Google Wallet Review – Should This be in Your Wallet?

Powered by NFC technology, Google Wallet allows your phone to act as your credit card.

By tapping your phone (only Android at this time) against a compatible chip reader available with select shops, your payment information are transferred to the merchant without swiping any physical card.

Google Wallet in fact aiming for a plastic credit card extinction.

While the idea of combining your phone and your credit cards may be scary, Google Wallet, in theory, is more secure than a plastic card. If you haven’t used Wallet in the past 30 minutes or so (or if you manually lock it), a PIN is required to use Google Wallet app.

The Google Wallet is not a new innovation – the technology of just swiping a smart card over an NFC reader has been present since the 1990s, if you can imagine.

Germany has been using the NFC technology for quiet some time, albeit not with smartphones.

The innovation is integrating that function with a smart phone, and that is all there is to it. The smart phone is becoming more and more the gadget for all gadgets.

To use a credit card on Google Wallet, you first need to store the details of the card in Google Wallet app.

Where to use Google Wallet

The biggest drawback so far is the limited applicability. I guess in a few years NFC technology, whether from Google or from any other company, should become mainstream.

You can use Google Wallet only if all of the following are true

  • You have Sprint as cell phone carrier
  • You have Nexus 4s smart phone
  • You installed Google Wallet App on your Nexus 4s
  • The store or site you are shopping from accept master Card Pay Pass. Find out where


Paying with Your Google Wallet

First, you have to see the Google Wallet logo on the door of the merchant. If you don’t, then you won’t be able to use your Google Wallet even if you can still use your credit cards. And there is the next problem.

While the technology is more than a decade old, it is still one of those new-flanged things when it comes to the average salesperson. You will certainly see eyebrows raised when you pass by the checkout counter, tap your phone on the NFC reader, pick up your bill from a surprised cashier, then leave, still with eyebrows raised. The transaction is wireless, so unless you know what’s going on, you wouldn’t know what happened.

But that is the best case scenario. Sometimes, the process of paying with your Google Wallet doesn’t work, and it will raise eyebrows just a little bit higher. And since no one knows what is happening in the first place, you better have your credit cards at the ready, since that is how you will be paying if the process is experiencing some glitch or the other.

Currently, Google Wallet supports two kinds of credit cards: most Citi® PayPass™ eligible MasterCard® credit cards and the Google Prepaid Card.

Google promises to included all available credit cards eventually.

The Possibilities with Google Wallet

But imagine the possibilities as the Google Wallet becomes more reliable in transactions. Potentially, you can have an app that chooses the best credit card to use in any transaction you make. That alone should save you some money already. Long lines at the checkout counter can be a thing of the past – NFC readers can be available right at the shelves of the store, and can make the checkout counter obsolete.

Try to remember each time you pulled out your wallet, and then replace the whole process with just tapping your phone against an NFC reader. Even bank transactions can become wireless, regular payments easily scheduled, and for merchants and retailers, a more comprehensive set of information about you and your purchases.

And the best part is that the Google Wallet is not even a credit card. Well, you can have a virtual Google Wallet prepaid card where you can transfer funds, so that in case something goes wrong with the transaction with your credit card, the Google Wallet prepaid card comes in to save the day.  But the Google Wallet in itself is not a credit card.

Security of Google Wallet

Believe it or not, Google Wallet is more secure than you actual wallet. Your credit card information which you store in Google wallet app, is stored in a hardware chip, not on the phone operating system. Not an easy task to break in to that.

By the time hackers get in to the stored card information, you’ll have ample time to alert your credit card company to cancel the card.

You need to use PIN for every transaction. So, just stealing your phone and using it for payment is not going to work instantly. The PIN has to be retrieved first.

Potential Problems with Google Wallet

The real problem with Google Wallet is going to be security.

Making all transactions virtual is the future, but until everyone is familiar with the technology, there are a lot of ways to lose your information, instead of making it convenient.

Not only merchants should be educated, but also card holders, and while the impetus is already there with the omnipresent smart phone, it is still going to take some time.

The biggest one though, is that you need to buy Nexus 4s phone from Sprint to be able to use Google Wallet, until they are expanded.

Conclusion on Google Wallet

Google Wallet is the mobile payment system I have always waited for. But, until more vendors, credit cards, and my iPhone are supported, I’ll wait and watch.

Some other reviews you might be interested in

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  1. I think Google wallet and similar apps are definitely the way of the future. I wish I could try it out but I don’t have a smartphone! I feel I’m falling more and more behind the times by holding on to my calls-and-texts-only phone. I’ll be excited when lots of vendors are using the new technology.


    • Don’t worry you are saving on a data plan. I pay $25 a month and thats sold $300 a year. You are doing much better.


  2. […] Google Wallet Review: Should This Be in Your Wallet? by Finance Product Reviews […]


  3. nice writeup.

    when i was cell phone shopping back in november.. i highly considered getting the galaxy nexus, just because of its NFC capabilites and google wallet.

    i am glad that i didn’t make that a deciding factor however, because i just haven’t seen very many retailers that offer GW as a way to pay. perhaps that will change in the future.. but until it does.. i will stick with my debit card.


    • That’s a good decision Jeff, and the very first bunch in product line is usually full of untested flaws. We did the right thing.


  4. I have an iPhone, but I really want the NFC technology and Google Wallet!


    • I think I am as well. But let’s wait till its widely accepted and on every smart phones.


  5. […] @ Financial Product Reviews wrote an extensive review of Google Wallet, the technology that enables you to pay for purchases with a wave of your phone (with perfect […]


  6. This is the future and I can’t wait until it’s widely available. I hope it somehow becomes a paypal competitor as well.


  7. […] 16, 2012, Serve released a statement that it would be operating with the same technology as Google Wallet – making a sale or transaction through the use of smartphones and an NFC card […]


  8. I just wanted to say thank You for the informative Article.
    It’s interesting and helpful.
    However, I’d like to draw Your attention to one obvious typeo:
    “Germany has been using NFC. Technology for quiet some time.”.

    I look forward to more Articles, of the same high Standard.



  9. Sprint and Google had a promotion when you buy or upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone. With the promotion I was promised $50 in prepaid money on the Google Wallet. They give you $10 when they activate the phone and supposedly $40 more within a month. After numerous calls to Sprint and Google and the company that supports the pre-paid card I never did get the other $40. Tired of trying. I used this two times with the $10 credit. The PayPass terminals are pretty old and some don’t work with this. I was able to get it to work at a 7-11 store. Very hard to figure out how to re-load the pre-paid card and after what I’ve gone through ti might not be worth the trouble. Nice idea but they didn’t trouble shoot and don’t believe they will ever give you that credit!!


  10. It is difficult for an intelligent person to read all this gibberish from our ‘younger’ people. You folks seem to decide ‘what is the future’ based on nothing at all except what you seem to want TODAY, and to h*ll with ANY possible downside. If you cannot see the very real, very dangerous risks, you should not have graduated 6th grade.

    Many things have been touted as ‘the future’, especially in the past decade, and are now gone. You people should really take a look at the dangers of RFID. That Germany uses it is NOT a favorable recommendation.


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