Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay: Which is Better?

Revolut Contributor

 · February 27, 2020  · 02/27/2020

In the world of mobile payment services, the option for those of you without an iPhone is a simple one: Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay (Android Pay is the old name for the latter). Which one should you choose? Well, that depends upon your needs and lifestyle.

Both mobile payment providers for Android phones – Samsung’s and Google’s – do essentially the same thing. They allow you to store your payment card details on your phone and to pay for transactions, both online and over the counter, with your device. By keeping all of your bank details on an app, they streamline the process of payment – and do away with the need for cards and cash.

But it’s not easy to know which to choose – particularly when they’re so similar. That’s why a Samsung Pay vs Google Pay comparison is in order, to see exactly how they stack up.

What is Google Pay?

Google Pay is the name for the mobile payment service run by Google. As an online payment system that powers in-app and online payments, you can store all of your credit and debit card information on your smartphone. You can also save vouchers, gift cards, boarding passes, and event tickets in its digital wallet, whilst you can link it up with your PayPal account and pay with that too.

As is necessary for such services these days, it also enables cashless payments with its tap-to-pay feature – meaning that you can pay in-store with your phone.

You can use Google Pay on any Android phone that has near-field communication (NFC) functionality – i.e. the technology that powers contactless payments. The vast majority of mobile devices have an NFC chip these days, apart from the old-timers or budget models.

Some of Google Pay’s functions run on iOS phones too. However, paying in store is not one of them.

And Android Pay, what is that?

Android Pay was the name of the payment service offered by Google before Google Pay. It was mainly used for in-app purchases, whilst the alternative service, Google Wallet, could be used for in-store transaction, as well as for sending money to peers.

In January 2018, the two services became one: Google Pay. So, if you are still looking for Android Pay, you are a little late to the party.

What is Samsung Pay?

Samsung Pay is the mobile payment service developed and offered by Samsung. However, whilst Google Pay is available on all Android devices that support NFC technology, Samsung Pay is limited to Samsung devices only. If you have a Samsung device, great; if not, this isn’t the payment system for you.

The primary difference that Samsung Pay has from its competitor is that it doesn’t only use NFC. It uses magnetic secure transmission (MST) technology too, which mimics the signal from a credit card’s magnetic strip. This is a perk, because whilst you can use NFC everywhere that you have a contactless card machine, MST allows you to use your phone to pay wherever there is a credit card machine too.

Like Google Pay, Samsung Pay can be used to store membership and loyalty cards as well – and can also be connected with PayPal.

Can You Really Use Samsung Pay Anywhere?

One of the more common questions asked on Google is whether you can actually use Samsung Pay anywhere. Whilst this question presumably responds to its clever combination of MST and NFC functionalities, this might be more savvy marketing than reality.

Whilst Samsung Pay does allow you to pay everywhere that has a card machine, this important element is still necessary. Meanwhile, Google Pay remains more widely available than Samsung Pay, which is limited to 24 countries. Samsung’s MST function is even more limited, working only in Australia and USA.

Meanwhile, according to Which?, much fewer banks support Samsung Pay than they do Google Pay.

Is Samsung Pay better than Google Pay?

Whilst Samsung Pay does have the combined MST and NFC technology, that’s not to say it is “better” than Google’s alternative. We’ve seen two things – its geographical availability, and being limited to Samsung phones – that may be considered drawbacks. That said, let’s take a closer look at the precise features that determine which might win in the battle of Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay...

So, Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay: Which One Wins?

At the beginning of this article, we said that your position on Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay will depend on your individual needs and your lifestyle. This remains true, as there may be things that you want from your mobile payment that one just does not provide.

Security:

Google Pay and Samsung Pay use the same technologies to ensure the security of your financial information. Neither stores bank details on your device, whilst every card is ‘tokenised’ during payment, meaning that you are not sharing your card number, but a surrogate.

Further, both use biometric technology – fingerprint scanners or facial recognition – to ensure that it really is you that’s paying with your card. However, Samsung claims to have the most secure mobile system on the planet, Knox – which is used even by the UK government.

Read also: Is Google Pay safe?

Travel:

If you frequently travel internationally, Google Pay is more likely to be the better option for you. Supported in a greater number of countries and including boarding pass storage, Google’s offering is more convenient if you’re often on the move.

On the other hand, Samsung Pay has recently launched an international payment service with which you can send money to people in nearly 50 countries. Google Pay, meanwhile, only allows domestic cash transfers. So, if international transfers are something that are important to you, then this might make a difference.

Furthermore, if you often leave the big cities to go to areas where contactless NFC terminals are not so widely available, Samsung Pay’s MST technology will be helpful. However, with its limited availability, this is only a perk in countries where this feature functions.

Limits?

Finally, it is worth saying that neither Google Pay nor Samsung Pay have a limit on the value of transactions. Within the app itself, payments are without limits.

Vendors may themselves set a Samsung or Google Pay limit, usually at £30, that caps the use of in-store payments at the same value as contactless payments with cards.

Conclusion: Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay

In the end, the choice is yours. However, if you are interested in Samsung Pay, you really will need a Samsung phone. It just won’t work on any other device. This might ultimately be one of your deciding factors. Google Pay works on all Android devices with NFC technology, and it’s up to you whether the perks of Samsung will make you go out to buy a Samsung smartphone.