What Is Google Wallet and How Does It Work?

/ BY / Credit Cards

If you have a smartphone, chances are you've downloaded a number of apps to make life a little easier and a little more convenient. Google Wallet is one app that can help simplify your shopping experience.

What Is Google Wallet?

Announced in May of 2011 and debuting in September of the same year, Google Wallet is a mobile payment system that transforms your phone into your credit card, allowing you to pay either online by logging into your Google Wallet account or at the checkout stand with your phone.

How Does Google Wallet Work?

Google Wallet is run off of NFC, or Near Field Communications, a short-range but secure wireless technology platform. After you download the Google Wallet app, you can link your Citibank Master Card directly to your Google Wallet account. If you don't have a Citibank card, you will have to get a Google prepaid card and load funds on it from any account of your choosing. Your prepaid card then becomes your default method of payment.

From there, you can pay for things with you phone simply by tapping your phone against a specialized card reader. This works in any location that has a Pay Pass terminal. For security purposes, you must enter your PIN number before making any purchases.

Pros and Cons of Google Wallet

Many believe that Google Wallet will revolutionize the way consumers make purchases by eliminating the need for multiple credit and debit cards. Before jumping on the Google Wallet bandwagon, it's important to consider the pros and cons.

Some of the main advantages of Google Wallet include:

  • Convenience. One of the main selling points of Google Wallet is the convenience factor--you don't need to mess with your purse or wallet or be inconvenienced if you forget your wallet somewhere. The only thing you need is your phone.
  • Simplicity. Users love the ability to simply tap their phone against a card reader instead of swiping it and going through a number of approval steps. Online, you need only log into your account to pay through Google Wallet.
  • Google Offers. Google Offers are an added perk only available to customers who use Google Wallet. These include money off of a wide range of products online and in-store, including dining, automotive services, and more.
  • No transaction fees. There are no fees associated with using Google Wallet either in-store or online.

While there are definite advantages to Google Wallet, there are a number of downsides to consider as well. The most obvious include:

  • Availability. Google Wallet is available on a very limited number of cell phones and carriers. Currently, only Sprint customers with select Nexus phones can use Google Wallet.
  • Retail acceptance. Google Wallet and credit cards are not interchangeable. The store must be equipped with an updated version of the NFC reader, and few stores actually are. Google Wallet's website lets you type in your address to find retailers in your area that support Google Wallet.
  • Requires extra steps. Google Wallet only supports the Citi MasterCard. If you don't have a Citi MasterCard, then you must purchase a Google pre-paid card and then add funds to it from the credit card you want to use.
  • Security concerns. Although Google has taken many steps to keep data secure--including separate chips for storage of payment information, PIN numbers to access, and encrypted protocols--security will always be a concern for people, particularly if a phone is lost or stolen.

Bottom Line

If you have a compatible phone and enjoy the convenience of cutting-edge technology, Google Wallet is worth a try.

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