Apple Pay is the largest mobile payments service outside of China, so one would assume America’s most popular store would accept it. But that isn’t the case. Walmart famously hasn’t adopted Apple Pay. In fact, the retailer doesn’t process any NFC transactions, so contactless payments with a credit card are out of the question too. That is of course unless you’re using its own QR-based Walmart Pay service.
Does Walmart Take Apple Pay?
Walmart does not take Apple Pay in-store or online. That’s because it has its own mobile wallet, called Walmart Pay, that it would rather customers use. This accepts all major credit and debit cards, from issues like American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. It can also be used with the PayPal Cash Card and Walmart Gift Cards, making it easier than ever to use virtual cash in a store.
However, there is a trick to use Apple Pay in Walmart: You can actually use Apple Pay to process the payment in store. You won’t be holding your device over a card reader though. Instead, you’ll be using a cashback service called Ibotta, which lets you pay for items in the application on your smartphone (at participating retailers) to earn rewards on every qualifying purchase.
This isn’t as quick and easy as double-clicking the Power button on the right-hand side of your device. You’ll first need to open Ibotta, select Walmart from the retailer list followed by Pay with Ibotta, enter the checkout amount, then choose Apple Pay as the payment method. You’ll then need to confirm the purchase. A barcode will then be shown, which needs to be scanned or shown to the cashier to complete the purchase.
You’ll receive 1% in instant cashback rewards for using Ibotta in Walmart, in addition to whatever rewards are included with the payment method you used to complete the purchase with Apple Pay. Pair this with an Apple Card, for example, which offers up to 3% in unlimited Daily Cash on every purchase and you could see as much as 4% of the cart value credited back, because you can still earn cashback with Apple Pay.
Interestingly, there are exclusive offers available in Ibotta that can see you earn as much as 30% in cashback. You’ll need to opt into these individually prior to clicking Pay with Ibotta, otherwise you’ll earn the base 1% cashback rate available through the service, which can be used at a host of other brick-and-mortar stores as well, including Best Buy, Sam’s Club and The Home Depot, and online retailers like Hotels.com.
Just like it can be used as a workaround for Apple Pay in Walmart, it can do the same at other participating retailers who don’t accept Apple’s mobile payment.
Why Doesn’t Walmart Take Apple Pay?
The theory is that by forcing customers to install the Walmart application to use Walmart Pay, the retailer can continuously feed them offers to keep them invested and tempt them back into the store (or to shop online), transforming an active customer into a loyal customer.
It’s basically free advertising. People install Walmart onto their device, and then the brand can send push notifications, and blaster discounts and notices all over the application when people load their virtual card. It has its benefits for users too: All of your receipts when you shop through Walmart Pay are stored digitally in the application, making returns easier than ever — no need to keep reels of paper.
Keeping this data on hand has other advantages too — for Walmart, and you. Because all of your purchases are logged in the Walmart application, regardless of whether you make the online or in-store, you can look back and see exactly how much you spent and on what, creating more accurate budgets. This also allows Walmart to feed you targeted offers based on your previous purchases, so you can save on essentials.
This doesn’t just apply to the main store, either. You can’t use Apple Pay at any Walmart concessions, like the Walmart Pharmacy or the Walmart Vision Center. Walmart Pay on the other hand is accepted at all of these locations. You also can’t use Apple Pay at the Walmart Fuel Station. Walmart Pay is accepted for fuel, but exclusive fuel discounts available to Walmart+ members will need to be redeemed first.
Walmart Pay is completely free to use at all Walmart stores. There are no hidden transaction fees and a Walmart Plus membership is not required. You’ll will continue to earn rewards that your card issuer offers as well, so if you’re a Bank of America customer earning 2% in cashback rewards as grocery stores and wholesale clubs, you’ll continue to see these credited to your account while using Walmart Pay.
The retailer also doesn’t accept rival services Google Pay and Samsung Pay. Sam’s Club, which is owned by Walmart, doesn’t accept them either. You can’t use Walmart Pay in Sam’s Club, however, but it does have its own mobile payments solution, available in its app. These work in much the same way: You store some credit card information, then scan a barcode at the register to pay for the items you’ve scanned.
