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Samsung Pay vs. Google Pay: What’s the Difference?

Samsung Pay and Google Pay logos.

In the Android world, there are two mobile payment platforms to choose from—Samsung Pay and Google Pay. They have a lot in common, but there are some big differences as well. Let’s find out which one you should use.

Samsung Pay and Google Pay are both mobile payment platforms like Apple Pay. The main purpose of these services is to allow you to pay for things by tapping your phone—or smartwatch—to a contactless payment terminal.

What Is Samsung Pay?

Galaxy Watch Active 2.
Joe Fedewa

Let’s start with Samsung Pay, which used to be more unique than it is today. Originally, certain Samsung Galaxy phones had MST (Magnetic Strip Technology) built-in. This allowed the phone to “trick” payment terminals into thinking it was a credit card, even if it didn’t support mobile payments.

Samsung eventually stopped including that technology in Galaxy phones. Nowadays, Samsung Pay is still pre-installed on all Samsung phones and smartwatches, but it only works over NFC (Near Field Communication) like other mobile payment apps.

The concept is pretty simple. You add credit, debit, transit, and loyalty cards to the app, which then stores them. When you want to pay for something in a store, you unlock your phone, choose the card in Samsung Pay, and tap your device to the terminal. Just like that, you’ve made a payment!

There’s one big catch with Samsung Pay—it only works with Samsung devices. That means you either need a Samsung Galaxy phone or a Samsung smartwatch.

RELATED: What is NFC (Near Field Communication), and What Can I Use It For?

What Is Google Pay?

google pay logo

Google Pay is essentially the same exact thing as Samsung Pay, but it’s more universal. You can use Google Pay on most Android devices, including Samsung Galaxy phones and Samsung smartwatches with Wear OS.

It works in the same way as Samsung Pay. You add your credit, debit, transit, and loyalty cards to the app, then you can tap your device to NFC payment terminals to pay for things. Google Pay supports a few more cards, but both services have all the major brands.

Google Pay is much, much more than a mobile payments service. It can be used for peer-to-peer payments, finding deals and getting cash back, tracking your finances, and more.

The most confusing thing about Google Pay is it’s actually two different apps. In the U.S. and Singapore, the tap-to-pay functionality will be spun out into a separate app called “Google Wallet.” The Google Pay app will continue to provide the features mentioned above. In other countries, the entire experience will be in the Google Wallet app.

RELATED: What Is Google Pay, and What Can You Do With It?

Which One Should You Use?

As you can see, there’s a ton of overlap between these two services. The big feature that used to differentiate Samsung Pay—making payments with MST—has been eliminated. So now there’s not much difference.

In general, Google Pay is the better option. It can be used on any Android device, including Samsung Galaxy phones. You can also use it on Samsung smartwatches and other Wear OS watches. The only devices that are restricted to only Samsung Pay are older watches based on Tizen OS.

Google Pay also supports a few more cards and banks than Samsung Pay. Plus, the added benefits of peer-to-peer payments, deals, and financial tracking are nice. Unless you’re super invested in Samsung’s ecosystem, there’s no reason not to go with Google Pay. It will be easier to switch devices in the future.

RELATED: Google Wallet on Android Wants to Replace Your Real Wallet

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