How, when and where to use a digital wallet.
As digital wallet usage continues to grow, here are some things to know about this popular payment option.
Remind me again: What’s a digital wallet?A digital wallet is essentially an electronic version of a physical wallet. Often referred to as a mobile wallet since many people use them on their smartphones and smart watches, digital wallets are accessible through an app that’s installed on your digital device. To get started, you simply need to link your payment information from credit cards, debit cards or bank accounts to the digital wallet app on your preferred devices.
Using a digital wallet has many benefits. Transactions are fast, contactless and more secure. You can view a transaction history for each payment method stored in your digital wallet for easier recordkeeping. And unlike a physical wallet, digital wallets offer a lower risk of theft compared to using cash and physical cards.
What are some ways to pay with a digital wallet?
- In-store: There’s nothing to swipe or insert at the register when you’re making an in-store purchase. Open your wallet app and hold your mobile device or smart watch over the payment reader wherever you see the contactless symbol. While many do, not all physical retailers accept digital wallets. So, you may want to have access to another payment method just in case.
- Online: If you’re shopping on your computer or tablet, simply select the digital wallet payment option at checkout. You may be prompted to log in or provide a password, but you’ll save time by not having to enter your name, address and card information every time you make an online purchase.
- In-app: Similar to online shopping, select your digital wallet as the payment option for in-app purchases, like a rideshare or food delivery, so you don’t have to enter your payment information every time you use that app.
- Peer-to-peer: Send or request money to or from someone who has an account with the same app. For example, if you want to reimburse a friend for concert tickets, transferring funds is as easy as a tap.
What are some other ways to use a digital wallet?As handy as they are for storing credit cards and simplifying payments, digital wallets also offer a convenient, secure way to store, organize and quickly access important documents like these:
- Boarding passes
- Tickets to concerts, movies, sports and other events
- Mass transit passes
- Membership cards
- ID cards
- Gift cards
- Store loyalty cards
- Insurance cards
- Driver’s licenses (in some states)
Are digital wallets safe?When you enter your payment card information into your digital wallet, the data is encrypted into a unique code, which helps prevent fraudulent activity. When you make a purchase, a device account number, known as a token, is used to transmit your payment information to the merchant — instead of your actual account number.
Digital wallets offer additional security features. Your digital wallet can’t be used to make a payment without your authorization. And unlike items in a physical wallet, if your device is lost or stolen, the information in your digital wallet is protected with an additional layer of security, whether it’s your password, fingerprint or facial recognition.
How to choose a digital wallet.When deciding which digital wallet is best for your needs, consider your device type, lifestyle and financial goals. You can choose one or multiple digital wallets. For instance, you might want one for making purchases and one for splitting bills with friends and family.
Most digital wallets are free to use and can store several payment cards at once. Almost all new mobile devices — like smartphones and smartwatches — come with digital wallet apps pre-installed. Common digital wallets include:
- Apple Pay® for use with Apple devices
- Google Pay™ for use with Android devices
- Samsung Pay® for use with Samsung devices
- FitBit Pay™ and Garmin Pay™ let you easily pay from your watch
- Zelle® and Venmo let you securely send money to and receive money from others
- PayPal® lets you shop, pay bills, and send and request money