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I like to use Apple Pay when it's available, for security reasons as well as convenience. I'm a US citizen, with one US credit card (Visa) tied to it. It's the card I'd use for normal payment abroad (as it's one with no foreign transaction fees).

I plan to travel to London and Edinburgh next month. Will Apple Pay work as normal in the UK (where it's accepted) without me having to do anything (other than letting my card know I'll be abroad, as I would normally with a physical credit card)? Will it work on the Underground like a normal UK account would? If not, what must I do to get it to work?

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    Apple Pay instructions for the tube: tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/contactless/… – A E Sep 3 '15 at 17:27
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    You mean the actual hardware of the iPhone itself? I think that's the same from one country to another, except for the mains-plug-bit on the charger. – A E Sep 3 '15 at 21:15
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    Well, that too (and it's actually not exactly the same - different countries have different wireless RF antennas, and I think they vary some as to which the iPhone supports, particularly in the US), but I mean the Apple Pay system. I don't know if it's segmented by region/country. It's a new enough system after all - could the CC issuers have only permitted local usage to reduce fraud? Or the (even newer) UK implementation might be limited in some fashion. I have no idea, hence the question! I just don't want to get to the Tube and find my phone can't get me aboard... – Joe Sep 3 '15 at 21:38
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    One thing to note - your credit card may charge you for foreign transactions. Depending on your card and how often you travel, it may be cheaper to by an Oyster Card for travel on the underground. – Terence Eden Sep 4 '15 at 11:06
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    In my case I won't get charged (no foreign transaction fee), but thanks for the thought. – Joe Sep 4 '15 at 14:04
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Yes Apple Pay will (technically) work practically anywhere in the world where you see the Visa payWave or MasterCard PayPass symbols, including on the London Underground.

However, there are a couple of things that you may want to consider before using Apple Pay abroad.

Firstly, as you have mentioned, informing your credit card company of your travel plans. This will ensure that your card does not get flagged or suspended for potential fraudulent activities when used overseas.

Secondly, as pointed out by Terence Eden in the comments above, double check with your credit card provider about fees and exchange rate premiums for foreign transactions. These vary widely by card issuer and in some cases can be exorbitant. As an example, one of my UK credit cards charges 5% exchange rate premium, plus a 2.9% foreign transaction fee. Your card company may market "fee free", but that may be masking a higher exchange premium.

I live in Hong Kong and have used Apple Pay with US and UK cards in over a dozen countries with no issues, including using a US card on London trains and buses before Apple Pay was officially released in the UK.

Although the limit per Apple Pay transaction in UK is currently £20 - you will be subject to the Sterling equivalent of whatever limit you have back home. With some merchants, you may also experience a slightly longer period to authorise your transaction.

2018 update

Although Apple Pay was limited in the past at £20 then £30, there is now no limit on an Apple Pay transaction. There is a £30 limit on contactless card payments though.

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    Small footnote: contactless limits went up to £30 just this week, & I believe this means the Apple limit will probably rise as well. Not that it should make much difference for an Oyster-type transaction... – Andrew Sep 5 '15 at 8:50
  • I have actually no clue what the limit is back home. I've used it at Whole Foods for ~$60, which is well over that limit (that's about £40). Thanks for the complete answer! – Joe Sep 5 '15 at 15:58
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I tried last month to use multiple ApplePay cards,including a Bank of America Visa, a personal platinum AMEX and a business gold AMEX for the tube. No luck on all fronts.

  • The last time I checked, the Tube did not accept contactless cards from the US (including Apple Pay) to touch in and out, though it should still work to top up an Oyster card. – Michael Hampton Nov 17 '15 at 9:57
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    @MichaelHampton I don't think that's right. Friends of mine have been able to touch in and out using their US cards. – Calchas Nov 17 '15 at 10:35
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    Amex ExpressPay uses a slightly different system, including for Apple Pay. There are some compatibility problems even if the retailer accepts Amex and Contactless. – Calchas Nov 17 '15 at 14:01
  • You'll find AMEX usage low in Europe due to the high fees they charge merchants. Even the TV adverts push the "use in other countries" aspect. – The Wandering Dev Manager Nov 17 '15 at 18:49
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I have had success using Apple Pay with a US issued credit card on the London underground. The key is to use a MasterCard. While some Visa cards issued in the US MIGHT work, most MasterCards issued in the US will work.

Make sure you open your wallet app and scan your fingerprint before you get to the gate so you don't slow people down behind you.

For all other contactless payments around London both my US issued Visa and Mastercard worked with Apple Pay.

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