Google likes to tease the points world with the Google Wallet program in my opinion. They added the ability to pay people for free via any credit card that you loaded into Google Wallet, and the points world thought it would be the new and improved Amazon Payments (see Frequent Miler’s post on it). But then they suddenly changed it to include a 2.9% fee for all credit card transactions. Darn.
Now Google Wallet has a new feature – a Google Wallet Card. It’s a card that you can order for free directly from your Google Wallet account, and it says it will arrive in 10-12 days. Don’t get too excited – it’s not particularly useful to us at this point. Here are the highlights of the card:
- The Google Wallet Card is a MasterCard debit card (with PIN).
- Fee-free withdrawals at banks ATMs around the country (Fee from the ATM itself still applies).
- You CANNOT purchase money orders and certain other items with the card.
Any transactions from your Google Wallet Card must come from an existing balance in your Google Wallet account. According to their website, there are only two methods to load your Google Wallet account right now: Bank transfers (free) and credit cards (2.9% fee).
You can only spend money that you already have in your Google Wallet account. It really doesn’t make sense for manufactured spend right now since they charge a high fee to load with a credit card. If you do have money in your account, you can use the card as a PIN-enabled debit card where MasterCard is accepted.
As mentioned previously, you can withdraw cash at ATMs and banks, and Google will not charge you a fee. You will still be subject to a fee from the ATM owner. If you can find a way to load money cheaply, then you’ll be able to manufacture spend.
This isn’t an opportunity worth taking advantage of now, but I still recommend that you order a Google Wallet Card right now. It’s free to do so and it might become useful at some point in the future. Right now, this is kind of like PayPal in the sense that you can get a debit card and only use funds already loaded to your account. The main difference is that you can at least buy PayPal Reload packs at stores like CVS, and I don’t think it’s possible to load your Google Wallet account with reload packs just yet.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to in the future. Perhaps Google is challenging PayPal as a payment method, and if they are then it would be wise for them to allow people to load accounts in as many ways as possible. Their system is also set up to take on Amazon Payments, but the pesky fees make it unreasonable to do so. Also, it seems like Google is on to us since it explicitly states that you cannot purchase money orders with the card.
Let’s hope that all these changes to Google Wallet will eventually result in another method to manufacture spend!