Will Walmart Accept Apple Pay?
For as long as Walmart Pay is around, it’s safe to say Apple Pay won’t be accepted in Walmart. The retailer has made a conscious effort to block other mobile payment services from being used in its stores. Just look at what happened with Samsung Pay, a rival service that could be used with both Near Field Communication (NFC) and Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) when it first launched.
The fact Samsung Pay worked with MST terminals meant that it could be used in Walmart, because it mimicked a card swipe. While Apple Pay couldn’t be used in Walmart, Samsung Pay customers could use their devices to pay for their groceries from their handset for years. But in 2020 they started to see an error message appear on the terminal informing them the payment method was not allowed.
It’s also telling that Walmart hasn’t rolled out credit card readers that offer NFC, so physical contactless credit cards can’t be used in its store either. The only way to pay without popping your card into a terminal is through Walmart Pay or authorised cashback service like Ibotta (more on that in a little bit), and that’s intentional: It wants to collect data on its customers and have a way to reach them directly.
Walmart made this clear in a statement provided to MacRumors back in 2018, when spoke person Erin Hulliberger said: “Walmart Pay is the exclusive form of mobile payment accepted at Walmart and we have no plans for that to change”. Two years later, it blocked Samsung Pay in its stores, and four years later Walmart Pay still remains the only real, convenient way to pay in Walmart stores using a mobile device.
How to Use Walmart Pay
Walmart Pay lives in the Walmart application on Android and iOS, and serves as an instant means of checking out by scanning a QR Code displayed at the register using the scanner in the app on your phone. This requires you to store a payment method in the application, which can be a credit or debit card, or a Walmart Gift Card. You can choose which one is used at checkout if you have more than one stored.
You’ll need to use any Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) balances from schemes like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) before using Walmart Pay. Coupons will also need to be redeemed prior to using Walmart Pay as well. This can be done by swiping or scanning the card or voucher, depending on what’s required. You’ll then be able to proceed with paying with Walmart Pay.
The terminal won’t print a paper receipt when you pay with Walmart Pay. These are available digitally in the Walmart application. You’ll receive a notification on your device when the electronic receipt is ready. This is usually processed within five minutes of completing the transaction, but can take a little longer. You can access these from any device signed in to your Walmart account, like laptops and tablets.
Refunds for items purchased through Walmart Pay are issued to the card used to process the transaction in the service, so if you paid with American Express card in Walmart Pay, that’s where the money will return to. You don’t need to print off the receipt prior to returning an item either. Because there are stored digitally and are linked to your Walmart account, they can be accessed on the system in the store.
How to Use Walmart Pay at a Cashier
You can use Walmart Pay at a cashier. Just let them know that’s how you want to pay, after any coupons have been redeemed, then open Walmart on your handset, and head into the Walmart Pay section and select your preferred payment method. You’ll then need to scan the QR code that appears on the card reader to complete the transaction. The cashier will confirm when it’s done, and then you can be on your way.
How to Use Walmart Pay at a Terminal
Once you’ve finished scanning your items and have redeemed any benefit contributions or digital coupons, jump over to your phone and select Walmart Pay, then use your device to scan the QR code on the register. You’ll hear a chime, indicating the transaction is complete. You receive a notification with the digital receipt when it’s ready. You don’t need to wait for this come through before leaving.
Apple Pay at Walmart FAQ
Does Walmart Take the Apple Card?
Just because Walmart doesn’t accept Apple Pay, doesn’t mean it doesn’t accept the Apple Card, the tech titan’s credit card offering. All it means is you won’t be able to use it in Apple Pay, but it’ll still support chip-and-pin purchases with the physical card in the store. You’ll still be eligible for any cashback rewards you’d earn and can also use cashback features in select locations as well; there are no limitations on the card.
Can You Add the Walmart Credit Card to Apple Pay?
Interestingly, you can add the Walmart Credit Card to Apple Pay. You still won’t be able to use Apple Pay in Walmart after doing so, but the card does come with an attractive 5% cashback when it’s used with Walmart Pay in Walmart locations in the first 12 months of ownership. Still, you’ll be able to use the Walmart Rewards Credit Card to shop at other retailers, including rival Aldi which does accept Apple Pay.