Yet another online payments option is Google Wallet. Developed by the media giant, the service is available to all Google accounts, and can be accessed via a dedicated app from virtually any device. And if it can’t, the mobile-friendly website functions just as well.
How it works
Once you set it up, you need to link your Google Wallet account to your money by entering your credit card or bank account info. You can even add multiple cards and then color-code them to keep everything organized. You then can add funds to your balance, or have Google Wallet pull directly from the sources you assign. Google Wallet has a $5,000 daily spending limit, which is much higher than competitors. But to go with the highest spending limits, the Wallet also has the highest fees. Adding money will cost you 2.9% of the sum.
Google Wallet used to let you do all kinds of things with your money, to the degree that it was actually confusing. This new version has fewer features, so it’s a lot easier to navigate. Before, to complete a transaction, you had to dig through a number of layers of menus. Now, you can quickly and easily exchange money right from the main screen, thanks to the Venmo-inspired interface. As long as you have the email address of your friend, all they have to do is claim the money and set up their own Google Wallet account. If the money isn’t claimed in two weeks, it comes back to you. All transactions are recorded for future reference.
A recent update now also allows you to send cash via SMS, a feature that Wallet’s competitors have already had. If you send money via a text, the other party receives a secure link to the funds. All they have to do is tap the link, log into Google, put in their bank information, and cash out – that’s it.
Google Wallet card
Google Wallet’s goal is to make you take out your actual wallet less often. However, if you are determined to use a physical card, Google can help you with that too. If you use Google Wallet and reside in the US, you get a free Google Wallet card − a debit card that lets you use your Wallet balance in a more conventional way. It works much like a regular MasterCard, which you can use to make purchases and withdraw money from an ATM. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, the drawback is that it has several limitations.
Google Wallet card is different from traditional plastic cards because it does not draw money directly from a linked bank account. It only pulls from your Google Wallet balance, so you need to make sure you have adequate funds to cover a purchase. And you can only withdraw $300 from an ATM every 24 hours. Google Wallet card would have made much more sense if it had been a central hub for linked payment accounts, credit cards, and debit cards – that way you would not have to worry about having to transfer money. On the plus side, transaction receipts appear quickly in your Gmail account, and you always have a purchase record.
You also may have to decide how much privacy you are willing to sacrifice for the convenience. The stakes are even higher with financial data. Google can lock all your cards behind PINs, spending limits, and passwords to keep the sensitive information out of the hands of criminals. Whether it will keep it safe from the very advertisers that pay the company’s bills remains to be seen. Being able to access your purchasing patterns would be an advertisers’ dream come true and a nightmare for you. That said, there is nothing that suggests the data is exploited in any way.
Google Wallet’s new interface is a good improvement, even though it has lost some of its functionality. However, possible risks to privacy and high fees do not make it an obvious choice among the many online wallets available, WebMoney and CashU to name a few.
Do you use Google Wallet? How are you finding the new update? Share your opinion in the comments below.