your Google account, so migrating to a new phone only requires re-verifying your payment cards.
  • Easy to use with a clean user interface. Google Wallet even works with Material You for a little extra flair.
  • Supports the latest stuff. You can add credit or debit cards, loyalty cards, gift cards, transit passes, some forms of ID, digital car keys, and even COVID-19 vaccination records.
  • This is the default option on Android and works on all Android phones with NFC.
  • Integration with Wear OS smartwatches is relatively decent. I was able to make payments with my Galaxy Watch 5.

Cons

  • Google Wallet wouldn’t let me add a card to my Galaxy S22 Ultra running the One UI 5 beta because it registered it as unofficial software. I like security as much as the next person, but that is just silly.
  • Google has a second app, Google Pay, that also does contactless payment. Wallet is the new, re-branded app. The features are split, so you need both apps to get every feature. Between the redesigns and the re-branding, Google has been sloppy with this over the last few years.
  • While it is available on iOS, you cannot use contactless payment. That is likely Apple’s fault, though, so we don’t blame Google for this. It’s still a con, though.

Google Wallet was re-branded and re-released to the public in 2022. With it came Material You theming, new functionality, a new UI, and better ease of use. It sits in your app drawer, largely untouched once you set everything up. Setting things up only takes a few minutes.

In day-to-day use, it works like Samsung Wallet and Apple Pay. You have options to access it from the lock screen, the main app, or via a quick settings toggle. You can also turn on your screen and immediately tap to pay. I also tested it on a Galaxy Watch 5, which worked as you would expect.

At this point, if Google Wallet didn’t work as expected, there would be serious problems. Thankfully, it works as expected.

What makes Google Wallet good is that it just works. The technology is old at this point, so any hiccups would be a serious cause for concern. Adding payment cards, loyalty cards, and all of that is fairly quick and easy. Accessing them is about as easy. The only hiccup I had was setting up my payment card on my Galaxy S22 Ultra while it was running beta software. It literally wouldn’t let me do it, so I had to test Google Wallet with my Pixel 6.

Your cards are also available in places like the Play Store and the original Google Pay. Google does a nice job porting your payment information to its other apps and services without much effort on your part. That’s especially good news, considering how bad Google Pay has been.

As the default tap-to-pay option on Android phones, Google Wallet carries the torch well.

In short, Google Wallet is an easy option and works well. However, if you want all of the features, like perks and rewards, sending people money, etc., you must use both Google Wallet and Google Pay. That’s a bit confusing, and we hope Google combines these two services eventually.


Apple Pay pros and cons

Apple Pay 2

Joe Hindy / iandroid.eu

Pros

  • Tightly integrated with all Apple services and hardware. You set it up once, and it’s ready on your Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
  • Apple Pay lets you add credit and debit cards, an Apple account, transit cards, and driver’s licenses.
  • Apple is very consistent with its verbiage, unlike Google Wallet and Pay, so it’s Apple Pay with TouchID everywhere.
  • The app is very simple, with easy controls and logically labeled options. There is direct access to the iOS settings menu for easy management.
  • Apple’s credit card integrates directly with Apple Pay. This is unique since the other competitors don’t offer credit cards at all.
  • Excellent integration with the Apple Watch.

Cons

  • iOS does support COVID-19 vaccine records, but you have to use the Health app to do it. Additionally, driver’s licenses are only available in Arizona and Maryland as of the time of this writing.
  • Apple Pay does work on websites, but it isn’t quite as common as Google Pay, at least for now.
  • You can only use Apple Pay on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. There is no support for other platforms. You have to send money to others via the Messages app. The tight integration is nice, but it comes at the cost of exclusivity.

Apple Wallet is tough to write about because it definitely follows Apple’s mantra of “it just works”. I tested Apple Pay on a MacBook Air and an iPhone, which was pretty easy in both cases. Setting up a payment card took a minute at most. The service gets out of your way once it’s all set up, and I never had to go into the app to use it.

In practice, it works exactly like Google Wallet. You turn on your iPhone, tap to pay, and you’re on your way. I have the first-generation iPhone SE, so I set it up to double-tap the home button, which worked swimmingly. You can use Touch ID or Face ID, which I recommend, as it’s much faster than entering a PIN.

Apple Pay perfectly personifies Apple’s mantra of things just working. After set up, you never have to open the app again unless you have to update something.

The nice part of Apple Pay is how well it integrates with everything. I originally set it up on the iPhone, and I could immediately use it on the MacBook. It’s just there, and it works. The settings for Apple Pay are in the iOS and macOS settings. As I said earlier, you never have to open the app again if you don’t want to.

The only downside to Apple Pay (and Apple Wallet) is the small stuff. You can send money, but you have to use Messages for it, which seems arbitrary to me. There aren’t any offers or perks for using it unless you sign up for an Apple credit card. I appreciate minimalism, but at the same time, it can occasionally feel too simple.


