Pros and cons of Apple Pay in Canada
Don't leave your wallet at home...yet
For many techie people (myself included) the arrival of Apple Pay was somewhat of a relief. Announced in the US in 2014, then the UK in 2015, it seemed like Canada was never going to get it. I used and praised it last week, but there are some things to keep in mind if you'll be using it all the time.
The case for it
Since May 10, I've used Apple Pay at three coffee shops (one local, two chains), McDonald's, the Liquor Mart, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Cineplex. My pro list below is based on those transactions.
- Extremely fast—just as quick as Visa payWave or Mastercard PayPass.
- Well-organized—receipts arrive 30 seconds after each transaction, and your entire history of purchases on the phone is in the Wallet app (under the "i" in the bottom right corner).
- Easy to set up—I wrote this in the last post, but it really is simple. Scan card. Input security stuff. Receive text. Input code. It's four steps that take 2-3 minutes max. Incredibly simple.
The case against
There were a few places it didn't work: Tutti Frutti, Stella's, and Anytime Fitness. The reasons are below, respectively:
- Some places still don't have tap—you can't use it if the terminal is too old.
- There's no tip option—just like any tap card, tapping your phone assumes the entered amount is the correct—and final—amount. Once you tap, there's no going back. If your total is $30 at a restaurant and you want to tip $5, you'll have to ask your server to input $35 for you. Asking works, unless you don't want to look your server in the eye and tell him/her what you're tipping. If you're okay with that, great— if not, it's tap or tip, and you can only choose one.
- Your transactions have a purchase limit—I don't know if it's the bank, the merchant, your specific type of card, or all three. I couldn't pay at Anytime Fitness because the membership fee was $120—apparently $20 over my tap limit. In principle, I like the limit—I don't want anyone stealing my VISA and tapping out thousands of dollars—but it's different with a phone. The fingerprint scanner makes these transactions more secure, so ostensibly the limit isn't necessary. It works the same way as a tap card, but would the debit/credit machine know the difference between phones and cards? Could the limit be eliminated on phones only?
Apple Pay is great, but it's not for everybody. It works for small transactions at most high-traffic merchants, but for bigger purchases (and the ones with tips) you'll still need a card.
Bottom line: if you don't tip/don't eat out often, and your favorite stores all use tap, this could be the wallet killer. And if you're like me, and almost everything goes on your credit card, you might as well set it up.
If not? Keep your cards close by.