How To Use PayPal In Stores & Other PayPal Questions Answered
The name PayPal is synonymous with P2P payments and digital wallets for consumers. Over the years, though, PayPal has also dabbled in creating options for users to pay with their PayPal balances in brick-and-mortar stores. Despite a few failed attempts, PayPal seems to have finally worked out the kinks in the process. PayPal users can now utilize near field communication (NFC) technology to spend their balances at shops in the offline world.
For those who find themselves asking “How do I pay with PayPal in stores?” — this article is for you. We’re going to take a deep dive into the various means by which you can use your PayPal balance to make real-world purchases. We’re also going to fill merchants in on the different ways you can accept PayPal payments in your store.
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How To Pay With PayPal In-Store
If you have a PayPal balance and you want to spend it in a brick-and-mortar store, you have three options: NFC-based payment using your Android phone, a PayPal-issued card (of which there are several options), and QR codes.
It’s also important to know that PayPal has discontinued two in-store payment options it previously offered: payment codes and the mobile phone + pin method. (Support ended for both on March 31, 2018.)
Let’s start by looking at the card options PayPal offers. Then we’ll talk about NFC payments with PayPal.
PayPal offers Mastercard-backed debit cards for business and personal users, depending on what type of account you have. For consumers, there’s even a prepaid card that allows you to load your PayPal balance in set increments, among other perks. These cards are linked to your PayPal balance and even allow you to withdraw cash from ATMs at no charge from PayPal (non-MoneyPass ATMs will still charge a fee though).
If you have one of these cards, you can also use your PayPal smartphone app at the register to add cash to your balance at supported stores (the following link lets you search for a supported store near you). However, a service fee of up to $3.95 applies when you do this.
Let’s take a closer look at PayPal’s debit cards.
PayPal Cash Card
If you’re a personal user (i.e., not a business user) of PayPal, this is the debit card you’re eligible for. There’s no fee to get the card, and there’s no monthly or annual fee to use the card. However, you will be charged a $2.50 fee for ATM withdrawals at non-MoneyPass ATMs within the US (MoneyPass ATM withdrawals are free). There’s also a 2.5% foreign transaction fee on all non-US transactions.
PayPal Business Debit Mastercard
The PayPal Business Debit Mastercard is only available to those with a Business PayPal account. (If you don’t yet have a PayPal Business account, read our PayPal Business account setup guide to see how to create one.) It operates just like the PayPal Cash Card with one notable bonus: You’ll get 1% cash back on all purchases. Your cash back is calculated at the end of each calendar month, then automatically credited to your PayPal account.
While the PayPal Business Debit card carries no monthly or annual fees, you will incur a $1.50 fee per ATM withdrawal (plus any amount charged by the ATM owner), a 1% foreign transaction fee on non-US transactions, and a fee of 1% of your total withdrawal amount at any non-US ATM.
PayPal PrePaid Mastercard
The PayPal PrePaid Mastercard lets you instantly transfer money from your PayPal account to your prepaid card. You can also get your paychecks (or government payments) automatically put onto your prepaid card account via Direct Deposit. What’s more, you can add cash to your card at any of the 130,000+ NetSpend Reload Network locations. (Fees may apply; check with the location.)
PayPal Credit Cards
PayPal also offers two branded credit cards (though, apart from depositing cash back rewards into your bank account, these cards have very little to do with your actual PayPal balance). The PayPal Cashback Mastercard and the PayPal Extras Mastercard offer different perks and incentives for their users.
How To Set Up PayPal NFC For In-Store Payments
At the time of writing this (August 2020), PayPal doesn’t currently support NFC payments from directly within the app itself. Instead, PayPal has opted to form a partnership with Google to allow Android phone users to connect PayPal to their Google Pay accounts and even make it the default payment option. That means in order to pay with PayPal in stores, you need an Android phone that supports Google Pay. (I can personally attest to the fact that as of August 2020, you cannot add your PayPal account as a payment method in Google Pay if you’re using Google Pay on an iPhone.)
Here’s how to connect PayPal to your Google Pay account on an Android device:
Step 1: Go to payment methods
Open your Google Pay app and select “Payment methods.”
Step 2: Add a payment method
Tap the blue button that says, “Add payment method.”
Step 3: Add PayPal
Two options should come up at the bottom of your screen: “credit or debit card” and “PayPal.” Choose PayPal!
Step 4: Enter your PayPal email address and finish the process
Next, enter your PayPal email address when prompted (though it may autofill). Then, hit “Allow” to confirm your information and “Accept” to finish the process of adding PayPal to your Google Pay account. It’s that easy!
I should mention that Samsung Galaxy users can also add a PayPal account to Samsung Pay if they prefer. Both options are easily accessible within the Settings menu of the PayPal mobile app.
