Apple Pay is one of the most popular mobile payment platforms, with support at a wide range of retailers across the world. But it isn’t accepted everywhere (quite yet).
More than that, figuring out which stores currently accept Apple Pay at checkout can be tricky. So here’s everything you need to know about which stores don’t accept Apple Pay (and why), as well how to find out which stores do.
- 1 Where can’t you use Apple Pay?
- 2 Why some retailers don’t take Apple Pay
- 3 The tides are changing
- 4 How to find out which stores take Apple Pay
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Where can’t you use Apple Pay?
While Apple Pay is accepted by a wide range of different retailers, there are still quite a few companies that don’t support the proprietary Apple payment platform.
For the most part, these retailers fall into one of two categories: stores that simply don’t take Apple Pay yet and stores that have no plans to take Apple Pay.
No matter which category they fall in, there are a number of bigger retail chains from across the spectrum that don’t currently don’t take Apple Pay. That includes:
- Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Hobby Lobby
- Guitar Center
- Home Depot
- Sam’s Club
Some of these chains support contactless payment systems, but don’t support Apple Pay. Walmart, for example, has contactless payment platforms available for its own first-party Walmart Pay. Other retailers don’t have any sort of contactless payment infrastructure set up.
Stores that turned off Apple Pay support
Additionally, there’s actually a third category of store. Stores like JCPenney used to take Apple Pay, but for one reason or another, they’ve cut off support for the payment method.
There’s also the question of why these stores don’t take Apple Pay (or why they turned off Apple Pay support). We’ll get to that below, but the general takeaway is that you’ll need to whip out a credit card or cash at these major retail chains.
Smaller retail stores
Keep in mind that these are just major retailers that won’t take Apple Pay. There are undoubtedly plenty of smaller convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations, mom-and-pop shops, and local retailers that don’t accept any type of mobile payment platform.
For the most part, those retailers probably don’t have the resources to implement NFC-based point-of-sale systems. While Apple Pay is gaining ground among the big guys, there’s a good chance that your local corner bodega isn’t going to take Apple Pay for the foreseeable future.
Why some retailers don’t take Apple Pay
One may imagine that the slow rollout of Apple Pay is Apple’s own fault. But in most cases, retailers are actually the primary reason why Apple Pay isn’t accepted everywhere.
For example, many retail chains kickstarted a consortium of companies called the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). The goal of that coalition was to develop ways for customers to pay for goods with their devices — and to keep technology firms like Google and Apple out of the equation.
There are a couple of reasons for that, as Recode pointed out in 2014 piece on the matter. First-party payment methods allow retailers to keep customer data away from tech firms and send coupons directly to customers, for example.
But the primary reason is that developing first-party payment methods is simply cheaper for retail companies.
Lack of infrastructure
As mentioned earlier, there are also stores that used to accept Apple Pay but don’t anymore. That’s another situation entirely. And, at least in some cases, it has little to do with retailers attempting to develop their own first-party payment platforms.
JCPenney, for example, told TechCrunch in a statement that it disabled all contactless payment systems ahead of an April 13, 2019 deadline.
That deadline required that U.S. merchants that accept contactless payments to also support EMV contactless chip capabilities. JCPenney didn’t have the infrastructure for that, so it took a “scorched earth” approach and disabled contactless payments across its stores entirely.
There may also be another somewhat more insidious reason why some retailers are less open to using third-party mobile payment systems — and Apple Pay in particular.
Apple Pay is an extremely secure platform; it features a number of mechanisms that allow it to be so impenetrable. One of those mechanisms is known as a Device Account Number (DAN).
Without going into the weeds too much, a DAN essentially allows users to make a payment without revealing the actual card number they used.
Apple Pay on your Apple Watch is going to have a different DAN than the same card on your iPhone. That makes it a lot harder for retailers to track their customers’ purchases and create a profile from that data.
The tides are changing
Despite all of the reasons that major retailers have to keep Apple Pay out of their stores, the tide does finally seem to be changing.
CVS Pharmacy, for example, began supporting Apple Pay at locations across the U.S. back in October 2018. Costco, another notable holdout, started accepting the Apple payment platform in August. And perhaps most notably, Target started to accept Apple Pay and other third-party contactless payment methods earlier this year. That leaves Walmart as one of the few remaining major retailers in the U.S. as a holdout.
Consumer demand, of course, is one reason why retailers are wavering. Apple Pay is convenient, and more and more consumers want to be able to use it at the stores that they frequent.
But one of the primary reasons why members of the MCX have started to come around is that the payment platform that they were developing, CurrenctC, was an absolute failure. While it was originally created as an Apple Pay killer, CurrentC never really made it off that ground. That’s due to several reasons, including the fact that it seems to prioritize retailers over consumers — and it didn’t really adapt to consumer habits.
Though it’s too early to tell, looking at the current industry, it’s likely that tech-based payment platforms like Apple Pay will continue to gain ground as retailer-based ones, like Walmart Pay, will fizzle out.
What’s the future of Apple Pay?
Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that Apple Pay’s mainstream acceptance in the U.S. hasn’t happened overnight — and it isn’t likely to make major leaps.
For one, contactless point-of-sale systems like Apple Pay are relatively scarce in the U.S. At least, when compared to other countries. Back in 2014, for example, only two percent of retailers actually had the infrastructure to support Apple Pay in the U.S. As of January, around 65 percent of retailers now accept Apple Pay.
Speaking of other countries, Apple Pay is also quickly gaining ground when it comes to international acceptance. Just this year, Apple Pay is expected to launch in Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia and Romania. Just a few days ago, the payment platform officially debuted in Austria.
How to find out which stores take Apple Pay
At this point, we’ve purely been covering broad Apple Pay trends across the industry. But the most important thing to consumers is finding out which stores around them accept Apple Pay.
Luckily, there are a couple of methods.
Apple, for its part, has an entire webpage dedicated to its mobile payment platform. That page has an up-to-date list of major retailers that accept Apple Pay.
There are also other sites around the internet that routinely update their own lists of Apple Pay-supporting chains and stores. They’re definitely worth a browse if you want the most current information.
You can also use Apple Maps to see which stores around your specific location support Apple Pay.
- Open the Apple Maps app.
- Search for the retail chain or store in question.
- Tap on the relevant location.
- Scroll down to see information related to that store.
- Underneath the Useful to Know heading, you should see a checkmark and Accepts Apple Pay if the store supports the payment platform.
Apple is rolling Apple Pay in more and more countries. It is definitely here to stay as Apple shifts its focus on re-energizing its services to provide value for its users and shareholders. Recently Apple rolled out further NFC support in the upcoming iOS 13. Apple’s update to its Core NFC framework for iOS 13 will include support for reading passports and ID documents, chip checker app maker Innovalor has confirmed to NFC World.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.