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Does CVS Take Apple Pay? (In Detail)

CVS is one of the largest chain stores in the US, and Apple Pay is one of the safest and most convenient payment methods available these days. But for a long time, companies like CVS and Rite Aid blocked Apple Pay to promote a different payment method. But does CVS take Apple Pay now? Since contactless payment is becoming more popular due to hygiene concerns.

The good news is that CVS does take Apple Pay payments now. It is accepted in more than nine thousand of their branches. However, the bad news is that it only applies to in-store transactions. So you would likely need to use Venmo or PayPal for online purchases.

CVS is not your average drugstore retailer since it offers many other services. They also have a variety of outlet types, such as self-checkouts, online, etc. There are also gift cards and other offers on the table. Apply Pay might not apply to some of those services. This article will cover all those topics and provide you with a clear breakdown of the situation.

When Did CVS Start Taking Apple Pay?

CVS started accepting Apple Pay for all their branches across the nation in 2018. It happened a few months after Tim Cook hinted at the possible rollout.

Apple Pay managed to attain widespread acceptance despite the weariness from many prominent businesses. The global economic shift pushed the online retail market at least a couple of decades ahead in development in recent years. That's the primary catalyst behind Apple Pay making such a breakthrough.

The total list of retail and service sectors that accept Apple Pay increases every month. Walmart is the only prominent name in the retail industry that doesn't accept Apple Pay yet. But that's primarily due to them having their own branded NFC-enabled wallet option.

In some cases, you may think of Walmart as the most prominent contender to Apple Pay. But with how famous Apple's branding is and its opulent user base, it won't take long for Apple Pay to leave most competitors in the dust. Gaining approval from large retailers like CVS and 7-Eleven also helps it look increasingly more appealing to its users.

How To Use Apple Pay At CVS

Apple Pay has many exchangeable outlets, but its user base is not that large yet. Only around one-fifth of iPhone users use it. So, it is difficult for new users to use the service of Apple Pay in CVS.

Before getting into the procedure of using it in CVs, you must make sure that the service is turned on. Yes, Apple Pay is not active by default on iPhones. You need to subscribe to the service manually and complete a sign-up process.

You can only start enjoying the service after linking your bank account with Apple Pay. At the CVS outlet, take your phone to the NFC reader at the checkout. That will allow you to select Apple Pay as the payment option.

You can authorize the transaction through two different authentication methods. The first one is FaceID, and it is generally more popular these days. The other one is TouchID, which kind of beats the point of having a contactless payment system.

Benefits Of using Apple Pay At CVS

There are naturally many benefits to using Apple Pay over at CVS. Here are some reasons you might consider it instead of other NFC payment options.

1. Security

NFC payment methods are generally more secure than traditional cards and other options. There's almost no risk of identity theft.

But all NFC-enabled payment options do not offer the same level of software security. Apple Pay is ahead of its competition in that regard. It doesn't even use your card number while making the payment, so your bank account stays anonymous for the most part.

2. Flexibility

Apple Pay is very flexible about what you can and can't do with it. Many of its features improve the user experience, but the one that stands out is how many devices you can use to complete the transaction.

Apple Pay is not limited to iPhones. You can also use your Apple Watch to make payments. Apple Pay also offers a shorter check-in system. It's much easier than scanning QR codes. So it will shorten the queue time if more people use it.

3. Offline Support

Arguably one of the most helpful functions of Apple Pay is its seamless offline support. Many other NFC services allow offline transactions, but the process is usually very clunky.

Apple Pay makes the process much smoother. And you can even do it with your iPhone in airplane mode. 

4. Supported Platforms

One of the most significant benefits of choosing Apple Pay over other NFC payment methods is the number of platforms you can access. Other NFC payment methods do not have as comprehensive coverage as Apple Pay.

As you can see, both CVS, 7-Eleven, and other major retailers accept it as a valid payment option. You can also use it in the service industry and refill stations. And it's not limited to just the US.

