Google Wallet lets you leave your credit cards or cash in your pocket and pay with your phone. Making tap-to-pay work, however, requires turning on Near Field Communication (NFC), which enables your phone to talk to the payment terminal.
To ensure that you don’t get a blank stare from the clerk because your phone payment isn’t working, follow these steps to ensure that you’ll find mobile payment success.
You’ll need to head to Settings > NFC. Then, make sure you turn NFC on. The exact path will look slightly different depending upon your device, but all the same options should be there.
Most modern devices put an icon up in the status bar indicating that NFC is on. It doesn't really drain the battery on most modern phones, but if you're worried about your security or have an older phone where NFC might cause shorter battery life, you may want to turn it off.
Then, select Tap and pay. This option lets you select your preferred payment app. Since Google Wallet swallowed up Softcard and Samsung bought Loop Pay, Google Wallet is the only game in town until Samsung Pay rolls out.
You should jump back into Google Wallet, where you’ll see a “tap and pay is ready” notification. If you’ve never checked it out, you’ll need to sign in to Google Wallet and create a PIN in order to start paying for items.
NFC works on any device running Android 4.0.3 or above. If you’re running into problems with Google Wallet, you can check this support page, which also includes a link for calling Google for assistance.