Using QR Codes To Pay With PayPal
This option isn’t currently offered by very many retailers, but with merchants who provide a PayPal QR code, you can use your PayPal balance to make an offline purchase. You do this by opening your PayPal app, tapping “Scan/Pay,” which brings up your camera, holding your camera up to the QR code, and letting it capture the image, then entering the amount due. Press “Send” and show the payment confirmation screen to the cashier, and boom, you’ve just conducted the transaction.
Unfortunately, you won’t find many stores offering PayPal QR codes at the moment. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic driving retailers to prioritize contactless payments, this may be changing. Drugstore giant CVS recently announced that 8,200 of its US stores will support PayPal QR payments by the fourth quarter of 2020.
Can You Add PayPal To Apple Pay?
Unfortunately, PayPal does not currently support NFC payments with Apple devices, and you cannot link your PayPal balance to Apple Pay or Apple Pay Cash. That may change in the future, but for now, it’s not an option. You won’t see an option to link PayPal in the Apple Pay wallet setup or the PayPal app on an iOS device.
However, Apple does allow you to link your PayPal balance to your iOS account so that you can use PayPal to pay for iTunes purchases as well as iCloud and Apple Music subscriptions. By enabling PayPal’s One Touch feature, you can eliminate the need to log into your PayPal account to authorize each purchase.
Where Can You Pay With PayPal In Stores?
There’s no specific list of businesses or locations that accept PayPal payments in-store. Of course, seeing as PayPal debit and credit cards are accepted by any merchant that can process Mastercard, pretty much every business that can process credit cards can accept PayPay payments via this route. Likewise, to accept NFC payments, merchants need to have the appropriate hardware — specifically, an NFC-capable credit card reader or terminal. Lastly, while most stores don’t yet offer PayPal QR codes, CVS’s announcement may mark the beginning of a trend.
Major Online Stores That Accept PayPal
If you’re curious as to which online retailers accept PayPal, well, the full roster is far too long to show here. However, PayPal put together a list of some of the bigger PayPal-friendly sellers that includes the following names:
- Best Buy
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Playstation Store
- Starbucks (online)
Can You Use PayPal Credit In Stores?
Currently, PayPal doesn’t support the use of PayPal Credit in stores. Note that PayPal Credit exists separately from PayPal’s credit cards. PayPal Credit specifically applies to online purchases and offers six months of no-interest financing on purchases.
How Can Merchants Accept PayPal Payments?
The good news is you don’t have to be a PayPal merchant to accept payments from PayPal customers in stores. (If you want to accept PayPal payments online, that’s another story. I suggest you check out our PayPal review to see whether the company’s merchant services fit your needs.)
Keep in mind that customers have three ways to pay with PayPal: using one of PayPal’s Mastercard-backed debit or credit cards, NFC payments, and QR codes.
PayPal Debit & Credit Cards
The good news is that if you already accept debit or credit card payments, you don’t need to do anything more to accept PayPal cards. As long as your agreement includes Mastercard processing (and it almost certainly does), you’re good to go! If you don’t currently accept credit/debit cards and are considering making the leap, we recommend checking out our top-rated credit card processors as a starting point!
PayPal NFC Payments
For most customers to pay with NFC via Google Pay, you (the merchant) need to have NFC-enabled hardware. Look for the contactless payment symbol on your credit card reader/terminal, or check the specs in the user manual or online. Samsung Pay users can utilize a nifty feature called MST (magnetic secure transmission) to emulate a card swipe even if the terminal doesn’t support NFC hardware, but you likely won’t see this feature used very often.
PayPal QR Codes
To accept PayPal payments via QR code, you can generate one from PayPal’s website and print it out yourself, or you can order table cards, wallet cards, or stickers (or a bundle of all three) from PayPal’s QR accessories page. When a customer scans your QR code using the PayPal app on their phone, they can transmit the amount owed directly to you from their PayPal balance.
Accepting PayPal Online
While we’ve been focusing on accepting PayPal in-store in this article, I should mention that merchants looking to accept PayPal online have the option of using PayPal Checkout as a supplementary payment option along with PayPal Standard. With PayPal Checkout, a customer logs in to their PayPal account from a product detail or shopping cart page and confirms their payment details in a secure pop-up window on your site. It has the advantage of letting your customers check out without needing to complete forms on your site, as the customer’s contact and shipping details — already saved to their account — are simply passed on to you.
Of course, unlike PayPal Checkout, the beauty of PayPal Standard is that a customer doesn’t even need to have a PayPal account to use it to make a purchase, so you won’t want to rely solely on PayPal Checkout.
Learn To Make The Most Of PayPal
PayPal offers an almost dizzying array of payment tools for both consumers and merchants, and it’s likely we’ll see the features list grow even longer in the future. Will we see NFC support in the PayPal app directly or added support for Apple Pay? Currently, that’s an unknown. In the meantime, we can all appreciate the fact that the future has finally arrived, and we can actually spend our PayPal balances in stores — not just online.
If you’re looking into PayPal as a processing solution for your business, check out the following articles!