Google Pay vs. Samsung Pay: Which tap to pay system is best?
As smartphones have become an indispensable part of our lives, the way we make payments has also evolved. The introduction of NFC (Near Field Communication) technology to Android phones in 2011 marked a turning point in the world of mobile payments. Many carriers tried to stick their noses in NFC payments when the technology rolled out, but they failed.
Today, making contactless payments using your Android phone is not only possible but also easy, regardless of your carrier or the price of your phone.
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NFC works with payment platforms, and with quite a few options available, choosing which one to use can be overwhelming. If you own a Samsung phone, you have two options: Samsung Pay and Google Pay. Both platforms offer tap-to-pay NFC functionality, but the overall experience, from setting up to using the service, is quite different.
This article compares Samsung Pay and Google Pay in detail to help you choose the best one for your needs, regardless of whether you have a budget or a high-end Android phone.
History and evolution of Samsung Pay and Google Pay
Samsung Pay and Google Pay have undergone several somewhat complicated changes over the years, but Samsung is much easier to follow. Shortly after Google revealed that it would launch a new wallet app, Samsung followed suit and announced Samsung Wallet in June 2022. The new app replaced Samsung Pay and Samsung Pass to become a hub for everything related to payments, digital IDs, digital keys, and loyalty programs on Samsung Galaxy phones.
Google Wallet offered a similar experience, replacing the Google Pay app. However, it wouldn’t be a Google rebranding if things were so straightforward. While most countries got the new Google Wallet, both apps exist side-by-side and are fully functional in the U.S. and Singapore, making for a slightly confusing situation for users.
And if you’re wondering, the apps are not exactly the same. Google Pay offers everything: peer-to-peer payments, deals, rewards, and personal finance tools, while Google Wallet is more tailored to mobile payments.
Installation and device integration
The significant difference between Samsung Pay and Google Pay is the devices they support. If you have a Samsung phone, you can install any payment service.
However, if you own another Android device or iOS, you can only use Google’s payment platform, thanks to Samsung Pay being locked to Galaxy phones. While you can use Google Pay on iPhones, the tap-to-pay functionality doesn’t work as it’s restricted to only Apple apps. Meanwhile, Google Wallet is not available for iPhones at all.
Regional availability and local card support
While both apps are only available in a few dozen countries, Google Pay supports more locations.
Google Pay is available in over 50 countries, while Samsung Pay is only available in 13. However, both companies are continuously increasing their reach and availability. Regarding actual usage, Google Pay works with almost any card in the U.S.
Most of the newly added banks are smaller local networks and credit unions, and they keep coming. At this point, there are so many supported banks that it’s becoming hard to find ones that aren’t listed. Google Pay also supports membership cards, gift cards, and transit passes in a few places.
Some airlines have added plane tickets, too. Although, the app’s reliance on your phone number for logins is a bit annoying.
Online and in-person payment options
Google Pay and Samsung Pay support NFC technology, allowing you to make physical payments by tapping your NFC-supported Android phone on a compatible card reader. Not all merchants have NFC-compatible payment terminals, so this isn’t always an option.
Samsung phones used to have a technology called MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) to push the magnetic stripe data from your card to non-NFC terminals, but not anymore. The latest Samsung Galaxy S23 series lacks the feature. You shouldn’t hold your breath for future support, either.
Samsung moved away from that with the S21 family when it dropped MST support in the U.S., eliminating one of Samsung’s major advantages over Google Pay. As far as online payments go, many retailers have both platforms as accepted payment gateways, and the number only continues to increase. However, Google Pay is the superior option as more merchants accept it.
NFC payments are, despite what you may hear, highly secure.
As long as your phone is protected with a code or biometric unlock method, NFC is more secure than using a physical credit card. That’s not just because of the extra authentication layer; your actual credit card number is not stored on your phone with NFC payments. Instead, a virtual card number is assigned to you, which the card reader sees when you use tap-to-pay, making your real card number harder to compromise at the point of sale level.
However, Samsung Pay might have a data security edge over Google Pay. While both services have data encryption and built-in authentication, Samsung’s solution is secured by Knox, the company’s mobile security platform and robust encryption solution. Knox is built into Samsung phones, from the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 to the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
It’s also available on several Galaxy Tab tablets, M series phones, and A series phones.
Samsung Pay and Google Pay support gift and membership cards. Samsung offers numerous discounts and special deals (which can be a bit spammy). Although, odds are you won’t care about most of the retailers offering discounts in the app.
Meanwhile, Google Pay has more robust offers, rewards, cashback from several merchants, and various in-store and online coupons.
The best aspect of Samsung Pay is Samsung Rewards. It allows you to earn points while shopping on the service and later redeem them through purchases on the Samsung app or official website. While its loyalty cards, vouchers, and other offers are great, Google Pay falls short in this regard, as it lacks its own rewards system.
Google Pay vs.
Samsung Pay: which should you use?
If you’re in the market for a new Android phone, Samsung Pay shouldn’t be the deciding factor. While it was once a standout service due to its MST technology, which allowed it to be used with older card readers, the feature has been dropped from the latest Samsung phones. In contrast, Google Pay offers a seamless and enjoyable payment experience for all Android phones with NFC capabilities.
Even if you own a Samsung phone, you might find that Google Pay is a better option. With Android 12, Google Pay has become even easier to use thanks to the addition of payment cards to the lock screen shortcuts. This makes it quicker and more convenient to make payments on the go.
If you currently use Samsung’s solution and want to switch to Google’s, you might want to disable the former first.
Because what’s the point of having both?
Here’s how to disable Samsung Wallet (and Pay) on your Galaxy phone.