Best Mobile Payment Apps of 2024

Updated


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Digital wallets, or mobile payments, are becoming more widely used, estimated to have around 4.4 billion users by 2025, according to Juniper Research. Small businesses need to adopt the technology needed to take these payments. Fortunately, the most popular mobile payment services are the best.

The Best Mobile Payment App: Our Top Pick

We chose Apple Pay as the best mobile payment system because it is widely accepted, extremely secure, and Apple products take top market share.

Our Top Picks

Apple Pay

Best Mobile Payment App

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Google Pay

Widest Range of Devices

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Zelle

Best for Paying Friends

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PayPal

Best for Ecommerce

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Samsung Pay

Best Rewards

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Digital.com dives deep into every topic it covers to offer trusted and reliable recommendations for the best business tools. See how we review mobile payment apps.


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The Best Mobile Payment Apps

Apple Pay logo

Apple Pay

Best Mobile Payment Service

Features

  • Widely accepted
  • Apple products own top market share
  • Extremely secure with tokenization

#1 Top Pick

Despite Apple Pay only being available on Apple devices, it’s one of the most secure, easiest to use, and widely-accepted mobile payment apps.

Cost
Free for users, standard processing fees for merchants

Transaction Limits
$10,000

Market Share
85% of retailers accept Apple Pay

Device Compatibility
iOS, watchOS, Mac OS, iPadOS, Safari

Read More

Despite Apple Pay only being available on Apple devices, it’s one of the most secure, easiest to use, and widely-accepted mobile payment apps around. It’s free to use to make payments in person or online — and you can send cash to people you know.

Two iPhones. The left shows an ecommerce shop with Apple Pay. The second shows Apple Pay inside of an Apple Wallet

Apple Pay is one of the best-known ways to make mobile payments. According to Apple, more than 85% of retailers in the U.S. accept Apple Pay, which makes it practically ubiquitous. It also offers one of the most secure ways to pay for goods in person, surpassing that of debit and credit cards.

The best payment processors should offer an NFC card reader to enable you to accept it. I use Apple Pay for purchases in places notorious for card skimming. Unbeknownst to merchants, many people fall victim to card skimmers installed at gas stations, ATMs, and restaurants.

One of the reasons Apple Pay has such strong security is that Apple encrypts your credit card data on its servers and then encrypts it with unique tokens each time you use it. You have to authenticate each transaction using your fingerprint, face recognition, or your six-digit PIN for your phone. Apple Pay’s strongest selling points are its security and the fact that it’s widely accepted.

Apple Pay doesn’t cost extra for merchants or users. Rather, Apple Pay charges banks directly. The cost may be felt by merchants, but it’s miniscule.

Other benefits of Apple Pay: As a merchant, you can accept it online, and as a user, you can use it from your Mac or iPad via the Safari browser. Plus, you can use it to send money to friends or family (U.S. only).

The only downside to Apple Pay is that it’s only available on Apple products, which alienates a whole user base that prefers Android OS or Samsung.

  • Who is Apple Pay best for?
    The obvious answer to who Apple Pay is best for is Apple product users, but beyond that, I suggest all merchants get a card reader that accepts Apple Pay. I find it’s the most secure method of payment — especially in person. If you accept Apple Pay on your website, customers can pay online with Apple Pay if they use the Safari browser or via their own app.
  • Recent upgrades to Apple Pay
    I’d heard rumors about this recent upgrade to Apple Pay, and I think it could threaten all other mobile payment providers if they don’t also do this. You can turn your iPhone into a card reader using Adyen, Square, or Stripe as your payment processor. Literally, a customer can just tap their phone or watch to your iPhone to pay. Another big trend in the payments world is buy now, pay later, and Apple is getting on board with Apple Pay Later. As a merchant, you don’t have to do anything, and as a customer, you can choose this mobile payment method to split a big purchase into four smaller payments and pay zero interest.
  • Apple Pay pricing
    Whether you’re a retailer or a user, Apple Pay won’t cost you anything extra to accept it or use it. So, how does Apple make its money through Apple Pay? If you’re transferring Apple Cash to a bank account, you can do so with no fees, but you have to wait a couple days for the transfer to complete, or you can pay 1.5% (to a max of $15) to get an instant transfer. Apple also makes money by charging the bank that issued the card 0.15% fee.

