Apple Pay vs. Apple Cash: Key Differences Explained


As of 2022, 535.8 million people used the digital wallet service Apple Pay, with more than half of all iPhone users enabling the service on their device. In 2017, Apple introduced a companion to their proprietary digital wallet, Apple Pay Cash. Renamed simply “Apple Cash” in 2019, the service allows peer-to-peer payments through the Apple Wallet.

Both services offer convenience, security, and seamless integration with your Apple device. Here’s an all-encompassing guide to mastering Apple Pay and Apple Cash.

man using Apple Pay

Apple Pay vs. Apple Cash: What’s the difference?

While both Apple Pay and Apple Cash are part of Apple’s suite of financial services and both live within the Apple Wallet, they serve different purposes and offer different functionalities.

Apple Pay is a mobile payment solution that effectively digitizes your physical debit and credit cards, enabling you to make purchases without needing to carry around or use physical cards. You can use Apple Pay to make payments in stores, in apps, or online wherever Apple Pay or contactless payments are accepted.

On the other hand, Apple Cash is a peer-to-peer payment system that allows you to send, receive, and request money from others through the Messages app. The money sent and received through Apple Cash goes to your Apple Cash card – a virtual card that resides in your Apple Wallet. From there, you can use that money to make purchases via Apple Pay, send it to someone else, or transfer it to your bank account.

So, while they are interconnected, Apple Pay is mainly for making purchases, while Apple Cash is for peer-to-peer transactions. Understanding these differences can help you get the most out of what Apple has to offer in terms of financial transactions.

What is Apple Pay?

At its core, Apple Pay is a mobile payment and digital wallet service developed by Apple Inc. But in essence, it’s much more than that; it’s a glimpse into the future of digital payments. Apple Pay allows users to make payments in person, online, and in iOS apps through various Apple devices, including iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, and Macs.

Apple Pay offers a secure, private way to pay, helping you avoid handing your credit or debit cards to others, touching physical buttons, or exchanging cash, especially in a world increasingly aware of contactless interactions.

It works by storing digital versions of your credit or debit cards in your Apple Wallet, an app that comes pre-installed on all Apple devices. Once your cards are added to your Wallet, you can use Apple Pay to transact with these cards without needing to carry them physically or reveal your card details to merchants.

How does Apple Pay work?

Here’s a closer look at how Apple Pay works. When you make a purchase, Apple Pay uses a device-specific number and a unique transaction code to process your payment. Your card number isn’t stored on your device or on Apple’s servers, and when you pay, your card numbers are never shared by Apple with merchants.

It simplifies the transaction process by turning your device into a payment terminal. To pay in stores, there’s no need to wake your iPhone or open an app. You simply hold your iPhone near the reader with your finger on Touch ID. With an iPhone X or later, you can double-click the side button, glance at your screen for Face ID, or enter your passcode before holding your iPhone near the reader.

On your Apple Watch, double-click the side button and hold the display of your Apple Watch within a few centimeters of the contactless reader. The process is secured with a gentle tap and a beep to confirm that your payment information was sent.

For online or in-app purchases, the Apple Pay option is available as a payment method. Authenticate the transaction using Touch ID, Face ID, or a passcode, and the payment is processed without the need to enter your card information.

One of the noteworthy aspects of Apple Pay is that it’s accepted by millions of stores in hundreds of countries and regions. These include everyday establishments like grocery stores, restaurants, boutiques, and online platforms, enabling you to make payments effortlessly. Plus, you can use Apple Pay to make transit system payments in select cities worldwide.

Why use Apple Pay?

Apple Pay presents a forward-thinking way to handle your transactions. In an era where personal finance management increasingly leans towards digital, services like Apple Pay offer a fast, secure, and contactless way to pay. The true beauty lies in its ease of use and seamless integration with other Apple services and devices. You can manage your cards and transactions across your Apple devices, fostering a synchronized experience.

In summary, Apple Pay is a secure and private way to pay, turning your Apple device into a digital wallet and making cash or card handling a thing of the past. It’s a transformative technology that changes how we handle personal finance, showcasing how far we’ve come in the past few decades in terms of financial transactions.

What is Apple Cash?

Apple Cash, formerly known as Apple Pay Cash, is a feature provided by Apple that allows you to send, receive, and request money. Think of it as Apple’s version of Venmo or PayPal, but baked directly into your iPhone’s operating system. This service works in tandem with Apple Pay, enhancing its capabilities beyond just making payments and into the realm of peer-to-peer transactions.

Unlike other digital peer-to-peer payment systems, Apple Cash doesn’t require you to download a separate app or set up a new account. If you already use Apple Pay, getting started with Apple Cash is quick and simple.

Understanding Apple Cash

Apple Cash transforms the Messages app into a platform for sending and receiving money with other Apple users. It utilizes Apple Pay for transactions, but the money resides in an Apple Cash digital card housed within your Apple Wallet. This digital card essentially behaves as a prepaid debit card.

When someone sends you money, it lands in your Apple Cash account, and you can use it immediately with Apple Pay for purchases in stores, online, or within apps. Alternatively, you can transfer the money to a connected bank account or send it to other Apple users.

Setting Up Apple Cash

To start using Apple Cash, open the Wallet app on your iPhone and tap on the Apple Cash card. If you don’t see an Apple Cash card, it means you need to set it up. To do this, tap the ‘+’ button to add a card and then select Apple Cash. You’ll need to follow the on-screen instructions, which may include verifying your identity.

Once you’ve set up your Apple Cash account, you can add funds to it using a linked bank account or debit card.

Using Apple Cash

Apple Cash allows you to send and receive money with ease. To send money, start a new message in the Messages app, tap the Apple Pay icon, enter an amount, then tap “Pay.” To receive money, open a message from someone who has sent you money, then tap “Accept.” You’ll need to have an Apple Cash account set up to accept money.

