Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay: Which Tap To Pay Is Right for You?

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Using your smartphone’s digital wallet to make contactless mobile payments is an increasingly popular payment method. With the press of a button or a tap at the point of purchase, you can pay for products and services or send money to a friend or family member.

But which of these two popular digital wallets is the better choice: Samsung Pay or Google Pay? Designed for Android phones, they offer nearly the same features. The biggest difference is the phones they can be installed on: Samsung Pay is only available on Samsung devices, but Google Pay can be used on any device, including iPhones.

Understanding the few subtle differences can help you decide which one’s best for you. Read on to find out how they compare before you choose.

Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay at a Glance

Before diving into the details, here’s a quick look at the most important features of Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay.

Feature Samsung Pay Google Pay
Compatibility Samsung devices only Android and Apple devices
Technology NFC and MST on older devices NFC
Payment Types Accepted Bank account, credit, debit, PayPal Bank account, credit, debit, PayPal
Security Tokenization Multiple layers of industry-leading encryption

Samsung Pay

If you have a Samsung phone, chances are you have the Samsung Pay app already installed as a default app. The digital wallet has been a long-time favorite of users who like the easy-use interface and those who need to use magnetic secure transmission (MST) technology. For years, Samsung Pay supported the older MST as well as near-field communication (NFC), which is now more common. However, Samsung discontinued MST support for its phones beginning with the debut of the S21 series phone.

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Using Samsung Pay

The user experience with Samsung Pay is largely positive. To open the app, simply swipe up from the bottom of the display on the home screen or lock screen. You also can swipe from left to right to quickly switch between linked debit and credit cards when it’s time to pay. The wallet also is compatible with PayPal.

To make purchases through Samsung Pay, you must first link it to a debit, credit, or gift card compatible with the platform. When you’re adding the funding source, you also have the option to set up biometric security for additional protection.

Additionally, Samsung Pay supports membership, loyalty and gift cards. When you add them to your account, you have access to them wherever you have your phone. The wallet can also store a digital version of your COVID-19 vaccination record.

Samsung Pay Rewards and Bonuses

When you enroll in Samsung Pay, you can sign up for the Samsung Rewards loyalty program and earn points when you purchase products and services from the manufacturer. The total number of points you earn in a calendar year determines which tier level you qualify for: silver, gold or platinum. Here’s how they compare:

  • Silver: 0.5% back in Samsung Rewards points and points multipliers
  • Gold: 1% back in Samsung Rewards points, points multipliers and 10% discounts on select Samsung products
  • Platinum: 1.5% back in Samsung Rewards points, points multipliers, special events and promotions early access and 10% to 20% discounts on select Samsung products

You can redeem points for Samsung products in the Samsung Shop, the Samsung App, the Galaxy Store or the Samsung Rewards catalog. Rewards members also qualify for discounts on services like haul away and installation for Samsung appliances.

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Samsung Pay users also enjoy cash back from select merchants through the Samsung Pay app. Cash back amounts range from 2% to 5%, and some restrictions may apply. Participating merchants have the right to exclude items from the cash back reward, and you must complete the purchase in the app on your phone to earn the cash.

Why Is Samsung Pay the Best?

Samsung Pay’s rewards program gives the app an edge over Google Pay. Since you earn points for every purchase made through the app, you have more opportunities to score. If you’re a fan of Samsung’s line of products, including electronics and appliances, you’ll also be able to earn bigger discounts to use when you purchase big ticket items as you move through the tiered levels.

The major drawback of Samsung Pay is that it’s compatible only with select Samsung phones and watches. However, with Android 6.0 or higher, you can use Samsung Pay on your smartwatch even if it’s connected to a non-Samsung Android phone.

Samsung Pay can be used anywhere outside the U.S. where your payment method is accepted. Support for the Galaxy Watch Active is available in 15 countries, according to Samsung’s website. There is no fee to use Samsung Pay.

Pros

  • Has both NFC and MST technology for older devices
  • PayPal is available for in-store purchases
  • Compatible with smartwatches
  • Competitve rewards program

Cons

  • Available only for Samsung devices

Google Pay

Google Pay, formerly Android Pay, is an app by Google designed specifically for mobile payment services as part of Google Wallet. You can use it to pay for purchases, receive payments, split bills, fill out Google Chrome forms automatically and even send money to family members and friends.

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Like Samsung Pay, this mobile wallet lets you store your credit and debit cards, as well as loyalty and membership cards. You can make in-store purchases through Google Wallet as long as the merchant displays the Google Pay or contactless pay symbols. The app is compatible with Android phones and iPhones that run iOS 12.0 or later, as well as select smartwatches.

Google Pay Rewards

You can earn rewards when you use Google Pay to send money to someone, purchase items and refer friends. It starts with the welcome offer you receive when you complete your first qualifying transaction in the app.

Other ways to earn rewards points include making contactless payments in stores, purchasing Groupon deals and accepting checkout promo codes from merchants. Google Pay also gives you rewards when you use the balance in your digital wallet to complete purchases.