Reasons to choose Apple Pay

  • Widely accepted
  • Apple products take top market share
  • Extremely secure

Reasons to avoid

  • Only works on Apple products
  • Instant transfer costs up to $15

Visit Apple Pay

Google Pay logo

Google Pay

Widest Range of Device Support

Features

  • Works on all types of devices
  • Pay anyone in person or online
  • Great for iOS and Android

Cost
1.5% fee for debit transfers, processing fees for merchants

Transaction Limits
$5,000

Market Share
Google Pay has 21% of the market (25 million users)

Device Compatibility
iOS & Android

Read More

Unlike many other mobile payment apps, Google Pay works on most devices because it’s tied to your Google account. This makes it easy for you (if you use Google) to make payments online or in person. And Google Pay is easy for you to accept whether you run an online store or a brick-and-mortar shop.

On the left is a mobile screenshot from the Google Pay app. On the right is a mobile checkout form with Google Pay as an option

Google combined Android Pay and Google Wallet to create Google Pay to compete with other mobile payment apps. It chose a more homogenized path for users by creating an app for iOS and Android, so you can use it on almost any device.

If you want to accept Google Pay at your store, you need to have two things: a contactless card reader and a UPI ID (unified payments interface identity). To accept Google Pay online, you need to use the Google API (application programming interface) and a payment processor that supports it — many of the best do.

The benefit of accepting Google Pay is that you provide a secure way for your customers to make payments.

Also, Google Pay is super organized; I like that I can see how much I’m spending through Google Pay and see how much I spend at each merchant.Its strongest selling points are security and compatibility — it uses tokenization like other mobile payment apps, and you can use it on almost any device.

One of the things I like best about Google Pay is that it combines so many mobile payment methods. I can use it to purchase items in-store, online, or use it to send money to friends. The peer-to-peer method does cost you, though (see pricing below).

Google Pay is a bit limiting in a few ways. I couldn’t use it on my Apple Watch. And the transaction limits are a bit confusing.

  • Who is Google Pay best for?
    I personally use Google Pay specifically for Google purchases — it’s just easier to set up subscriptions that way. Otherwise I stick to Apple Pay because it makes more sense for my iPhone and Apple Watch.

    With that said, I think Google Pay is a great choice for you to have as a merchant just to give customers more options. And as a user, I think it makes sense for you to use it if you aren’t already using another mobile payment app.

    I would say Google Pay isn’t the pick for debit card transfers; although the 1.5% fee (minimum of $0.31) is low, you can use another peer-to-peer app for paying friends and family with no fee. Also, you both have to be using Google Pay for it to work.

    You can easily see retailers, restaurants, and people you’ve paid using Google Pay.
  • Recent upgrades to Google Pay
    Google has brought back Google Wallet. It’s only available for Android devices, but it works similarly to Apple Wallet. You can store boarding passes, event tickets, and credit and debit cards in your Google Wallet.
  • Google Pay pricing
    Make checkout quick and give your customers more choice by adding Google Pay to your online checkouts. You won’t be charged anything to use Google Pay, whether you’re a merchant or a user. However, there is a small 1.5% fee for debit card transfers from your Google Pay balance (minimum of $0.31).

