What with one thing and another over the last few years (the plague, we’re looking at you) contactless payments have become the norm for pretty much everyone – and cash is most definitely out.

But while paying with your contactless card is far handier than counting out notes and coins, we all know that our mobile phone is the only thing we’ll never leave the house without – and paying with our phones is easier still.

And that’s where Google Pay comes in.

Maybe you’ve already heard of it. Maybe you already use it. And maybe, just maybe, there’s even more to it than you think. So, let’s break it down, shall we?

What is Google Pay?

Well according to Google, it’s a better way to pay – and we’re inclined to agree.

But it’s more than a contactless payment app, it’s also a way to pay online. All you have to do is add your cards to your Google Account, and you’re covered everywhere you go (even if you never leave the sofa.)

Even better, Google Pay keeps everything protected thanks to Google Wallet, which is a whole other thing that deserves a blog of its own, but simply put also lets you store loyalty cards, concert tickets and even your car keys as well as your payment cards.

We should point out, though – you can only use Google Pay on devices that have NFC capabilities, as this is the tech that the app uses to make contactless payments. You can still use it to pay online without NFC, but not in person.

How do I get Google Pay?

It’s a no-brainer. Just download Google Wallet from your app store (it’s available on Android and iOS) and get started with your Google Account. You can add your payment cards and get set up in just a few minutes.

Yes, it’s a bit confusing that Google Pay isn’t called Google Pay – but it’s a part of Google Wallet, and that’s all you need to know to start making payments.

How do I pay with Google Pay when I’m out and about?

Ah, the simplicity of it – you just hold your unlocked phone up to the contactless payment device in, say, the supermarket. Your phone will make a little ping sound, and a pic of your card will pop up on the screen with a tick symbol to confirm the payment has been accepted, and there you go – sorted.

There’s no need to use the pin pad in-store, and you don’t even need to have an internet connection on your device for it to work. Plus, it’s accepted literally everywhere that accepts contactless (which is just about everywhere these days, right?)

There’s no limit on the value of the payment, and of course, the Google Wallet app is completely free.

How do I pay with Google Pay online?

You can use Google Pay to make payments online via a browser, or oftentimes within shopping apps themselves – just look for the Google Pay option at the checkout.

If you see the Google Pay symbol, you can pay that way – just tap or click it, and if you’ve got multiple cards in your Google Wallet, the site will ask you which one you want to use to make the payment. Take your pick, confirm your address, confirm your order and you’re done.

How secure is Google Pay?

Very. And when you think about it, you probably already trust Google to help you manage your emails, your passwords and all kinds of other stuff (especially if you’re a Chrome user), so they’re a name you can trust!

But to be more specific, yes, Google Pay is incredibly secure. Why? Well, because instead of sending a merchant your card details when you make a contactless (or online) payment, it sends a virtual account number instead. So, your info stays secure and between you and good ol’ Google.

You can also add extra security if you want the extra peace of mind, by adding a personal PIN, fingerprint or pattern to your Google Pay that you’ll need to unlock before using.

And in case you were wondering, any payment methods you add to Google Pay are securely stored on your Google Account, on Google’s private servers, where your data is encrypted and never sold to third parties.

What if I want to manage my cards and info on Google Pay?

Not a problem. Using the Google Wallet app (which you’ll need to use Google Pay, remember?) you can add and remove payment methods, as and when you like (as well as loyalty cards and more.)

There’s also a handy section about tips on how to use Google Wallet in the app, which explains some of the other things you can do like add gift cards and transport passes.

Can I view my transaction history in Google Pay?

Of course. Just open the app and tap on the card you want to view the activity on. You’ll immediately see up to three of your latest transactions (both in-person and online), including the amount spent and the date the payment was made.

Tap ‘View more activity’ and you can scroll your way back even further through your transaction history. Tapping on an individual transaction will show you more info, and if you enable personalisation, you’ll even be able to see the location where the payment was made.