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Making payments while traveling: Can I use Apple Pay and Google Pay?

Apple Pay and Google Pay can be used internationally.

· 3 min read

In the fast-evolving landscape of mobile wallets, contactless payments using Apple Pay and Google Pay have emerged as leaders, offering convenient and secure ways to make transactions. If you are a frequent user of mobile payment services, you might be wondering if you can also use these payment services to make payments internationally when you travel, and if you might need to do anything different to use these payments abroad. The short answer is, yes you can use these mobile payments internationally in countries which support them; and no, you don’t need to do anything differently.


How Mobile Payment Services Work

Mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Google Pay leverage Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to facilitate transactions. This allows the payment process to be completed through a secure and encrypted connection between the user's device and the payment terminal.

These mobile payment services are designed to work without an internet connection, not unlike how your credit card would be able to work without an internet connection.

Transactions on the mobile payment services are carried out through a tokenisation process, which replaces sensitive card information with a unique token (Device Account Number) that is stored securely on the device. This token is used for each transaction, ensuring that actual card details are never exposed.

When you make a payment, the NFC technology communicates directly with the payment terminal, bypassing the need for an active data or Wi-Fi connection.

Do Apple Pay and Google Pay work internationally?

Yes, they do! Apple Pay and Google Pay can work worldwide, provided the country you are traveling to accepts contactless payment. Of course, the store that you are buying from will need to accept these options as a payment method, and they will need to accept international credit cards -- there are some places that accept only local credit cards, even if they do support contactless payment.

While Apple Pay and Google Pay as a service can work internationally, whether your payment is successful also depends on your bank and any restrictions that might be in place. You will need to make sure that your bank allows you to use your cards for payments while overseas.

Do I need to do anything to use Apple Pay and Google Pay internationally?

You will need to ensure that your cards are enabled for overseas transaction! But aside from that, no, there isn’t anything else that you need to do to enable your Apple Pay and Google Pay for use overseas.

It is useful to still have cash with you when traveling

While cashless payments are becoming increasingly popular globally, it is important to still have cash with you especially when you are travelling.

After all, not all establishments and stores will accept contactless payments; and for some that do, they might only accept contactless payments in the form of their local contactless payment rather than credit card transactions. Cash is also useful in certain situations such as when you need to top up your transport card.

Furthermore, the currency exchange rates using credit card payments are often really bad, and there could be additional service charges. While there are an increasing number of global financial services such as Wise or Revolut that allow you to enjoy better exchange rates, they are also not always without service fees or transaction limits.

So, wherever your travels may bring you, it is recommended to still head down to the currency exchange to get some cash!

Check for local payment methods before you travel

Aside from cash, it is also useful to check for other contactless payment methods that might be commonly used at your destination. This opens up your options in the event that credit cards are not accepted.

An obvious example would be that if you are traveling to China, you would probably want to set up your WeChat Pay and AliPay accounts before your trip. And if you are traveling to Taiwan, consider if you might want to set up Line Pay if your preference is to still use contactless payments rather than cash.

Get a Nomad travel eSIM to stay connected on your next trip

While Apple Pay and Google Pay do not require you to have internet connection since the transactions are done through NFC, we can’t say the same for other forms of contactless payment methods.

Whether you are scanning a QR code to make a payment through WeChat Pay or AliPay, or whether you are trying to top up your Revolut or Wise wallet, it is essential for you to have a steady internet connection for your transaction to go through.

Nomad offers data plans in over 170 countries, and you can be sure to find one that is suitable for your travel needs. And if you will be traveling across multiple countries, there are also regional plans available so you can stay seamlessly connected as you hop between countries. Data plans are available from as low as $1.10/GB.

The networks that Nomad's eSIMs use for each plan are stated on the plan details on the web store and apps, so you can check which networks are supported before buying your plan. Data sharing and tethering is also supported on Nomad's eSIM plans.

If you share your Nomad referral code with your friends, your friend will stand to enjoy 25% off their first purchase of a Nomad eSIM of plans that are USD 5 and above. You will also receive a 25% off coupon that you can use for your next purchase!