Reasons to choose Google Pay

  • Works on Android and iOS
  • Pay anyone in person and online
  • Works across multiple devices

Reasons to avoid

  • Users pay a 1.5% fee on debit transfers
  • Confusing transaction limits

Visit Google Pay

Zelle logo

Zelle

Best for Paying Friends

Features

  • Free to use
  • Fast money transfers
  • Send money using your bank account

Cost
Free for users

Transaction Limits
Varies

Market Share
15.1 million users

Device Compatibility
iOS, Android, bank apps

Read More

Zelle is a mobile payment app that works by connecting directly to your bank account. You can use Zelle to pay bills, friends, or even service workers — and the beauty is that you don’t have to use the same bank for it to work.

iPhone on the left shows home screen where you can pay or transfer money. iPhone on the right shows creating a payment request in Zelle.

Zelle has quite a bit of competition in the P2P (peer-to-peer) payment market, and it somewhat competes with the business side of mobile payment apps. It’s managing to do well despite its smaller user base because it positioned itself inside banking apps across the U.S., making it an easy choice for sending money to friends or even service-based businesses.

Open your banking app and you’re likely to see Zelle in there. It’s in my banking apps and I use it. If I just want to transfer money from one bank to another, I just use the regular transfer option, but if I want to send money to a friend or my landscaper, I use Zelle.

Zelle has made it ridiculously easy for you to send or receive money. All you have to do is connect your banking account by verifying your identity using a phone number or an email address, which should also be associated with your bank.

In fact, its strongest selling point might be that you don’t even have to have Zelle in your banking app to receive money. Just download the Zelle app and register to get your cash deposited to your account.

I’m a big fan of Zelle because transfers are instant and there are no fees. With that said, Zelle doesn’t offer purchase protection, so I have to be 100% certain I can trust those I send money to.

  • Who is Zelle best for?
    My testing and research showed that businesses may have a harder time using Zelle. As long as you’re using a bank that supports Zelle it’s possible, but it’s better if you’re running a service-based business that tends to send invoices to customers. For example, I use it to pay my landscaper. I think it’s also best for you if you’re just sending money to someone you know; all you need is their phone number or email address to send.

    You don’t even need to be a Zelle user to receive money; all a sender needs is your phone number or email address to send you money.
  • Recent upgrades to Zelle
    There are no published roadmaps for Zelle. The most recent upgrade to Zelle is how many financial institutions signed up to include Zelle in their apps (more than 1,100 at publication time).
  • Zelle pricing
    It’s easy to request money from others and split the cost for something using Zelle.

    Zelle doesn’t charge a fee for sending or receiving money. Small businesses can even accept payments via Zelle and there’s zero fee (at least by Zelle). Some banks may charge you a fee as a business, but it’s likely on par with low transaction fees.

Reasons to choose Zelle

  • Fast money transfers
  • Send money using bank account
  • Free to use

Reasons to avoid

  • No purchase protection for users
  • Only bank transfers allowed

Visit Zelle

PayPal logo

PayPal

Best for Ecommerce

Features

  • Popular online payment option
  • Works on most devices
  • Includes purchase protection

Cost
Free for users, varies for other activities

Transaction Limits
$4,000 to $60,000

Market Share
42% of global online payments

Device Compatibility
iOS, Android, browsers

Read More

PayPal is one of the best-known online and mobile payment apps in the world, which is why it’s captured more than 40% of the online payment market share. It’s easy to use and there are no fees to send or receive money to others. Small businesses are smart to include PayPal as a payment option — especially online.

Left iPhone shows savings account features inside of PayPal. The right phone shows the home page where you can send and request money, see your activities, and manage your account

It’s easy to check out online via PayPal; you just need to click a button and log into your PayPal to pay.

PayPal is practically synonymous with online shopping. More than 425 million people use the online and mobile payment app, which is one of the largest user bases. It helps that PayPal is free to use, can be used via an app for iOS or Android, or can use it on a browser.

If you run an online store and you aren’t offering PayPal as a checkout option, you could be losing out on big revenue. According to a study by Forrester Consulting (paid for by PayPal), 35% of mobile users abandoned a purchase because their preferred method of payment wasn’t available.

