The Future is Here: Start Paying with Your Phone

Smartphones are essential technology for everyday life. They’re even starting to cover some non-tech needs. According to Deviceatlas, 18 percent of Smartphone users already use their phone for mobile payments, with another 52 percent aware of the option. Thinking of joining them? Converting your phone into a digital wallet has never been easier, whether you use Android or iOS. Here’s what you need to know, and the best apps for paying digitally.

It’s actually pretty safe.

It may seem scary at first, but ultimately, using your phone to pay is actually safer than traditional plastic cards. Each transaction using your phone scrambles your payment information, so you use a unique code for every purchase. This makes your digital information useless to hackers, and since the card will not work unless you allow access using your fingerprint, they still won’t have access to your information if it’s stolen.

It’s easy, too.

Paying by phone is also incredibly easy. Simply add your payment information to your Smartphone and authorize its use, then hold your phone or connected smartwatch near a payment terminal at the time of purchase. Yep, that’s all it takes.

Have a backup plan.

It’s important to note that, as great as going plastic-free may be, there’s one main drawback: many merchants haven’t adopted the technology. While you’ll still need to carry around a traditional payment method, it’s fun to pay with your phone at the places that currently accept it.

Finally, remember that if you go “cardless” and your phone battery dies, you’re out of luck until you juice up. If you’re not diligent about keeping your phone charged, don’t go all-in on pay-by-phone.

Top Payment Apps


This handy pay-by-phone app is free to download, and allows you to connect your phone with your bank account to make paying friends and family a snap. Out to a group dinner? No need to split the bill between several cards. One person can cover the payment, then request money digitally through the app. It’s a great way to save time and spare your group (and your server) some headaches.


If you struggle to keep track of your gift cards, this free app is for you. With Gyft, you simply enter the information for all your miscellaneous gift cards and the app inputs the information and tells you your balance for easy in-store and online payment. Never worry about losing a gift card again.

Google Wallet

Send money to friends and family using just an email or phone number. A fast and free way to transfer funds, this pay-by-phone (and on the web) app simplifies paying back friends. It’s encrypted and protected against fraud, which can give you peace of mind.

Built-in Wallet Apps 

Many mobile operating systems come with digital wallet features that allow you to make purchases within apps and on the internet. It’s the digital equivalent of using your phone itself to pay – no more digging through your wallet and punching in a credit card number. Simply add your credit or debit card information and you can select it easily when completing a purchase in-app or online. You can add multiple payment methods, any of which will also be available for paying by phone in the real world.

After you’ve got the spending part down and need help saving, check out our guide to budgeting apps.