Apple Pay is now live in the UK - here's how to set it up, and how to use it

Apple Pay in the UK
Apple Pay in the UK

Apple Pay has now launched in the UK and it's confirmed you can use the service in any store with a contactless terminal at the checkout.

Apple made a big song of dance of highlighting certain retailers as Apple Pay "partners", but the truth is that you can use the service at any store that accepts contactless even if they're not an advertised partner of Apple Pay.

Jeremy Nicholds, Executive Director of Mobile at Visa Europe told TechRadar, "All retailers that currently offer their customers the option to pay using contactless can accept Apple Pay. In the UK this includes household names such as Boots, Tesco, Nandos, Café Nero, the Co-operative Food and Morrisons."

How to set up Apple Pay

So how easy is Apple Pay to set up? All you need to do is enter your debit or credit card within Passbook on your iPhone. Your options here are to manually enter the details, use a linked card from your iTunes account or use the iSight camera to scan the card.

Only certain banks support the service including, American Express, Nationwide, NatWest, RBS, Santander, First Direct, HSBC and Ulster Bank. Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Barclays, Halifax, TSB, M&S Bank and MBNA are still to come.

Apple Pay in the UK

It'll only work with the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or an Apple Watch paired with an iPhone 5 and above.

Once it's all set up you'll be able to tap your iPhone or Apple Watch on any terminal in UK stores where you see the contactless or Apple Pay logo. If you've got an iPhone you'll need to use TouchID to prove it's you.

Upper limit

But the good news is once you're set up on Apple Pay you'll be able to use the service on contactless terminals in both big and small retailers.

Most retailers will be restricted to the standard UK £20 limit on contactless payments but that can be extended with a simple software update, if the shop wishes.

Apple Pay in the UK

Speaking about retailers, Nicholds said, "If they wish to accept higher value payments above this threshold they will need to update their software.

"Apple Pay is enabling users to make contactless payments above the £20 limit due to its Touch ID verification."

Most retailers are likely to stick to that limit though – Waitrose has confirmed to TechRadar it won't be upping the limit - but some may choose to offer higher values.

Contactless for all

Upon the initial announcement Apple revealed a big selection of participating retailers including the likes of M&S, McDonalds and Starbucks suggesting it would only work with these stores. But it's not just restricted to those stores.

McDonalds Apple Pay logo

Most of the UK supermarkets are noticeably absent from Apple's list of participating retailers; only three feature in the list which are Waitrose, M&S Food and Lidl.

Apple Pay in the UK

We contacted the big 5 supermarkets in the UK and none of them wished to speak with us about it. Morrisons, Waitrose and Sainsbury's all refused to comment whilst the Co-Op, ASDA and Tesco all ignored our requests.

What about the big guns?

And that's quite odd – why wouldn't the supermarkets want to publicise the fact they're involved in one of the biggest steps in the history of currency?

Vladimir Vukicevic, Lead Analyst at Cards and Payments Intelligence Centre at Timetric said, "For data analytics/loyalty programmes purposes retailers want to have access to consumer/transaction data.

"That's why [Apple Pay] is not particularly attractive proposition for many retailers."

Apple Pay in the UK

When using a contactless payment card your data is still available to the retailer, much like when you put it in and punch in your PIN, but when using Apple Pay the data doesn't go through the retailer directly.

Vukicevic also said it's why a variety of US stores aren't taking part in the service. It's possible this is why some of the UK supermarkets don't want to highlight Apple Pay will work in their stores from today.

James Peckham

James is the Editor-in-Chief at Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.