I use PayPal regularly because I’ve found it’s easier to keep all my online purchases in one place in case I need to return anything; I’ve never had an issue with refunds. It’s fair to say PayPal’s biggest benefit is that it’s easy to make payments online, and it’s also easy to add a PayPal button to your online store.

I like the idea of being able to pay for purchases in person with PayPal. It isn’t nearly as straightforward as the tap-to-pay method most mobile payment apps use, but it’s still doable. PayPal has its own POS (point of sale) system, or you can set up a QR (quick response) code to let customers pay for items with their mobile devices.

  • Who is PayPal best for?
    I feel like everyone is already using PayPal, and it’s right for everyone. Mostly, I’d say it’s a great pick for online sellers, though it’s also workable for in-store payments. It’s easy to use a QR code to pay, but if you haven’t used QR codes before then you might need a little instruction. Just use your mobile phone’s camera to scan the QR code.

    You can easily send money to someone you know on PayPal. It’s equally easy to send money to small businesses or freelancers using a phone number or email address.
  • Recent upgrades to PayPal
    It’s safe to say PayPal is mostly an online payment solution, but it seems to always be branching out in other ways. It’s a financial institution in its own right, with options for buying and selling cryptocurrencies, as a bank, and now you can even set up a savings account with PayPal.
  • PayPal pricing
    It costs nothing for you to send or receive money to family and friends. If you’re a business owner, though, you’ll pay a myriad of fees depending on how you receive money for goods or services. I can’t show you all the rates, but the range is 1.5% to 8% (average rates are 2.99%).

    It’s also worth noting that instant transfers from your PayPal balance to your bank account will incur a 1.75% fee. And as a business owner, you’re looking at some high chargeback fees ($20) and dispute fees ($15 to $30).

Reasons to choose PayPal

  • Popular online payment option
  • Works on most devices
  • Includes purchase protection

Reasons to avoid

  • Lots of merchant fees
  • 1.75% fee for instant transfers
  • High transaction fees for businesses

Visit PayPal

Features

  • Works with most card readers
  • Offers a rewards program to customers
  • Secure payments

Cost
Free for users, processing fees for merchants

Transaction Limits
N/A

Market Share
16.3 million users and less than 20% of global share

Device Compatibility
Galaxy, GearOS

Read More

Samsung may be best known for electronics, which could be why it offers one of the most unique value propositions in the mobile payment app space: It works on older card readers. It also offers a points reward system for using its app.

Left phone shows the Samsung Pay app, and also shows a Walrgreens rewards card + a Gap gift card. The right phone shows cashback deals inside Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay has stepped up the mobile payment app game with many features not found in its competitors’ apps. You can use it to pay for goods and services almost anywhere credit cards are accepted, earn rewards, and breathe easy knowing it’s secure.

As a merchant, you don’t have to worry too much about how to accept Samsung Pay. Even if you have an older card reader, it should still accept Samsung Pay payments, though this is being phased out for newer Galaxy models. Honestly, that is one of Samsung Pay’s biggest selling points.

I have to say I was surprised to see a rewards program from Samsung Pay. Typically you expect rewards programs from credit cards, not a payment app, so it’s a nice bonus that you can get cash back. Also, you shouldn’t see any added fees for accepting or using Samsung Pay.

  • Who is Samsung Pay best for?
    I found that Samsung Pay is easy for merchants to accept. You don’t even have to do anything to ensure you can accept it, but maybe check with your payment processor to make sure it isn’t a problem.

    Also, it should go without saying that you’ll only use Samsung Pay if you have a Galaxy phone. Is it worth it to switch your phone to use Samsung Pay? No. It has some nice features, but you can’t use it to pay for gas at the pump, and it doesn’t have a browser-based app for paying online. If you use Samsung Pay to buy stuff at certain retailers, you can earn points for rewards and cash back.
  • Recent upgrades to Samsung Pay
    Samsung Pay is a bit quiet about how it improves its app, so there isn’t much to say about recent upgrades. There does seem to be a plan in the works to make Samsung Pay available in more markets.

