I requested a Google Wallet card recently. As you may know, this is Google’s second major push to get you to adopt their payment service which now operates both through a card and your Android phone. The first attempt focused heavily on paying by phone (aka tap-to-pay). That failed due to not enough capable terminals and carriers blocking the feature.
Now Google Wallet is back with what is essentially a debit card. Yes – the thing nobody online knows what to do with or why they need yet another card.
The Google Wallet Card is a debit card that lets you spend your Wallet Balance at millions of MasterCard® locations or withdraw at ATMs. Money is added to your Wallet Balance either by someone sending you money via Wallet or Gmail, or by adding it yourself from a linked bank account or from a credit/ debit card. The card has no fees to order and activate. There are no annual or monthly fees for the Google Wallet Card. Learn more about the Google Wallet Card.
I think I fit the profile of Google’s target user, and I’m pretty happy with Wallet.
Here’s where I think Wallet’s primary target market (for now) is:
- NOT actively using a debit card (though you can link cards I think this is one of the big indicators of whether you like wallet)
- Want to switch over to using debit more often
- Do not want to worry about bank account being hijacked (my GF Jen had hers compromised in the Target scandal).
- Easy way to monitor transactions
I’ve been using my physical Google Wallet card quite a bit. Previously I had the tap-to-pay version which was great at CVS stores (the only place where I ever found a reliable terminal that would let me tap to pay).
Maybe the newness of a physical card will wear off. I like that immediately after using Google Wallet a receipt pops up on my Android phone.
Talk about easy to catch fraud. I review transactions anytime I like. Review balances by glancing at my phone.
By the time I’ve left the store I’m receiving an electronic receipt. At some point, save for infighting between competing payment providers, I see this as the way we all receive our receipts. I bet Google does too – and they would love to know your purchasing history.
The NFC portion of Google Wallet (aka tap-to-pay) won’t work for phones on carriers that are battling to introduce their own payment products (I believe that will be all of them). The Nexus 5 does support it.
My experience with touch-to-pay is sad and dismal.
The payment terminals that accept it often don’t work. And places you want to use tap to pay often don’t have a terminal. Nothing has changed here since Google started offering Google Wallet in 2011. Store clerks still look at you as if you’re on a day pass from the asylum when you try to use a phone to tap and pay at their checkout.
Google worked around the tap-to-pay flop by issuing what’s essentially a debit card that you fund by multiple sources. Until the end of April, they’ll let you fund it by a credit card (up to $250) without any fee (typically 2.9% since it’s really a cash advance). I resisted signing up for one of these free cards until recently, and I wish that I’d done it sooner.
Request a card by loading the Google Wallet app on your phone. From within the app there is a button to request that a card be sent. Mine arrived in less than 7 days. I’ve initially funded it from my credit card, though to avoid fees I’ll need to connect it to a bank account soon.
If you’re not using a debit card, and you’d like to carry less cash and pay by a system which notifies you of each transaction – Google Wallet is a great choice. In my view, the long game here is to convince a critical number of users to pay by Google Wallet and allow Google Wallet to capture electronic receipts. Armed with that data, Google would have a powerful tool to serve up even more promotional advertisements. Whether that’s something people want or not remains to be seen.