For the most current information about available rewards, see what’s available in the Google Pay app. You’ll also be able to see the qualifying activities you need to complete to earn the rewards for your account.

Why Is Google Pay the Best?

For those who want a digital wallet that can be used in more places, Google Pay is the winner. You can use it on any Android device — including Samsung products — and on iPhone or iPad if you’re in the U.S. or India. This digital wallet lets you make payments in well over 40 countries across the world with Android devices.

The Google Pay wallet has an excellent user interface that makes it easy for users to see all their bonuses, deposits and gift vouchers. Google’s decision to allow Google Pay to store transportation passes for travel in the U.S. and around the world has popularized this platform more than ever. You can also keep copies of important travel documents and store digital car keys in the app.

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Google Pay has limits for the amounts you can deposit, send, receive and transfer — $5,000 over a rolling seven-day timeframe. If you haven’t verified your identity, your weekly limit is just $500 and $5,000 for a lifetime.

Pros

  • Available for both Android and iOS users
  • Connect mobile wallet account to PayPal
  • Pay family members and friends

Cons

  • Limits on transactions

What’s the Difference Between Google Pay and Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay is only available on Samsung devices, while Google Pay is compatible with Android phones and iPhones that run iOS 12.0 or later, as well as select smartwatches.

However, Samsung Pay can use either NFC or MST — for older phones — digital technology to make transactions, while Google Pay only is compatible with NFC.

Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay: Similarities

Despite their differences, Samsung Pay and Google Pay have several similarities. For instance, the platforms are both available for Android users. Provided your Android device is NFC enabled, you can make contactless payments.

Another similarity is the user-friendly design of both wallets. You get open access to information like your verified credit and debit cards, boarding cards and loyalty cards in a single place. Also, Samsung Pay and Google Pay have made it possible for users to easily send money to their families and friends, as long as they have a verified account. Finally, both payment platforms are readily accepted both online and off.

Which Is Safer: Google Pay or Samsung Pay?

Both Samsung Pay and Google Pay implement several security features to protect your information. However, Samsung Knox gives Samsung’s payment app an edge. Below is an overview of the systems they use.

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Samsung Pay’s Security

Samsung Pay has several security features, including tokenization, to keep your personal information safe. In addition, the app employs Samsung Knox, a defense-grade multi-layered technology platform that monitors your phone and protects it from malware attacks and other security threats.

In the event you lose your phone, the SmartThings Find feature can remotely lock Samsung Pay or remove it from your phone. Samsung Pay also allows you to authenticate transactions by using its fingerprint scanner or iris scanner features.

Google Pay’s Security

You can rest assured of secure transactions with Google Pay, since it uses NFC technology, renowned for its high security. Google Pay offers additional protection through fraud alerts, authentication and virtual account numbers to protect your account information.

Other security features include fingerprint scanning and facial recognition. These security features make it almost impossible for hackers and other third parties to gain access to your private financial data.

Which Is Better To Use: Samsung Pay or Google Pay?

What makes one mobile payment app better than the rest entirely depends on your preferences. If you don’t have a Samsung phone, Google Pay is the obvious choice — and a good one, considering its comprehensive features. Even if you have a Samsung phone, you may appreciate the design and convenience of Google Pay, since it works with all Android devices and select iPhones.

Although Samsung Pay has traditionally had an edge over Google Pay due to its MST technology, this matters less as more merchants adopt NFC technology. Unless you have an older Samsung phone and live in a region where MST technology is still in use, this may not be a selling point.

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Takeaway

The best mobile payment app for you depends on your needs, and at the end of the day, the choice is yours. If you use Samsung and make large or very frequent transactions, Samsung Pay is probably the way to go. Otherwise, Google Pay is a great choice for Android and iOS users who want an app to pay family members and friends.

FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay.
  • Which is safer — Google Pay or Samsung Pay?
    • Both Google Pay and Samsung Pay employ forms of high-level data security, so neither is significantly safer than the other.
  • Is it a good idea to use Samsung Pay?
    • As long as you have a compatible Samsung device, it can be a good idea to use Samsung Pay due to its convenience. You can link Samsung Pay to debit and credit cards, your PayPal account and membership, loyalty and gift cards.
  • What is the difference between Google Pay and Samsung Pay?
    • The biggest difference between Samsung Pay and Google Pay is the devices they're available on. You can use Google Pay on just about any device, but Samsung Pay is only compatible with Samsung devices – although you can use Samsung Pay on a smartwatch, even if the connected phone is not a Samsung.
  • What are the cons of Samsung Pay?
    • The biggest con of Samsung Pay is that you must have a Samsung device to use it.
  • Does Samsung Pay charge a fee?
    • No, there are no fees to use Samsung Pay.
    • You may end up paying more to your service provider if you overuse your data, however.
  • What are the disadvantages of Google Pay?
    • The biggest disadvantage of Google Pay is the transaction limits. Before you verify your account, you have a limit of $500 per day and $5,000 for a lifetime. After verification, that increases to $5,000 in a rolling seven-day timeframe.

Cynthia Measom, Daria Uhlig and Allison Hache contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of April 12, 2023.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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