    As of now, Samsung Pay works in most retail shops around the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.
  • Samsung Pay pricing
    Samsung has figured out how to send a magnetic signal from your app to a swipe card reader. There are no fees to use Samsung Pay. In fact, Samsung offers you its 30% off employee discount on Samsung products.

Reasons to choose Samsung Pay

  • Works with most card readers
  • Offers a rewards program to customers
  • Secure payments

Reasons to avoid

  • Only works on Galaxy phones
  • No peer-to-peer payments

Visit Samsung Pay

Compare Mobile Payment Services

Mobile Payment Apps

Best Features

Pricing

Apple Pay logo

Apple Pay

Best Mobile Payment Service

  • Widely accepted
  • Apple products have top market share
  • Extremely secure with tokenization

Free for users, merchants pay processing fees

Google Pay logo

Google Pay

Widest Range of Device Support

  • Works on Android and iOS
  • Pay anyone in person or online
  • Works across multiple devices

Free for users, merchants pay processing fees

Zelle logo

Zelle

Best for Paying Friends

  • Quick money transfers
  • Send money using your bank account
  • Free to use

Free for users

PayPal logo

PayPal

Best for Ecommerce

  • Popular online payment option
  • Works on most devices
  • Includes purchase protection

Free for purchases, varied rates for other purposes

Samsung Pay logo

Samsung Pay

Best Rewards

  • Works with most card readers
  • Offers a strong rewards program
  • Secure payments

Free for users, merchants pay processing fees

What You Need to Know

What is mobile payment and how does it work?

A mobile payment is a contactless way of paying that involves a mobile device such as a mobile phone, a smartwatch, or a tablet. Mobile payments are typically completed using a digital wallet or mobile app, and can be linked to bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, and other payment methods. The payment process typically involves scanning a QR code or tapping a mobile device on an NFC reader to securely initiate the payment.

What are the three types of mobile payments?

The three types of mobile payments are:

  • NFC (near-field communication) payments: These payments are made by tapping a credit card or mobile device at a point-of-sale (POS) terminal. Examples include Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
  • Direct carrier billing: This payment method allows customers to charge their purchases to their mobile phone bill.
  • Mobile wallets: These digital wallets store payment information and can be used to make payments in participating stores via an app or website. Examples include PayPal, Venmo, and Cash App.

What are the advantages of using a mobile payment system?

Some benefits of mobile payment systems include:

  • Convenience
  • Speed
  • Security
  • Increased mobility
  • Increased Efficiency

What are some disadvantages of using a mobile payment system?

Some drawbacks of mobile payment systems can include:

  • Battery life
  • Provider coverage
  • Security concerns
  • Complexity
  • Dependence on devices

How We Review Mobile Payment Apps

It’s easy for me to test mobile payment services because I use so many of them. For the ones I wasn’t familiar with, I downloaded the app and tested it as a consumer. This is mostly to get a feel for the app and how easy it is to pay for goods or services with it. I also examined how each mobile payment service allows business owners to accept payments. The easiest way to adopt these payment options is to incorporate them into what you’re already using, like a contactless card reader.

Testing mobile payment services mostly comes down to ease of use. I compared security features, transaction limits, and fees, if present. It’s also important to consider how widely each mobile wallet option is accepted, the market share of specific devices (and the payment app itself), and where you can make payments in person and online.

With each mobile payment service, I tested its:

  • Ease of use: The installation and use of each app to make sure they’re easy to implement 
  • Security: look for payment options that offer tokenization or biometric security that only allows transactions if you use your fingerprint or other physical characteristics
  • Fees and limits: Most mobile payment services limit how much money you can transfer from peer to peer or from customer to merchant. These limits may be per transaction, week, or day.
  • Device compatibility: Some of the best mobile payment services work on any device because they work through apps made for the most popular operating systems
  • Market share: Consider which mobile payment services have the top market share or the largest user base.

Learn more about our review methodology.

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