With the release of Apple Pay, Google Wallet and other alternative electronic payment methods have been receiving extra attention. But before you jump on the bandwagon, there are a few things you probably want to know—is it safe, is it easy, and is it accepted by enough merchants to be worth it? Let’s take a deeper look at Google Wallet and how it can make your life a whole lot easier.
What is Google Wallet?
Google Wallet is a method for you to pay with your smartphone instead of with cash or credit cards. An app on your phone, linked to a method of payment, submits payment once you approve. Google Wallet works at bricks and mortar stores which have compatible terminals at points of sale; with the app active, waving the phone near the terminal initiates payment through a near field communication (NFC) chip. Google Wallet also works at online storefronts as well.
Is Google Wallet Safe?
In short—yes. And it’s possibly safer than using a physical credit or debit card.
According to Google:
- Your card info is secured on encrypted servers;
- Your full card info is never even shown in the app or shared with the merchant;
- The app is password or PIN protected;
- Your credentials are dynamically changed after each purchase;
- All transactions are monitored for fraud in real-time;
- And, you are not responsible for any fraudulent purchases.
So, that’s pretty extensive. Now, how do you sign up?
Just head over to google.com/wallet and click “Sign In” in the upper right-hand corner. It’s important to note that these first steps must be completed using the full desktop site, since some options are not available on the app or mobile version. Use your Google account information, just like every other Google service.
Next, input your personal and billing information, click “Accept and create,” and you’re good to go. Couldn’t be easier.
Checking Personal Settings
Make sure your information is correct by clicking on the gear button located just below your Google profile in the top right corner of your screen. Here, it’s easy to edit your address or name using the—you guessed it—“Edit” button.
Verifying Your Identity
While still on the Settings page, click on the “Verify” button to unlock all of Wallet’s features. The government requires that companies take steps to verify their customers’ identities, so by providing some more basic information, you’re enabling Google to send you several types of notifications, as well as a Google Wallet debit card with fraud monitoring.
The card lets you physically access your Wallet balance anywhere MasterCard is accepted, including ATM withdrawals.
Adding More Security
Though optional, we suggest opting in to Wallet’s personal PIN verification, which asks for a four-digit number whenever you:
- Open the app;
- Send money using the app;
- Withdraw money using the Wallet debit card.
In the settings menu, simply click “Set PIN,” enter a four-digit number, and hit “Create PIN.”
Installing The Wallet Mobile App
Finally, we get to the part where you get to use your phone. If you’ve been setting up your Google Wallet account using your phone’s web browser, return to Wallet’s home page and tap “Install now” to be whisked away to Google Play (or the Apple store, if, for whatever reason, you are using an iPhone).
Or, just visit Google Play to begin with. Either way, log in with your account info and PIN once it finishes.
App And Card Initial Setup
Adding Money To Your Google Wallet Account
Your virtual Wallet balance lets you send money to other people, make purchases online, and use your physical card to buy things in-store. Adding money to your account is completely free using your direct bank account information, but Google charges a 2.9% fee for debit or credit card transfers.
First, you’ll need to add an account. Using the mobile app, tap the ubiquitous “three lines” menu button in the top left corner, select “Cards and accounts,” then either link your bank account or add a credit/debit card. If adding a card, you have the option of scanning the card’s information using your phone’s camera, rather than punching it in manually.
Now, return to the app’s menu and select “Wallet Balance.” Here, you’ll be able to select from any of your designated sources and load your account with funds.
Activating The Google Wallet Debit Card
There aren’t any fees associated with activating your Google Wallet Card. On the mobile app, use the menu to return to the app’s main screen, or “My Wallet.” Here, you will see an option to request a Wallet Card. Just verify your address, and they’ll send the card on its way.
Google Wallet Features
Purchases: In-Store and Online
The list of companies who allow in-app Google Wallet purchases is pretty impressive, and includes Five Guys, Motel 6, and Sony. Look for the “Buy with Google” button when checking out on your favorite apps, or check here for a full list, and keep in mind any Google property, such as Play, Drive, and YouTube, will accept Wallet payments.
The Wallet Card is accepted at MasterCard locations as either a debit or credit card, and allows up to $5,000 in purchases every 24 hours. Cash withdrawals from banks and ATMs do not count towards this limit.
For locations offering contactless payment terminals, Google Wallet allows you to make fast payments using just your phone. Tell the cashier you are paying by credit, and hold the device a couple inches away from the reader. Enter your PIN, and you’re done. No fumbling with cards or rolls of pennies. Check out MasterCard’s handy search feature to see places near you where Paypass—and Google Wallet—are accepted.
Sending Money To Other People
On the app’s main screen, select “Send Money” to electronically transfer part of your balance to other Wallet accounts. You may be required to verify your identity again, either by phone or through online document submission.
After verification, you can transfer money to anyone in the United States—as long as they have an email address. Although receiving money and sending money with your Wallet balance is free, you’ll be charged the same 2.9% fee for transferring money from a debit or credit card.
In addition to sending money through the mobile app and the desktop site, you can also send and request money through Gmail when sending a new message by clicking the $ symbol in the attachments field.
Loyalty Programs And Additional Features
Existing loyalty program members can scan the bar code or enter their card’s information in the “Add any loyalty program” section of the app’s main screen. Or, you can use the app to search for new programs to join, allowing you to periodically check your rewards status and points accumulated.
Often merchants offer savable deals you can link to your Google Wallet account by tapping or clicking a “Save to Google” button on their site, allowing you to redeem them at checkout using the Wallet app. You may view your current offers in the “Loyalty and gift cards” section.
All orders purchased using Wallet can be tracked in the “Orders” section on the menu sidebar, letting you view payment history and shipping status. In addition, Wallet allows you to save your address information to avoid filling this field out every time you make an online purchase.
Google Wallet lets you set up ongoing subscription payments for apps, magazines, and games. You can manage these payments from clicking “Subscriptions” on the web site’s menu, but not on the app. Another feature only available on the web site is Authorizations, which allows you to view all sites and apps you have given permission to check out via Google Wallet.
Finally, if you want to get rid of Google Wallet, visit Google’s contact page to request an account closure.
- Google Wallet FAQs, Google.