Moreover, if you have a family group set up via Apple Family Sharing, you can enable Apple Cash Family. This allows you to share your Apple Cash account with your family group, providing a convenient way for family members to send and receive money from each other.

Security and Privacy with Apple Cash

Your financial security and privacy are of utmost importance when it comes to digital transactions. Similar to Apple Pay, Apple Cash incorporates a range of security features to ensure your transactions and financial information are safeguarded.

Each transaction requires you to authenticate with Face ID, Touch ID, or your passcode. Your card details are not stored on your device or on Apple’s servers, and when you pay, they’re not shared with merchants.

Every transaction generates a unique dynamic security code, securing each transaction. You can also check your transaction history in the Wallet app, allowing you to track your spending and keep tabs on any fraudulent activity.

Linking Apple Cash and Apple Pay

The seamless integration of Apple Cash and Apple Pay provides a unified digital wallet experience on your Apple device. When you set up and link Apple Cash and Apple Pay, it becomes more convenient to send and receive money, spend your Apple Cash balance, and make contactless payments.

How to Link Apple Cash and Apple Pay

Setting up the link between Apple Cash and Apple Pay is essentially about setting up Apple Cash since Apple Pay is the foundational service. To do this, you need to open the Wallet app and tap on the Apple Cash card. If it’s not visible, you can add it by tapping the “+” button and following the prompts. You may need to verify your identity.

The bank account or debit card you’ve linked to Apple Pay can be used to add money to your Apple Cash account, providing a seamless connection between the two services.

Using Linked Apple Cash and Apple Pay

When someone sends you money through Apple Cash, the funds are added directly to your Apple Cash card. From there, you have a variety of options on how to use those funds.

You can use your Apple Cash balance to make Apple Pay purchases in stores, online, or in apps that accept Apple Pay. This offers a swift way to use received funds without the need for transferring money to other accounts or withdrawing it.

Alternatively, you can transfer money from your Apple Cash account to your linked bank account. This can be useful for times when you need to move money into your savings account or when you want to use the funds in a location that doesn’t accept Apple Pay.

Comparison with Other Digital Payment Platforms

In today’s digital age, there are a plethora of digital payment services available. Each has its own unique features and nuances. Here, we’ll compare Apple Cash and Apple Pay with three other popular payment options: Google Wallet, Samsung Wallet, and PayPal.

Google Wallet

Google Wallet, formerly known as Android Pay and then Google Pay, is Google’s answer to Apple Pay. Like Apple Pay, Google Wallet allows users to make contactless payments using NFC technology at physical stores and to make payments within apps and websites. Google Wallet also incorporates a peer-to-peer payment system for sending and receiving money.

Advantages: Google Wallet is widely accepted, and it is compatible with both Android and iOS devices, unlike Apple Pay, which is limited to Apple products. Also, Google Wallet doesn’t require special NFC terminals and can work on any credit card reader.

Disadvantages: Security concerns have been raised about Google’s data collection practices. Additionally, while Google Wallet can be used on iOS, its functionality is limited compared to the Android version.

Samsung Wallet

Samsung Wallet, developed by Samsung and previously called Samsung Pay, offers similar features to Apple Pay and Google Wallet. It allows contactless payments and digital wallet functionalities.

Advantages: Samsung upgraded Samsung Pay to Samsung Wallet, offering the ability to make mobile payments and also store digital IDs, loyalty cards, digital assets, digital hotel room keys and more. In older Samsung devices (pre-2021) Samsung Wallet can use magnetic stripe technology for purchases at registers lacking NFC technology.

Disadvantages: Samsung Wallet is limited to Samsung devices, which limits its user base. Plus, it lacks a built-in peer-to-peer payment feature.


PayPal is a pioneer of digital payments and has a wide user base. It allows users to send and receive money, and it can be used for online purchases at many websites.

Advantages: PayPal’s broad acceptance for online shopping and international money transfers are significant advantages. It’s platform-independent, meaning it can be used on any device with an Internet connection.

Disadvantages: PayPal fees can be high, especially for business transactions and international transfers.


Apple Pay and Apple Cash have transformed how we manage personal finance, making it easier and more convenient than ever to send money, make purchases, and handle everyday transactions.

As digital wallets become more mainstream, services like Google Wallet, Samsung Wallet and PayPal also emerge as contenders. Apple’s suite of services shines with seamless integration, robust security, and user-friendly interfaces for iOS users.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use Apple Pay and Apple Cash internationally?

Apple Pay is accepted in many countries, but availability can vary. Apple Cash, however, is currently only available in the United States.

Are there any fees associated with using Apple Pay or Apple Cash?

Apple Pay typically does not incur fees for users. For Apple Cash, there are no fees for most transactions, but there may be a fee for instant transfers to your bank account.

What if I lose my iPhone or Apple device? Is my Apple Cash and Apple Pay information safe?

Your Apple Cash and Apple Pay information is secure. If your device is lost or stolen, you can use Apple’s Find My iPhone to lock your device or erase your personal information.

How do I dispute a charge or transaction made with Apple Pay or Apple Cash?

For disputes with Apple Pay transactions, you should contact the bank or card issuer linked to your Apple Pay. For Apple Cash disputes, you can contact Apple Support for assistance.

How does the Apple Card work with Apple Cash and Apple Pay?

The Apple Card seamlessly integrates with Apple Cash and Apple Pay. Using the Apple Card with Apple Pay earns Daily Cash, which is added to your Apple Cash balance. This balance can be used for purchases, sent to others, or transferred to your bank. The Apple Card is managed via the Wallet app, offering a convenient experience with Apple’s payment services.

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