Apple Pay Not Working? Here’s How to Fix it

Person using Apple Pay at a counter.

Digital wallets are a popular convenience, but dealing with Apple Pay when it’s not working ruins the experience. It can be frustrating, but don’t worry. There are several fixes to handle this issue.

Quick Fixes for Apple Pay Not Working

Before getting into any major troubleshooting steps for Apple Pay, focus on common quick fixes that could have you back up and running in just a few minutes.

  • Restart your iPhone. It’s super simple, but your phone may just need a quick refresh for Apple Pay to work again. This is especially true if you haven’t had issues before.
  • Charge your iPhone. When your iPhone drops down to 10% or less, Apple Pay may not function correctly. Charge your phone to see if this helps. Keep a wireless charger nearby to simply lay your phone on when you’re not using it. You can even set your phone to notify you when it reaches 80%.
  • Ensure that you have Internet. Obviously, Apple Pay isn’t going to work without Internet access. Check that you have either a Wi-Fi or mobile connection. Also, ensure that it’s strong enough. A weak signal also causes issues. Troubleshoot your mobile connection issues with these steps. You can verify Internet access with any app that requires Internet, such as Safari. If Safari isn’t working, try these tips.
  • Ensure that the retailer accepts Apple Pay. Despite how popular mobile wallets are, not every retailer accepts them. Before trying to pay, check whether Apple Pay is supported.
  • Update your device. If you haven’t updated to the latest version of iOS, update it. Some apps, including Apple Pay, may not work on older versions of iOS.

Is Your Phone Case Interfering?

Phone cases can interfere with the NFC communication that Apple Pay relies on. Heavy-duty rubber shockproof, metal, and magnetic cases can all be causes of Apple Pay not working.

The best way to test this is, of course, to take your iPhone out of its case and test Apple Pay. If it works this way but not when it’s in the case, look into getting a new phone case.

Sign Out and Back In to Your Apple Account

This solution was reported by users attempting to use Apple Pay between their iPhone or Apple Watch and an NFC reader on their Mac. While the method has worked when using Apple Pay with a Mac, it’s also worth trying if Apple Pay on your phone doesn’t work in shops or other scenarios. Just sign out and back in to your Apple account.

Open Settings on your device, and tap your Apple ID. Scroll down and select Sign Out.

Sign out of your Apple account in the settings menu.

Confirm you want to sign out. If you want to keep a copy of any information on the device, check the applicable items. Everything you’ve stored in iCloud remains in iCloud.

Sign back in by going to Settings again and tapping on the Sign in to your iPhone/iPad at the top.

If you’re using a Mac, click Apple menu -> System Preferences -> iCloud -> Sign Out. Sign in again.

Make Sure Apple Pay Isn’t Down

If Apple Pay isn’t working, it may not be a problem with your device. It could be that the Web service Apple Pay uses on the backend is down. If this is the case, you may just need to wait a few minutes until it’s back up.

Take a quick look at the Apple System Status website to check for any current outages. If Apple Pay has a green dot beside it, this isn’t the problem.

List of Apple services currently available on the Apple System Status website.

Try Using a Different Reader

Issues with Apple Pay not working are sometimes a retailer problem. If one payment terminal doesn’t work, try using another. After all, equipment can have glitches and does sometimes fail. If this fixes the problem, let the retailer know so that they can fix the problematic terminal.

Manually Select a Card

It’s possible that even if an Apple Pay-ready terminal works with your phone, its NFC reader hasn’t properly detected Apple Pay. If you find that simply holding your phone up to the terminal doesn’t work, try selecting a card manually.

Apple Wallet app on an iPhone screen.

Open the Wallet app, then select the card you want to use. Hold your phone next to the reader. If this works, use Touch ID or Face ID when prompted, and your transaction should complete.

Re-Add Your Card or Update Details

If you have a card that consistently has issues with Apple Pay, try removing it and re-adding it to Apple Pay. This is also handy if you’ve just received a new card from your credit card company, as the changed details may not always automatically register with Apple Pay.

Adding a new card to fix Apple Pay not working issue.

Open Settings -> Wallet & Apple Pay on your phone. Select the card you want to re-add, then tap Remove Card. Return to Settings -> Wallet & Apple Pay, select Add Credit or Debit Card, and follow the prompts to add your card.

If your card’s expiration date has changed, you’ll need to update this in your wallet. It doesn’t happen automatically. You can either remove and re-add, or just go to Settings -> Your Apple ID -> Payment & Shipping. Tap your card and select Edit. Make the changes and save it.

Always Choose Credit

It may seem odd, but sometimes if you choose debit as your payment method on the payment terminal, Apple Pay won’t work. Try selecting credit, even if you’re using a debit card. This may solve the issue and allow you to pay with your debit card with no problem.

If you’ve exhausted all other methods, it’s possible your card is the issue. You can test the physical card in a store to see if it works. If not, contact your bank. Occasionally, credit and debit cards have a glitch and don’t work properly when physically swiping them or in mobile wallets.

Your bank may need to reissue you a replacement card. The card readers the store uses may also be having trouble with specific types of cards, and the bank may be able to resolve the issue for you and other customers.

Also, check that your bank supports Apple Pay. If it doesn’t, none of the above will fix problems with Apple Pay not working. Check Apple’s list of participating banks before contacting your bank. It’s also helpful to check whether Apple Pay is available where you’re traveling, as some areas don’t support it yet.

There’s no denying that Apple Pay is easier than carrying around a physical wallet. If you’re considering using a different wallet, see how Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay compare. Or, if you’re looking for a new credit card, check out these virtual options.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Crystal Crowder.

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Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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