Samsung Wallet pros and cons

Samsung Wallet 1

Joe Hindy / iandroid.eu

Pros

  • Excellent integration with Samsung phones, including shortcut options to make access quicker and easier.
  • It supports all of the most recent stuff, like IDs, COVID-19 vaccine records, transit passes, and digital car keys.
  • Of all three apps, I personally think Samsung Pay has the best layout. Everything is very easy to find.
  • Excellent integration with Galaxy Watch devices with built-in shortcuts you can’t get with Google Wallet.
  • Integrates with your Samsung Account. Thus, if you get a new Samsung phone, all you should need to do is re-verify your card with your bank again.

Cons

  • Samsung devices used MST technology once upon a time. MST let you tap-to-pay on terminals that were not equipped with tap-to-pay. It worked almost everywhere, and it’s disappointing that Samsung doesn’t use MST anymore.
  • It is not available on websites like Google Pay and Apple Pay.
  • Samsung re-branded Samsung Pay to Samsung Wallet in 2022. Galaxy Watches still use Samsung Pay, so it’s a bit sloppy.
  • Samsung Wallet is only available on Samsung devices

As a Samsung user, Samsung Wallet is my preferred service. It works like the two big competitors in most ways. Adding payment cards, loyalty cards, etc., is simple. Once done, using the service is simple. It integrates well with Samsung’s One UI and your Samsung Account. Let’s just say it competes.

What I like about Samsung Wallet are the small touches. A software tab is available where you can pull Samsung Wallet up, enter a credential, and pay immediately. It’s subjective, but I think the Samsung Wallet UI is the easiest to use out of all three. It uses a tabbed layout with well-labeled and logical options.

Samsung Wallet (formerly Samsung Pay) used to work on every Android phone. Now, it only works on Samsung phones and smartwatches.

In day-to-day use, it works exactly like the other two. You activate it, enter a credential, pay, and then leave. I also tested it on my Galaxy Watch 5, which worked without issue. You can set it to activate tap-to-pay on the watch by long-pressing the back button, which I found convenient. The only weirdness is that the Galaxy S22 Ultra uses Samsung Wallet while the Galaxy Watch 5 still uses Samsung Pay. It’s the same thing, but Samsung apparently isn’t done rebranding it yet.

The only downside to using Samsung Wallet is how it feels like another option in the pile. Years ago, you got points for each purchase you made. Those points were usable for themes in the theme store and discounts from Samsung. Samsung phones from back then had MST, which allowed Samsung Pay to function on terminals without tap-to-pay functionality.

Now, Samsung Wallet has neither of those unique features anymore, and it feels all the more empty for it. It’s still a great option, but only if you’re into Samsung.


Which one is the best

This is kind of a silly question, if we’re being honest. Most wallet apps are platform-specific, so it’s not like you can use Apple Pay on Android or Samsung Pay on iPhone. You pick your poison when you pick your phone. That said, maybe you’re using this comparison to help choose whether or not to use Android or iOS, so we’ll give it our best shot.

Google Wallet is the best overall

Google Wallet 2

Joe Hindy / iandroid.eu

Google Wallet is the only service that boasts multi-platform support. Even if iOS users can’t use it to tap and pay, at least they can still use it.

  • Google Wallet is easy to use with a functional, simple, and good-looking app.
  • Google Pay is optionally available with even more features, like sending people money, discounts, perks, and other stuff.
  • Honestly, we’re just happy Google cleaned up its act after royally messing up with Google Pay’s redesign a few years ago.
  • It’s not perfect, but it works on the largest number of devices and websites compared to all other competitors on the list.
  • It supports the latest stuff, like COVID-19 vaccine records, state IDs, driver’s licenses, etc.

Apple Pay is the only choice for iOS users

Apple Pay 3

Joe Hindy / iandroid.eu

It’s tough to recommend Apple Pay. Not because it’s bad, but because you kind of have to use it if you’re on Apple devices and you don’t get any other choices.

  • Deeply integrated with Apple hardware, making it easy to use if you own multiple Apple devices.
  • Dead simple app. There is no drama during set-up, and you can natively access the settings through your device’s menu.
  • It’s not quite as popular with websites as Google Pay, but more and more websites support Apple Pay.
  • It supports most of the latest stuff, like state IDs, driver’s licenses, digital car keys, etc.

Samsung Wallet is friendly and capable

Samsung Wallet 3

Joe Hindy / iandroid.eu

Samsung owners are the only ones with a choice, and we think Samsung Wallet is interesting enough to use instead of Google Wallet.

  • It supports the latest stuff, like digital car keys, state IDs, driver’s licenses, COVID-19 vaccine records, etc.
  • Excellent integration with Galaxy Watches, even if it’s still called Samsung Pay on the watch.
  • It has the best perks and discounts feature of any of the competitors.
  • You can still use Google Wallet on websites that accept Google Pay. It doesn’t mess up anything if you have both installed.