As a happy Android phone user, I woke up this morning to what I truly believe is one of the biggest stories of the month. Google Wallet, a promising and yet underwhelming app from Google that allows you to buy and pay for things with your phone instead of plastic cards kept in your wallet has finally received a long-awaited update allowing users to add virtually any major credit card to their wallet. Yes, it’s that cool.
Using the Google Wallet app to add your credit cards is a breeze, and (depending on your device) you may be able to use it to pay for your next coffee, groceries, or even during dinner.
The idea is fairly simple. Google Wallet stores your credit cards, gift cards, and even prepaid Google cards in an app that works with the phone’s built-in NFC functionality to allow you to pay for things with your phone as though you have a physical card in your hand the whole time. All you need to do is unlock your phone and touch it to a wireless card reader (supported by a growing number of merchants) with NFC support and it should take your payment just fine. Just look for the MasterCard PayPass logo on the card reader when paying for your purchase. There are currently around 200,000 vendors supporting this technology today in the U.S.
How to Add a Card
Adding a card is pretty simple. Just follow this instructions and you should be up and running in no time.
- Launch the Google Wallet app.
- Enter your PIN if you have one set. (You should set one if you haven’t yet.)
- Tap Payment Cards.
- Swipe to the left until you get to the Add a Credit or Debit Card screen.
- Tap the big plus sign.
- Follow the instructions.
You can use a process similar to this to add gift cards and prepaid Google cards by navigating to the gift or prepaid card area located in the main Payment Cards screen. Once a card is added and confirmed, it should be ready for use.
How to Make a Card the Default NFC Payment Option
In the same card page you added your card through, you can navigate through your different credit cards and see what you have currently plugged-in to your account. There is a rectangular button under the card that says “Select Card” with a blue logo. If the logo is green, you’ve already chosen it as your default card and no further action is required. If it is blue, just hit that button and it’ll become your default payment card. You can change this option at any time.
How to Make a Payment
All you really need to do to make a payment is turn your phone on and tap it to the MasterCard PayPass reader located at the top of many credit card readers out there. If your phone supports NFC (a full list of devices is available here) you should be able to complete your payment using the default card as if you placed an NFC card up to the reader.
It’s usually a good idea to keep a physical card with you until you’ve properly vetted your device and any vendors you frequent. For me, that’s a safe prepaid card or one with a very small limit so my primary cards are safe at home and away from sticky fingers.
NFC has changed the way the world sees cashless payments. With programs like Google Wallet and Passbook for iOS, you can get a real idea of where these physical payments are going. Your phone has become your central hub for everything. What will be the point of having a bulky wallet five years from now?