Contactless payment has been available in Barcelona since 2012 and has become so widely available that you no longer need to carry cash. All shops and supermarkets in Barcelona now accept contactless payment, and you can pay with credit cards, debit cards and smartphones at bars, restaurants and tourist attractions.
The only caveat is that the card, whether a physical card or a card linked to an app, has to be accepted by the establishment where you are making the payment. The most commonly accepted cards in Barcelona are VISA, MASTERCARD and MAESTRO. Most shops and restaurants display a sticker indicating which cards and apps they accept.
Do shops and supermarkets in Barcelona accept contactless payments?
Supermarkets in Barcelona began accepting contactless payments back in 2012, and nowadays, even the smallest shops, bakeries and kiosks are set up to accept credit cards and smartphone payments.
Most shops have a sticker in the window showing which cards and contactless payment methods they accept. VISA, MasterCard and Maestro are the most widely accepted cards in Barcelona.
When using Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay, you effectively pay with one of the cards you have added to the app. So, for example, if a store only accepts MasterCard or Visa, you will only be able to pay with Apple Pay if you have a MasterCard or Visa card in the Wallet app.
Do bars and restaurants in Barcelona accept Apple Pay and Google Pay?
Most, if not all, bars and restaurants in Barcelona now accept contactless payment, either using a smartphone or a physical card.
It used to be commonplace for bars to stipulate a minimum value for credit or debit card payments, typically around eight euros. Nowadays, there is no minimum value, and, if you want to, you can now pay for a coffee or beer with a card or phone at most bars in Barcelona.
Do Taxis in Barcelona accept contactless payments?
All taxis in Barcelona accept credit card payments, either with physical cards or smartphones. Since 2017, Barcelona taxis have been legally obliged to carry a terminal for receiving credit card payments.
The only caveat is that, as with most stores and restaurants, they can typically only accept payments by VISA, MasterCard and Maestro cards.
Can you pay with a smartphone at Barcelona tourist attractions?
The ticket offices at tourist attractions in Barcelona are equipped with terminals for taking contactless payments. However, when visiting the most popular sites, it’s best to purchase your tickets online to avoid the queues.
There is no longer a ticket office at the Sagrada Familia, and tickets for visiting the basilica can only be purchased online.
Can you pay with a smartphone on public transport in Barcelona?
Some of the ticket vending machines at Barcelona train stations accept contactless payments for single tickets and travel passes. The ticket vending machines at metro stations and tram stops accept credit and debit cards, but they are not set up to accept contactless payment.
At the time of writing, the TMB (the Barcelona metropolitan transport company) is implementing a new contactless payment system called T-Movilitat, which is being tested on some bus routes and trams.
During the rollout, some buses are fitted with terminals that can accept contactless payments. However, you can only purchase single tickets, and it normally works out cheaper to buy a travel pass, which are available online and at metro, tram and train stations.
How to make a contactless payment with a credit or debit card
Contactless payments are fast and easy. You simply tell the cashier that you want to pay with a card, check that the value displayed on the terminal is correct and hold your credit or debit card within a few centimetres of the payment terminal. If your card is accepted, the terminal should beep and display a message indicating that the payment is being processed.
When paying for low-priced items, you will not be asked for the card’s PIN code. For articles or services which cost fifty euros or more, you have to authorize the transaction by entering your four-digit PIN code in the terminal.
How to pay using your smartphone
To be able to pay using an app, typically Google Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, you need to have a smartphone with an NFC antenna. Most telephones manufactured after 2015 will have an NFC antenna.
I’m going to describe the procedure for paying using an iPhone SE with Apple Pay, but the process is similar when using Google Pay or Samsung Pay.
1. Add your cards to the wallet app
Before you can start paying with your mobile phone, you first have to add the credit and debit cards you intend to use to the wallet app on your phone.
You can either take a photo of the card or enter the card details manually. The exact procedure for authorizing payment with the card will vary slightly depending on the bank which issued the card.
2. Once you have added your cards to the app, you are now ready to pay using your smartphone.
When you pay using Apple Pay, you effectively pay with the card you added to the phone. This means that if a store doesn’t accept a particular credit card for whatever reason, you won’t be able to pay with this card using your phone either.
- Wake up your phone by pressing the home button (varies depending on the model) and open the wallet app.
- Choose the card you want to pay with and place your thumb on the home button to confirm the payment using Touch ID. Newer iPhones use Face ID.
- Hold the iPhone close to the payment terminal and wait until the payment is authorized.
Is contactless payment safe in Barcelona?
When contactless payment first became commonplace, there were concerns that tech-savvy thieves could exploit the technology to steal money from your credit cards without even having to remove your wallet from your pocket or purse.
The theory is that, in crowded places such as the metro, thieves could simply mingle with the crowds and use an electronic “data sniffing” device to record the data stored on all the contactless cards and smartphones which come within ten centimetres of them.
In reality, as feasible as this may sound, it hasn’t become a problem, and I suspect that de designers of contactless technology have taken measures to ensure that it can’t happen. If you are worried about the risk, you could purchase an RFID blocking wallet or pouch like this one on Amazon, which has the advantage that it also protects you from pickpockets.