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Samsung Pay: Everything you need to know

Paying with your phone is still a relatively new prospect, but it's become a ubiquitous feature on just about every NFC-capable phone over the last few years. The concept is simple; just hold your phone up to a compatible payment terminal to complete a transaction — secured with end-to-end encryption and authorized by your biometrics. Whether you forgot your wallet at home or simply have too many credit cards to manage, mobile payments can be a huge convenience.

There are plenty of different payment solutions, ranging from Google Pay to Apple Pay, but they all fall victim to the same problem: not every payment terminal supports NFC. Luckily for Samsung users, that's not necessarily a problem. Samsung makes use of a technology called Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST), which emulates the magnetic strip on a physical card to ensure that Samsung Pay works even on older terminals that don't typically support mobile payments.

The basics

If you're new to mobile payments in general, there's a lot to learn. Samsung Pay is largely popular thanks to its MST support, but there are plenty of other reasons one would want to use Samsung Pay over the alternatives. Some may prefer its UI over Google Pay, while others may prefer its selection of supported cards and banks.

What devices are supported?

Samsung Pay is available on a long list of Samsung phones, but in the U.S. at least, it's constrained to Samsung's flagship Galaxy S and Galaxy Note phones, starting with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5. In addition, some smartwatches support Samsung Pay — namely most variants of the Gear S2 and Gear S3, though the former lacks MST capability and only makes payments over NFC.

Is Samsung Pay safe?

One of the biggest concerns people have with mobile payments is security. What's to say someone won't hack your phone and steal all of your credit card information?

Samsung Pay only works once it's identified you with biometrics using the fingerprint sensor or iris scanner. From there, it uses tokenization, which replaces your actual card information with generated tokens that are then decrypted by the card's payment network to authorize the final transaction. Samsung Pay also utilizes Samsung's Knox platform for additional security.

What about the rewards programs?

One of the biggest reasons to use Samsung Pay is its generous rewards programs. With every purchase you make using Samsung Pay, you can earn rewards points that contribute to free gift cards. You can also store existing membership and rewards cards from your favorite stores, giving you one less reason to carry your wallet.

  • Samsung Pay now offers its own rewards program in the U.S.
  • Samsung Pay's rewards program just got a lot less awesome

Where can I use Samsung Pay?

While mobile payments are most commonly used at payment terminals in stores and restaurants, Samsung Pay works elsewhere, too. These days, you can use Samsung Pay to make purchases online and even within apps, with more payment methods than ever — including online services like PayPal.

  • Samsung Pay adds online and in-app purchases, expands to new countries
  • Samsung and PayPal strike deal for new in-store and online payment methods
  • PayPal support finally makes its way to Samsung Pay

What other countries support Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay is hugely popular in the U.S., but it works in plenty of other places in the world, too. Samsung is constantly expanding its reach — most recently, it launched in Italy, and at the moment it covers 21 unique markets. Depending on where you live, there may be other information relevant to your Samsung Pay experience.

What's your take?

Do you or have you ever used Samsung Pay? How do you feel it compares to other mobile payment services like Google Pay? Is MST a big deal to you? Share your thoughts on this and anything else related to Samsung Pay in the comments below!

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.

