Apple Cash vs Apple Pay: How do they work?

Adam Rozsa

Apple Pay offers an easy way to make mobile contactless payment with your Apple device, via the Apple Wallet app, while Apple Cash lets users in the US send and receive money, hold an Apple Cash balance and transfer money back to a bank account easily. Both services have some similarities - but what exactly is the difference between Apple Pay vs Apple Cash?

This guide covers a full Apple Cash vs Apple Pay review, and we’ll also introduce Wise as an easy, Apple Pay compatible way to send and receive international payments, and spend on the move with an international Wise card.

Wise sign up

What is Apple Cash?

Apple Cash¹ is a payment card that lives in your Apple Wallet - it’s already on your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch - and if you want a physical card you can also order an Apple Cash card to complement the virtual one. Use your Apple Cash card to make mobile payments, or send money with Apple Pay via Apple Cash and Apple Messages. You can also use Apple Cash to request money - handy for splitting bills and paying back friends in the US.

If you have kids under 18 years, Apple Cash family is another handy option, giving virtual Apple prepaid cards you can top up, that younger family members can then use as payment cards in person and online, through Apple Pay.

How does Apple Cash work?

You can use your Apple Cash card alongside Apple Pay to make mobile payments in stores and online. Just select the Apple Cash card in your wallet when you use your smart device to make a contactless payment, or look out for the Apple Pay symbol when you’re shopping with ecommerce stores.

You can also use Apple Cash to easily send money to other Apple device users in the US, through Messages. Just open a chat you’ve been having with the person you want to send money to, and tap the Apple Cash button. You’ll see your payment options and can enter the amount you want to send right away.

Receiving a payment from someone on Apple Cash is one way to add money to your Apple Pay - and Apple Cash is also where you’ll find any cash back rewards from your Apple Card.

How to transfer Apple Cash to Your Bank?

💡 Got a balance in your Apple Cash account? Find out how to transfer money from Apple Cash to your bank here.

How to set up Apple Cash?

Apple Cash is automatically available on eligible Apple smart devices in the US. Take a look in your Apple Wallet to find your card.

To use your Apple Cash account, you’ll need to add a debit card to Apple Wallet, which can be used to add money to your Apple Cash card or to send a payment in Apple Messages. We’ll cover how to add a card to your Wallet in just a moment.

What is Apple Pay?

Apple Pay² is Apple’s mobile payment solution. It lets you use your Apple Card - or more or less any other eligible credit or debit card - with your Apple digital wallet, to make contactless payments in person, and spend online without needing to enter your card information every time. If you’re able to find an ATM which allows contactless payments, you may even be able to use Apple Pay at an ATM to make a withdrawal. Just tap your phone as you would a contactless card.

You can use Apple Pay abroad for mobile payments, but it’s worth bearing in mind that any international fees applied by your card will still be levied if you spend overseas with Apple Pay.

💡 Learn more about Apple Pay international fees here.

How does Apple Pay work?

Apple Pay works by using near field communication technology to process contactless payments via your Apple phone or smart device - as you would with a contactless enabled card. You simply need to add your card details to your Apple Wallet to get started. All your details are encrypted and held securely, so your payments and your data are safe when you use Apple Pay.

How to set up Apple Pay?

To use Apple Pay you’ll first need to add an eligible credit or debit card to your Apple digital wallet. Once your card is added you can use it for mobile payments - and you’ll still get any rewards that come with your card, too. Here’s how to add a card to Apple Pay³:

  • Open the Apple Wallet app
  • Tap the + button, then Debit or credit card
  • Follow the prompts to enter your card details, or scan the card with your phone
  • Complete any verification step required by your card issuer

Your card is ready to use on your phone - and if you have a paired Apple Watch, this card can be used with your watch too.

Apple Cash vs. Apple Pay: What are the differences?

Apple Cash is a digital card that lives in your Apple Wallet, which can be used to send and receive payments in Messages. You can spend any Apple Cash balance using Apple Pay for mobile payments.

Apple Pay is Apple’s mobile payments solution, which lets you add any eligible card to your Apple Wallet for mobile contactless payments.

How safe are Apple Pay & Apple Cash?

As a leading technology company, it’s no surprise that Apple uses security features in both its hardware and software, to keep Apple Pay and Apple Cash payments safe. All your personal and financial data is secured and kept in such a way that even Apple can’t access your full information. That means you can safely use Apple to make and receive convenient and fast mobile payments.

💡 Learn more about Apple Pay safety here.


Send money internationally using Wise with low and transparent fees

Apple Cash is great for sending money within the US, but when you’re making a payment overseas you need a different solution. Meet Wise.

Use Wise to send transfers to 80+ countries, in 50+ currencies, with the mid-market rate and low, transparent fees. Set up your transfer online or in the Wise app, and fund it with Apple Pay for extra convenience.

And if you’re looking for a way to get the mid-market exchange rate and no foreign transaction fees when you’re abroad, check out the Wise card. Order your Wise card for a one time fee, add it to Apple Pay, and you’re ready to spend in 170+ countries, with the mid-market rate and low fees every time.

Learn more about Wise

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing: Only Pay for What You Use for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.

Bottom line

While there are similarities between Apple Cash vs Apple Pay, they’re both fundamentally different things.

Apple Cash is a digital card you can use for mobile spending and to send money to Apple users in the US through Messages.

Apple Pay on the other hand is Apple’s mobile payments service, which can be used with an Apple Card, Apple Cash, or any other eligible credit or debit card for mobile and online payments in the US or internationally.

Both Apple Pay and Apple Cash are useful services. Which works best for you will depend on what you need to do. Don’t forget, you can also get lower costs and one of the best available exchange rates when you use Apple Pay with Wise and the Wise card for international transfers and spending.

Frequently asked questions

Which is better, Apple Pay or Cash App?

Apple Pay and Cash App are both really popular services, which let you send and receive money and make mobile payments. However, they each have some unique features, which means which one is best for you may depend on what you want to do.

Apple Pay is a great pick for Apple device users and has the Apple Card as a bonus, but Cash App is available on both Apple and Android, with a few extras like options for investments and crypto.

Compare both to see which suits you - and don’t forget, they’re not directly compatible, so you can’t link Apple Pay and Cash App without taking a couple of key steps.

💡 Learn more about moving money from Apple Pay to Cash App here.

What are the cons of Apple Pay Cash?

Apple Cash is fast and convenient to send payments - however, it can only be used by Apple device users, and it’s only available in the US. That means it’s not a solution if the person you’re sending money to prefers Android, or if you’re making an international transfer.

Is Apple Pay safer than cash?

Using Apple Pay means you don’t have to carry cash, which can make life convenient and improve safety. However, you’ll still need to take normal common sense steps like securing your phone and never sharing your passcode, to make sure your account is safe to use.

What is the difference between Apple Pay and Apple Wallet?

Apple Pay is Apple’s mobile payment service. Apple Wallet is the app on your Apple phone which holds the credit and debit cards you use with Apple Pay, as well as tickets, transit cards, reward cards and more - just like a physical wallet.

  1. Apple Cash
  2. Apple Pay
  3. Apple support - add a payment method

All sources checked on 22 December 2022

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

Money for here, there and everywhere

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location