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Samsung Pay on the Galaxy S21 loses one of its coolest features

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Vs S21 Plus
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Vs S21 Plus (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The Galaxy S21 doesn't come with support for magnetic stripe technology (MST) in the U.S.
  • MST is what Galaxy devices use for contactless payments at terminals that don't support NFC.
  • Samsung states that the feature will not come to future devices.

Samsung seems to be stripping quite a few features from its Samsung Pay service. Recently the company abruptly ended its rewards program, at least as it pertains to transactions made through the Samsung Pay app, meaning there's one less avenue for users to accrue points with the service. The most recent change comes along with the new Galaxy S21 and is a bit more significant as it was one of the main features that gave it a leg up over Google Pay.

Android Police confirms that the Galaxy S21 will no longer support magnetic stripe technology (MST), at least in the U.S. If you're unfamiliar, MST is what lets Galaxy smartphones make contactless payments at stores and anywhere that doesn't support NFC. So any payment terminal with a credit card reader could accept payments made with Samsung Pay on a Galaxy smartphone.

Samsung notes the rise in NFC adoption as its reason for leaving the feature behind:

Due to the rapid adoption of near field communication (NFC) technology by consumers and businesses, beginning with devices launched in 2021, Samsung Pay will focus its support on NFC transactions, across the Galaxy portfolio. While future devices will no longer include magnetic stripe technology (MST), customers with previous, compatible Galaxy devices will be able to continue using Samsung Pay, including MST.

It's a bummer that Samsung Pay is losing one of its most notable features, although that does bring Google Pay closer to parity with the app. Samsung Pay may feature deeper integration with the best Samsung phones, but with Google Pay's rewards program and Plex banking features, it just might be a better option for those of you interested in purchasing a Galaxy S21.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.

26 Comments
  • I use this feature a lot, as most store's still haven't updated there card readers to use contactless pay. That's a real bummer that it's not included. Guess I'll stick with my S20 FE longer.
  • Still! Its 2021. NFC in The UK is ubiquitous. I think banks in the UK didn't charge for replacement readers though. On the plus side it may make vendors finally upgrade, they're years behind other countries.
  • I not only use that feature a lot, but I brag to the stores who tell me that my "Apple Pay" won't work on their terminals. I laugh as I whip out the Samsung Pay and *boom* it works. So... Samsung removed MST. They removed the 3.5mm jack. They removed the microSD slot. Why do I have a feeling that my brand new S10 will be the last Samsung phone I buy? At this rate, why don't they remove the IP68 rating and go with Motorola's "it'll survive a sneeze" water proofing? I'm so old school, I guess, I wish they still have removable batteries (if they did, I might still be on my S7 Edge that I just replaced...).
  • It amazes me that we're now into the third decade of the 21st century and America still uses magnetic stripes... Do you guys still use cheques, too?
  • Cards here I believe are required by law to be chipped now.
  • Nope.
    It's not required by law, but if the card issuer doesn't issue the card with a chip they take responsibility for any fraud, if the card has a chip and the reader doesn't, the store takes responsibility. Nerd wallet did a wite up in 2015.
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/credit-cards/emv-chip-credit-cards-re...
  • A lot of small businesses use old terminals. Samsung bridged the gap.
  • That's not really an excuse though when much of the rest of the world just upgraded the terminals. Samsung never bothered with MST in The UK for example as by the time Samsung Pay launched NFC was everywhere.
  • You joke but paying rent by cheque is still common place. So is SMS. Americans are slow with tech it seems.
  • Guess Ill be keeping my S20 Ultra.
  • I guess the new samsung phone wont stand out anymore. Note20 Ultra for life.
  • Horrible! MST is what seperated Samsung Pay from the rest of the pack! SMH!
  • I know. The number of times the cashier had the WTF look when I used it on a no-tap terminal will always stay with me 🥺
  • Screw you samsung!!! 🖕
  • Wow. I'm going to be holding onto my Note 20 Ultra for a very very very long time.
  • This really blows hard. I'm in absolutely no rush to move on from my Note 10+ now. I can wait until it stops getting OS updates, by which time hopefully every retailer in the country has finally adopted NFC terminals, but I'm really bummed that I'll have to give up this feature in my next phone "upgrade."
  • The rewards and MST were the two reasons to use Samsung pay over Android /Google pay. Now without those why not just use Android/google pay. Serious question, does anyone have a reason?
  • Nope. There were lots of banks that didn't support Samsung Pay either. WIth Samsung moving away from their own apps (Android messages is going to be the default messaging app and Gallery moving to Microsoft OneDrive for its cloud storage) I can see they moving to Android Pay fully. But i'm hoping they don't so older phones still can use the MST/NFC function.
  • I'm in a small US town, and I haven't needed to use MST except at one particular store. Walmart doesn't work consistently with it, so I don't use it there. I'm not happy they removed MST, but I don't see it as needed anymore to be honest.
  • this isn't a loss. i watched some dude try and use it at subway, took him a full minute to get it to work.
    i was like just use a card already.... coulda been done a half hour ago...
  • I used it a lot. A lot of times I might have forgotten my card and I'm at the gas station trying to get gas. This feature has saved me numerous times. I'm going to miss this more than the SD card slot. Google had something to do with this
  • The s21 lost a lot of features.
  • I'm hoping most will come back next year, not MST sadly but the rest. Samsung have precedence, they dropped the SD card in the S6 and brought it back the next year as people simply want it. It was these features that set them apart. Lots of people dislike Samsung's somewhat bloated UX. Nothing to stop OnePlus sales now.
  • To be honest Samsung Pay outside of North America never had MST anyway. In The UK it launched with NFC. Which has made it not all that popular as Google Pay is more popular. I use Google Pay on my Samsung as you don't have that friction of having to select your card first every single time. Their Galaxy Watches globally never shipped with MST either. The writing's been on the wall for some time.
  • Well, there goes my primary reason for using Samsung Pay. Guess I'll go back to Google.
  • just tried to use Google Pay at an O'Reilly Auto Parts store in DFW...didn't work. pulled up the Samsung Pay (with MST) and it worked like a champ. can't believe Samsung has done away with this feature. I imagine I'll be keeping my S10+ for a bit.