Which is safer Apple Pay or PayPal?

Apple Pay and PayPal are two of the most popular digital payment services, providing convenient ways to make purchases and transfer money. But which one offers better security for your personal information and money? This article examines the encryption methods and fraud protection used by Apple Pay and PayPal to help you determine which service is safer for your needs.

Which is safer Apple Pay or PayPal?

How Apple Pay Works

Apple Pay allows iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch users to make contactless payments in stores, as well as purchases within apps and on compatible websites. It uses near field communication (NFC) technology to communicate payment information digitally when held near a compatible point-of-sale terminal.

Here’s an overview of Apple Pay’s security:

  • Tokenization – Your actual debit/credit card number is never shared with the merchant. Apple Pay uses device-specific Device Account Numbers that represent your card information. This means your real card number stays protected.
  • Encryption – All transactions are encrypted end-to-end using 128-bit AES encryption on Secure Element, Apple’s specially designed chip. This is the same level of encryption banks use to protect PINs and makes it extremely difficult for fraudsters to intercept your payment info.
  • Dynamic security code – Each transaction generates a one-time dynamic security code so the cashier only sees this code, not your actual card information. This prevents thieves from reusing your card number in fraudulent transactions.
  • Fingerprint authentication – Apple Pay leverages Touch ID or Face ID biometric authentication to verify it’s really you before paying. This safeguard prevents thieves from using your lost or stolen iPhone to make unauthorized transactions.

How PayPal Works

PayPal allows you to pay for online purchases using bank accounts, debit cards, credit cards or PayPal cash balance. You enter your financial information into your PayPal account, then use your email address and password to log in and pay for stuff through a seller’s PayPal payment page.

Here are PayPal’s key security features:

  • Encryption – PayPal uses bank-grade encryption measures including TLS and 256-bit encryption to protect all transmission of personal data. This prevents intercepted transactions from being read.
  • 2-factor authentication – PayPal offers optional 2-step verification requiring you enter a temporary one-time password from your phone when you log in. This extra layer of protection prevents unauthorized access.
  • Buyer protection – PayPal will reimburse you for the full purchase amount plus original shipping costs if you don’t receive the item or it shows up significantly different than described. This covers you from any shady sellers.
  • Monitored transactions – PayPal uses AI and risk models to detect suspicious activity patterns. If they suspect a transaction isn’t authorized, they may halt payments until further verification. This prevents thieves from going on buying sprees using your account.

Apple Pay vs. PayPal Security Comparison

Security Feature Apple Pay PayPal
Encryption Standards Uses 128-bit AES encryption Uses TLS and 256-bit encryption
Tokenization Yes No
Dynamic Codes Uses device-specific dynamic security codes No
Biometric Authentication Requires Touch ID/Face ID Optional 2-factor authentication
Buyer Protection Varies by bank/credit card Yes, up to $20,000

Both Apple Pay and PayPal utilize bank-grade encryption to protect transactions and personal data. However, Apple Pay offers the advantage of tokenization, which means merchants never actually receive your real credit card number.

Apple Pay also requires biometric authentication via Touch ID or Face ID to complete purchases—adding an extra layer of protection beyond a simple password. Plus, the dynamic security codes change with every transaction, preventing fraud if your card gets compromised.

PayPal still offers decent security protections like encryption, 2-factor authentication, and buyer protection policies to limit your liability in case things go wrong. However, Apple Pay has the edge regarding the latest encryption standards, biometric ID requirement, and enhanced privacy from tokenization and changing security codes.

Which is More Secure for In-Person Payments?

For in-person point-of-sale transactions like paying at a store, Apple Pay is safer than using your physical credit card. Contactless Apple Pay transactions carry all the standard security protections added by your bank or credit card company, plus enhanced encryption, dynamic codes and biometric authentication only Apple Pay can provide. PayPal isn’t designed for in-person store payments, so Apple Pay better secures physical retail transactions.

Which is More Secure for Online Payments?

For making purchases online, PayPal offers better protection against potential losses from merchant fraud or non-delivery of items. PayPal will reimburse up to $20,000 per year from any goods or services bought through a PayPal merchant that ultimately don’t arrive or fail to match the seller’s description. Credit card companies also offer protection from fraudulent sellers, but may have lower ceilings before you start accepting losses. Apple Pay security focuses more on safeguarding your actual payment info.

Pros and Cons of Apple Pay Security


  • Uses tokenization so merchants never see your actual card details
  • Leverages latest 128-bit AES encryption standard
  • Requires biometric authentication via Touch ID/Face ID
  • Generates dynamic security codes with every transaction


  • Less refund protection for disputed/fraudulent transactions
  • Limited to only iPhone/iPad and recent Macs
  • Must have credit/debit card linked to Apple Pay to use

Pros and Cons of PayPal Security


  • Covers up to $20,000 in losses from unauthorized transactions or merchant fraud
  • Encrypts all transmission of financial information
  • Blocks suspicious transactions detected by AI/algorithms
  • Works across platforms and devices, including Android phones


  • Actual credit card number is stored (but encrypted)
  • Limited to online use for paying merchants
  • Lacks dynamic codes or biometric authentication of Apple Pay

Which is Better for You?

