Avoid Embarrassment: How to Use Apple Pay at Restaurants ’23

Written By Branson Knowles

Whether a restaurant accepts Apple Pay or not varies, so it is best to call beforehand to find out. Casual fast-food restaurants are more likely to accept Apple Pay than diners or high-class restaurants, as waiters process payments on their own.

So, going into more detail, how can you use Apple Pay at a restaurant?

While many stores may offer different forms of contactless payment — Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay — restaurants may not offer the same capability. In America especially, it’s custom for your server to bring you your bill at the end of a meal and ask for a card or cash to pay.

They then take your form of payment back to their point-of-sale system, where they process the payment themselves. Apple Pay is attached to your phone, and I don’t know too many people who would give their phone to a stranger in order to make a payment!

If a restaurant asks their customers to come to a cashier to pay, it is much more likely they will accept Apple Pay. Again, it’s always best to call before you go and ask if you want to make sure.

More casual restaurants are more likely to accept Apple Pay. Starbucks, Chick-fil-a, and In-N-Out and accept Apple Pay inside their buildings. Using Apple Pay through a drive-thru is a little less common, but some restaurants will give their employees contactless card readers to facilitate these transactions. 

me driving to cane's

Which Restaurants Accept Apple Pay?

Like I mentioned previously in this article, not every restaurant accepts Apple Pay. Casual fast-food restaurants like Starbucks and Chick-fil-a take Apple Pay as you can pay at a counter just like you would at a store.

cold stone casual restaraunt

Diners or even higher-class restaurants may not. They will usually come to your table, present you with a bill, and ask for a form of payment that they can take back and process. Most people either give cash or use a debit or credit card. 

To use Apple Pay, you need to use your iPhone or other Apple device. You can’t exactly give a waiter your Apple Watch and expect them to pay with it, can you? Apple Pay may not be viable in these types of restaurants for this reason: waiters process payments on their own. 

restaurant brewhouse

If the restaurant you’re going to has a cashier and asks you to pay upfront, you’re more likely to be able to use Apple Pay. Fancier restaurants are less likely to have this capability and may ask for you to pay through the traditional methods. 

Some restaurants will even let you use Apple Pay to complete your transaction through their app.

I actually use the Starbucks app a lot, and whenever I’m running out of funds to use their I reload my Starbucks app with my Apple Pay account.

reloading my starbucks app with apple pay

Why is My Apple Pay Being Declined at a Restaurant?

Apple Pay is a great way to make your payments contactlessly, but it isn’t perfect. If you’re at a restaurant trying to pay and your Apple Pay is being declined, it may be due to a couple of different reasons:

Insufficient Balance

If you linked one of your debit or credit cards to your Apple Pay account and tried to use them to make a purchase, but it was declined, you may have an insufficient balance in your account.

Apple Pay can’t be overdrafted, so if you want to use it for one of your transactions, you must have the funds to cover it.

Physical Card is Locked

Apple Pay connects one of your physical debit or credit cards to its system and uses it to complete your transactions.

If there’s anything wrong with your card, like if it’s been reported lost, stolen, or just locked altogether, you won’t be able to use it through Apple Pay.

You wouldn’t be able to use the physical card either, for that matter. 

Exceeded Limits

Almost every debit card comes with spending limits.

Apple Pay can’t get around your debit card’s limits if it has one, so if you went past what you’re allowed to spend, your Apple Pay transactions will be declined.

Card Cannot Be Used

This one is a little more rare, but the message may pop up when your Apple Pay transaction has been declined. You may see this message when the card you are trying to use through Apple Pay gets declined.

If you do happen to see this message, you may need to use cash or another card to complete your transaction.

Card is Expired

When your debit card passes its expiration date, it can no longer be used on Apple Pay.

Your bank will usually send you a new debit card before this happens, but if they don’t or if you forgot to add it to Apple Pay you’ll need to if you want to keep using the same account through the contactless platform.

Can I Tip Using Apple Pay?

Yes, almost all terminals set up with Apple Pay capabilities in America also give you the option to tip your server as well. Most of these terminals come with per-set tip amounts decided by the restaurant using them.

The predetermined tip amounts can vary, so pay attention before you click them. I’ve seen them range from 15% – 25% to 30% – 50%! That’ll turn your already $6 coffee into a $9 beverage.

If you don’t want to tip one of the pre-selected amounts, you can usually click on another screen where you can enter a custom tip. Apple Pay will lump your tip in with your bill and show it all as one transaction in your transaction history. 

What is the Difference Between Using Apple Pay in the US and abroad?

Americans aren’t the only ones who get to reap the benefits of Apple Pay. People in Europe, Asia, and Africa can use Apple Pay as well.

Europeans use Apple Pay a little differently than Americans. While Americans get a second screen while they’re paying with Apple Pay, asking them if they’d like to tip, Europeans may ask the cashier to increase the total they are being charged to include the tip they’d like to give.

Apple Pay works the same for users, regardless of where they are or their IP address. All you have to do is link a debit or credit card to the platform and start using it for contactless payments. 

How Do I Know if a Restaurant Accepts Apple Pay?

Most restaurants may not advertise their ability to accept Apple Pay like they would one of their meal specials. If you want to find out if a restaurant accepts Apple Pay, the best way to go about it would be to give them a call.

Almost all restaurants still have a landline or some kind of phone in their building. Look them up online, find their phone number, and give them a call. 

wing stop restaraunt front

More Useful Articles About Paying with Apple Pay

About the Author

Lead Researcher, Digital Banking in the U.S. at TopMobileBanks

Branson Knowles is a former banker and current writer at TopMobileBanks.com.

During his years banking, he helped his clients discover their financial freedom through smart savings and spending goals. He started as a teller before becoming a banker and obtaining his federal licenses, furthering his clients' on their financial journeys.

After becoming one of the top producing bankers in the state, Branson decided it was time to pursue his own financial freedom. He started writing freelance finance articles before joining TopMobileBanks.com, breaking down banking like only an ex-banker could.

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