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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

How to use Apple Pay Cash

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

While iOS 11.2 was released seemingly ahead of schedule over the weekend to combat the endless rebooting bug, it did not initially activate the Apple Pay Cash feature that was in the betas. Instead, the ability to send money to contacts via the Messages app came in a gradual rollout on Monday.

If you’re not seeing it in Messages currently, it’s possible your number hasn’t come up yet; force-quitting and restarting Messages could help, as could a reboot of your phone, but you also may have to tap that most valuable of resources: patience.

For those of you who do have Apple Pay showing up, I did a quick test of how it works, spending money so you don’t have to. As promised, Apple Pay Cash is pretty straightforward: when it’s been activated, you should get a full-screen notice inside Messages alerting you that it’s ready to use and accessible via iMessage apps, which you get to by tapping the apps button next to the text field in Messages. (You can also send payments from your Apple Watch.)


By default, Apple Pay Cash has you sending $1, which you can adjust with plus or minus buttons that increment or decrement by a dollar. You can also tap the dollar amount to show a keyboard, which lets you request cents in addition to dollars, though you can’t apparently go below $1. You can also send a request to someone for money.

Important note: Remember that if you pay with a credit card, there’s a 3 percent credit card fee, which I learned the hard way.

When you send the money the first time, you’ll have to verify your identity, including your name, birth date, and the last four digits of your social security number. After that, you’ll get the same Apple Pay screen that you’ll recognize from any other Apple Pay transaction. iPhone X users will have to double-click the side button and authenticate with Face ID; users of earlier iPhones will just have to use Touch ID. Then, your money goes off at the speed of light.1

Payment accepted
You’ll also get a notification when your payment is accepted.

Under Settings > Wallet & Apple Pay, you’ll find a new Apple Pay Cash card—tapping on that gives you a few additional options, including a transaction history, whether or not you want to automatically accept payments, and ways to add money to your Apple Pay Cash balance or transfer your balance to a bank account. Remember that when you have a balance on your Apple Pay Cash card, you’ll be able to use it like any other card you have in Apple Pay. (I’m not sure yet what happens if there’s not enough balance to cover your purchase—does it simply fail or fall back to another card?)

Apple’s got a more thorough help document on Apple Pay Cash if you’re curious, as well as one that details the monetary limits. (Hint: Don’t try to store more than $20,000 on your Apple Pay Cash card.)

  1. Or the speed of iMessage. Which is often much slower than light. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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