Choose Apple Pay if:

  • You want maximum security shielding your card details from merchants
  • Make frequent in-person transactions
  • Own iPhone/iPad/Mac and value biometric authentication

Choose PayPal if:

  • You primarily shop online with small businesses
  • Want insurance protecting online purchases
  • Use Android phones or devices lacking biometric IDs

Neither service is universally “better” regarding safety—it depends whether you prioritize enhanced encryption of transactions like Apple Pay, or protections against losses from merchant fraud that PayPal emphasizes. Assess your personal risks and device ecosystem to determine the right choice.

Key Takeaways

  • Apple Pay offers enhanced security from end-to-end encryption, tokenization to avoid sharing true card details, dynamic codes and Touch ID/Face ID biometric authentication.
  • PayPal provides decent encryption but emphasizes buyer protection by reimbursing up to $20,000 yearly if items aren’t accurately described or delivered.
  • Apple Pay is safer for retail point-of-sale transactions while PayPal offers more protection against online merchant fraud.
  • Consider your mobile ecosystem, devices you own, where you shop and types of fraud you want to guard against when choosing a payments provider.


Apple Pay and PayPal each carry robust security protections with slightly different priorities regarding fraud prevention and safeguarding sensitive user information. Apple Pay focuses on encrypting transaction details via advanced measures like dynamic codes and biometric authentication. PayPal uses encryption too while emphasizing their buyer protection policy covering up to $20,000 in annual losses from deceptive merchants or non-delivered goods. Weigh factors like where you shop, your current devices, and whether you make more in-person or online purchases to determine the right payment provider for your habits and security needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is more secure for online shopping?
    For online shopping security, PayPal is generally superior thanks to their buyer protection program covering you against merchant fraud or undelivered items up to $20,000 yearly.
  2. Does Apple Pay actually work?
    Yes, Apple Pay works very reliably due to near field communication technology and integration with iPhone/Apple Watch to enable quick contactless mobile payments.
  3. What credit cards can I use with Apple Pay?
    You can use Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover debit/credit cards with Apple Pay. The card must provide chip technology–no swipe-only cards.
  4. Is it safe to use Apple Pay?
    Yes, Apple Pay is extremely safe to use thanks to encryption, tokenization to avoid sharing real card data, dynamic security codes and Touch ID/Face ID biometric authentication.
  5. Can someone steal your money on Apple Pay?
    It’s very difficult for someone to hack into your Apple Pay account and steal money due to the layers of biometric authentication, dynamically changing codes, and encryption protecting all transactions.
  6. What happens if someone gets your Apple Pay info?
    Apple Pay avoids exposing your true financial information through tokenization. Even if thieves got the surrogate payment data, they couldn’t decrypt it or conduct many transactions due to the dynamic codes.
  7. Can Apple employees see your Apple Pay activity?
    No, Apple Pay leverages end-to-end encryption so no Apple employee can view your confidential transactional activity conducted through Apple Pay.
  8. Does PayPal store credit card information?
    Yes, PayPal stores your entered debit/credit card info on file but encrypts it using 256-bit systems so employees can’t view card numbers. PayPal may share anonymized transaction data but keeps personal activity private.
  9. Can PayPal transactions be traced?
    PayPal keeps records of all transactions. They use AI to monitor for suspicious patterns and will trace payments if conducting fraud investigations, resolving disputes between buyers and sellers or meeting legal requests.
  10. Is it safe to link bank account to PayPal?
    Generally yes, it’s safe to link your bank account to PayPal because all connections leverage encryption measures. PayPal also provides decent buyer protection frommerchant fraud. Just monitor account for suspicious charges.
  11. What happens if unauthorized transaction on PayPal?
    Contact PayPal immediately about any unauthorized payments or transfers from your account. Their buyer protection should reimburse you up to $20,000 yearly for verified fraudulent transactions from linked payment sources.
  12. Can you get hacked through PayPal Friends & Family?
    It’s unlikely to get hacked specifically via PayPal Friends & Family since it still uses PayPal’s encryption protections. You’re more at risk by sending money to someone you personally don’t know who gains access to your account credentials.
  13. Is Face ID or Touch ID safer for Apple Pay?
    Face ID and Touch ID offer comparable security for Apple Pay. Neither have experienced verified breaches. Touch ID senses fingerprints so handles some obstructions better but Face ID uses 3D facial mapping and may have slightly lower spoof failure rates.
  14. What credit cards don’t work with Apple Pay?
    The only credit cards that won’t work with Apple Pay are those lacking EMV chip technology and instead rely solely on magnetic stripe authorization. Swipe-only cards aren’t compatible with Apple Pay’s contactless infrastructure.
  15. Can stolen iPhone still use Apple Pay?
    No, a thief can’t authorize Apple Pay transactions on a stolen iPhone because purchases require confirmation via Face ID or Touch ID biometric authentication tied to original owner. This will fail for anyone else attempting access.

Leave a Comment