55 Comments
  • You can put all the pay systems together nothing matches Samsung Pay. It makes me laugh when a cashier says, that won't work and then of course it does. Another added premium feature that just works. The absolute best hands down!
  • And I'd still never use it over Google Pay.
  • Google pay is trash compared to Samsung pay. I like not even having to think about whether or not it will work on the terminal cause it works every where. I even use it at gas pumps. Google pay always gets immediately deleted.
  • Sure it is.... Works on all Android Phones with NFC, far easier to use - wake screen, tap terminal, DONE! Accepted everywhere even the smallest stores, doesn't require old MST technology or a Samsung phone. Samsung Pay? Tried it once or twice.. No thanks
  • Samsung Pay also has NFC built-in and its even easier. Swipe up(even from lock screen without even waking it up) and tap. DONE!
  • So how is that easier? Lol you have to wake the screen to show the lockscreen?
  • And I've earned over 2k$ and free stuff including 2 pair of Bluetooth headphones just for using Samsung pay. The rewards points is awesome! How much money has Google pay paid you?
  • None. The same as Samsung pays everyone outside the US as the reward scheme is US only.
  • Exactly, with Samsung Pay it's: 1. Switch on screen
    2. Swipe card onto screen
    3. Hold over reader to pay With Google Pay it's: 1. Switch on screen
    2. Hold over reader to pay Not sure how Samsung Pay is quicker with that extra step!!!
  • Actually. Samsung pay. With screen off
    Swipe up
    Fingerprint
    Tap If you use a different card then you select a different card, same with Android pay
  • Still more steps than Google Pay!!
  • How is it more steps? You cannot use Android pay any faster. You HAVE to open, fingerprint, tap no matter what. I have both and use both.
  • I use Google Pay so I know for a fact that you only need to switch the screen on and tap the reader, no swiping, no fingerprint. The only and I do mean ONLY time you unlock your device and open Google Pay during a transaction is to switch cards if you need to, otherwise you DON'T have to do any of that.
  • Google Pay - Power button to wake screen then tap the terminal. That's it, no fingerprint, no screen taps, no swipes. Much better
  • So from what I'm getting from all you guys is that you'd rather 1 less step so you can use your credit/debit card without having the security of having to provide a fingerprint/pin/password. You guys are acting like you're saving SOOOOO MUCH time with 1 less step... It's pretty ridiculous how petty arguments have become. I'm not saying there can't be a debate over which is better, but the reasoning behind why someone thinks X is better than Y is just stupid. I honestly prefer S-Pay because it is accepted pretty much everywhere, there are those random card readers that just don't work, no matter what. For GPay, the terminal HAS to have NFC support, and if it doesn't, you're SOL. Either way, both are good, it's just you're covered over a broader range with S-Pay. I've had a great experience with S-Pay, with GPay, I have to make sure the store I go to accepts NFC payments, which still, many stores lack. When Samsung secured MST, that was a great move in their part. I do wish Google themselves secured the deal so it could be on their Pixel devices or, this is wishful thinking, that it could be adopted by ALL Android devices.
  • For U.S citizens I agree Samsung Pay is probably the best option of the 2 because MST is still used there so less issues with unsupported terminals and of course the reward scheme. But for the rest of us in the big wide world outside the US where NFC rules and is EVERYWHERE, MST was thrown in the scrap heap 10 years ago I'd argue Google Pay is better. Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Google will work anywhere and are on an equal footing so yeah it comes down to little things for us like the app being better and payments being easier. Plus Google Pay is the only I've with any kind of a rewards scheme at all here The US has to move on from MST at some point and catch up with the rest of the world and thier NFC so adding support to more and newer devices does nothing to help that. For such a modern country I still wonder why the US drags it's heels with technology with the likes of MST and SMS still the dominant messaging service
  • I know, that extra .000001 second is like eternity. Samsung Pay works EVERYWHERE.
  • As does Google and Apple Pay?
  • I have used both. I currently use Samsung pay exclusively. Prior to that I used Android Pay (that's what it was called back then). Android pay was a crapshoot. I'd say that it worked about 60% of the time. I would often open it to use then (at the terminal) realize that I needed to resign in or okay something before I could use it. Samsung Pay, works in the high 90% range. When used as debit, it is very close to flawless. I typically use it from my Gear S3. The one area that I think Samsung pay could get better would be if it could hold other items like tickets to help me organize things a little better.
  • Here in the UK Samsung Pay is no better than Google Pay as MST isn't supported by ANY banks due to security concerns. Oh and did I mention that Google Pay works on ALL Android devices, including those from Samsung. The same can't be said about Samsung Pay. I almost forgot the Google Pay logo is everywhere, now where did I see the Samsung Pay logo again.... ah yes, nowhere!!!!!
  • Since both use NFC, if Google Pay is accepted, Samsung pay is accepted. You don't need a logo to tell you that.
  • You don't need a logo for Google Pay either, if a shop displays the contactless symbol then you can use it. The logo is only there to reassure customers that it's supported. Which is exactly why people ask... "Do you accept Samsung Pay?".
  • I've never asked if they take Samsung Pay because if it's a swipe terminal it accepts it for the most part.