Does CVS Support Online Payment From Apple Pay?

Unfortunately, the Apple Pay payment option is limited to in-store purchases only. CVS still does not allow online purchases using Apple Pay. It's a significant downside for many people since online shopping is all the rage nowadays.

So no, you can not use it online to buy non-prescription drugs from CVS. But it doesn't have much to do with consumer safety or any fuel with Apple. They don't allow it, primarily due to the mess with CurrentC. So, expect things to change within the next couple of years.

You can use regular credit cards, PayPal, and gift cards for online purchases at CVS. There is, however, a workaround for that issue, which I'll explain in a bit.

CVS Gift Cards And Apple Pay

The workaround to the no online support issue is gift cards. As you may already know, CVS accepts gift cards online. There are many types of gift cards; some even come with discounts. You can purchase these with Apple Pay and then use them to buy stuff online.

CVS is well-known for the variety of gift cards it offers. You could get Kohl's, Macy's, TJ Maxx, Lord & Taylor, etc. Not to mention the pharmacy gift card from CVS, which lets you make non-prescription purchases. You can get all of them with Apple Pay. Which also indirectly gives Apple Pay more purchasing power.

Does Apple Pay Give Cash-Backs On CVS Purchases?

Yes, CVS gives cashback with Apple Pay purchases, but that only applies if it is linked to a Debit card. Using the Discover debit card will get you some extra benefits too.

There's also a maximum limit to how much cash back you can get. Using Apple Pay won't increase the amount. You can generally get $35 at most on a single purchase.

The extra benefit I mentioned only applies to the Discover card. CVS gives you 1% cashback on any purchase using a Discover card with Apple Pay. The upper cashback limit through Discover Debit Card is set at $3000 per month. So you won't get any cashback if you end up crossing that limit.

What Other Payment Methods Work At CVS?

CVS takes cash, debit cards, credit cards, PayPal, and Apple Pay. So you could theoretically use any of them.

Users can use both master cards and American Express without restrictions. You can also use them to order non-prescription drugs online. It's the same for credit cards, but you'll miss out on the cash back by choosing that.

PayPal is a neutral option, but it is much more clunky for in-store transactions. You also need a registered account to use that. So, choosing that over Apple Pay makes very little sense.

CVS also started expanding its support for contactless payment methods recently. As of now, you can use Google Pay and Samsung Pay as alternative NFC payment options. Also, let us not forget Venmo, even though scanning QR codes is iffy nowadays.

Why Didn't CVS Support Apple Pay Before?

CVS did not support Apple Pay until 2018. That had a lot to do with CurrentC and Merchant Customer Exchange. Merchant Customer Exchange was a consortium that strongly opposed the wallet app from Apple.

CVS initially introduced their wallet app, as did Rite Aid. But none of them worked out in the end. CurrentC eventually collapsed for various reasons, and CVS used CVS Pay to try and patch that hole.

But the problem with most of these branded wallet apps was the security. There were multiple cases of hacking, and the services were too scattered. Apple Pay was the only one that managed to expand its reach far enough to have a worldwide appeal.

After that, most of the retail-branded wallet apps went off the market. And everyone gradually accepted Apple Pay and a few other more prominent wallet apps.

Let's go over the key information one last time. Does CVS take Apple pay? Yes, CVS accepts Apple Pay payments. It also gives a decent amount of cash back, but only if your wallet has a Debit card. You can use it to buy gift cards and other services.

But all of that is limited to in-store transactions. CVS does not accept Apple Pay for online transactions yet, but that could change in the next few years.

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Author Ferdi
Written by Ferdi Vol
Ferdi Vol has been working for a grocery store for the last few years and he knows all the ins and outs of running a grocery store. He's also got great tips about what you need to know as a customer, from getting the most out of your money to knowing where everything is in the store! Ferdi loves sharing his passion with others via his blog on how to have an awesome shopping experience at your local grocery store.
About Ferdi Vol
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