  • It doesn't need a logo if it works at pretty much every terminal... It's like a gas station having a logo of a car manufacturer saying they support Audi gas tanks. Gasoline is universal (save for the Octane), it's used by most cars, so no point in advertising.
  • Why not? Are you afraid the biggest ad company in the world won't know where you shop and how much you're spending?
  • I agree. I love it when my old school cleaners brings everyone from the back of the store to see me pay with my phone on their old terminal. Also I used Samsung Pay in London, Bali, Taipei and Hong Kong
  • Yes but in London you would have used NFC instead.
  • IF it was taken via NFC though, it still used S-Pay then, right?🤔 Ok then, carry on.
  • The MST feature is what cripples the app in Canada where almost every pay terminal actually has NFC. Samsung Pay transmits a "swipe" request to the terminal when it needs a "tap" and then rejects the transaction. There needs to be an option to turn off MST in countries that have already adopted the chip and NFC. Also...bring Samsung Pay to Gear in Canada already!
  • Samsung Pay also has NFC built-in
  • If MST fails, NFC picks up where it left off. Seriously, can you guys argue with facts and not just biased feelings. Or at least know all there is to each system/process.
  • Samsung pay works pretty good for me. MST is almost universal but I find some older systems still wont take it. As for confusing a NFC tap with a MST swipe, I dont ever seem to have that problem.
  • Maybe I'll give it another whirl. Google Pay just works every time for me but I want to use SP. It seems to really get confused on the terminals where the tap part is close to the swipe part so that's why I have this hypothesis. In Canada if a card has a chip it wont allow swiping for security reasons so that's why its declined.
  • It might be Canada. The chip has no bearing on how Samsung pay works for me. Mine never gets confused about what it wants to use. I prefer NFC as is easier but there have been times when I go to tap NFC and it dings the MST first. But it never gets confused. If your machine thinks that chip and pin should override NFC security someone needs to get back to school. Either way, mobile payments are a mess.
  • MST with Samsung Pay is the best... no others compare. In fact it is the main reason I refuse to switch phone to another brand
  • So you buy your phone based on the payment system, good for you!!!
  • What's wrong with that? Everyone has a specific feature that is a go/no go. I was going to buy a pixel 2 but it didn't have wireless charging. People buy iPhones for iMessage or FaceTime. I know I've guy who has the v20 just for the second screen, he loves it. Samsung pay is as viable reason as any.
  • You can't argue with stupid man. I feel ya. This is one of the reasons I will go back to a Samsung device as well. I would love to get a Pixel, but features that Google has implemented in their Nexus devices have gone missing. They are now standard on many other devices from other OEMs.
  • Nothing wrong with that.....Oh, you can but a Gear S3 and use it the exact same way with any modern Android phone.
  • That is also one of the reasons I stick with Samsung.
  • Samsung Pay saved me so many inconvenient trips to the car when at the register because I either left my wallet in the car or at home. It works at 95% of the places that I've been too. Its very convenient and always surprise the cashiers when it works. (They always say we dont support Apple Pay. I tell them its not Apple Pay, its Samsung Pay *beep* *smile and walk out* *dumbfounded look ensues* )
  • i dunno if anyone here has any ideas. but google and Samsung both worked on my s7. went to note 8 and haven't been able to get it to work. if it does just gives an error on the reader [and yes they say they take apple and android pay and used it there before )
  • MST and NFC is the best of both worlds and that's what you get when you have a Samsung Phone.
  • One correction: Samsung Pay does not require the input of biometric verification. A simple pin will suffice.
  • Same with Google Pay, but unless Samsung Pay gives me something more than Google Pay does I'm not interested TBH.
  • How about the ability to use it when there is no NFC, or the rewards system.
  • Both MST and the Samsung Pay rewards scheme are not available in the UK anyway and Google Pay has its own WORLDWIDE, AFAIK, rewards scheme. So Samsung Pay here in the UK offers nothing over Google Pay except that it is tied to Samsung devices but that's nothing to shout about.
  • Android pay has no rewards. And as for the UK, whatever. There is a chance that the no rewards is not a Samsung issue but a problem with the laws of your country, or it just has not, or will not, become available. So blasting Samsung pay for your reasons tell me that you have never used it or tried it once and moved on.
  • Android Pay doesn't, Google Pay does. The point is that without MST and the Rewards Samsung Pay is no better than Google Pay. Just FYI MST isn't supported here because Visa don't allow it in Europe so no, it's not UK laws and you can be damn sure that the banks don't allow it either. Why are you so interested in whether I've used it or not because, how many times am I going to have to reiterate this, MST DOESN'T WORK IN THE UK so even if I have used it then functionally it will ONLY work for me in the same way Google Pay does, via NFC!!!!
  • Then we're talking past each other......
  • I use Samsung Pay in Canada and it's a little faster than Google Pay on my S9 plus. Also, in Canada there are no Samsung Rewards.
  • MST with Samsung Pay is awesome.... I can't see enough cashiers saying oh.. is it Apple Pay.. it wont work... Lol
  • My biggest reason for not using Samsung Pay is that, frankly, I don't trust Samsung with my financial info.
  • Samsung doesn't get your financial info. I would suggest reading how it works.
  • Samsung pay is king in the US since it works everywhere . It is one of the reasons to hold on to a Samsung phone. Android Pay is limited in the US since it does not have MST technology