Your complete guide to Google Pay
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
For several years now, new payment methods have been cropping up that add convenience and security not only to online shopping, but also to shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. However, the pandemic has expedited the need for contactless payment options even more, seemingly overnight.
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After all, cash can harbor germs. Credit cards are somewhat better if they aren’t handed over to the cashier. But just think about how many people pushed the buttons on the terminal or picked up that pen to sign the screen before you. In this post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about Google Pay — a contactless payment option that’s an alternative of sorts to Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
What is Google Pay?
Mobile payment options like Google Pay enable you to use your phone to transmit a virtual account number, exclusive to each transaction, to the point-of-sale terminal via near-field communication. Because the contactless payment system uses a unique virtual account number, it’s not only more sanitary than using a credit card, it’s also more secure.
Aside from payment options, Google Pay offers these additional features:
- Create a group, allowing you to send or request money between friends and family.
- Review and search your previous transactions.
- View loyalty cards and order online at participating programs.
- Stay on top of your finances with a breakdown of spending.
- Earn cash-back rewards with offers at eligible businesses.
All you have to do is download the Google Pay app on your Android and iOS devices, add your payment methods and then use the app to shop anywhere Google Pay is accepted.
Which banks support Google Pay?
Google Pay works with virtually every bank and credit card provider in the U.S., as well as many of the larger credit unions. Banks that support Google Pay include (but aren’t limited to):
- American Express.
- Bank of America.
- BBVA Compass.
- Capital One.
- TD Bank.
- U.S. Bank.
- Wells Fargo.
There are a few exceptions to the banks listed above. Most notably, Google Pay may not support certain cobranded credit cards issued by Citi. It also may not support some commercial credit cards or ATM-only cards issued by other banks. Nor does it support Mastercard credit cards issued by Wells Fargo, or commercial Visa cards issued by a bank. For a full list of exceptions, click here.
In all, Google Pay can still connect with credit cards issued by many banks and credit unions across the U.S. and the world. You can even connect your PayPal account to your Google Pay account, enabling you to use your PayPal balance or PayPal credit to make a purchase using Google Pay.
Where can I use Google Pay?
Just as the credit cards, banks and credit unions supported by Google Pay span far and wide, so do the merchants where you can use the mobile payment platform. Google says you can use the platform at millions of locations worldwide.
To determine whether a specific retailer or restaurant uses Google Pay, look for the “G Pay” symbol or NFC payment icon on the point-of-sale terminal. You can also use your Google Pay app to find stores near you that accept the payment option.
You can also use Google Pay with apps such as Fandango, Kayak, Airbnb and Instacart. If you access Google Pay through Apple iOS (on an iPhone or iPad device) you won’t be allowed to use it to pay in stores, but can still use it for peer-to-peer transactions without fees. IOS users can also use Google Pay to access loyalty cards, gift cards and special offers; to pay via supported apps; and to pay for transportation, flights or event tickets through supported apps such as Kayak.
How many cards can I add to Google Pay?
You can add multiple bank accounts as long as they’re linked to the same phone number, and as many credit cards and loyalty rewards cards as you’d like to the payment platform.
Popular cards to use in Google Pay
Not surprisingly, some of the top-ranked rewards credit cards are also some of the more popular cards that people link to their Google Pay account.
Let’s look at a few of the top credit cards that can link to Google Pay and how you can use these cards to earn rewards.
It’s easy to use your American Express Gold Card with Google Pay and take advantage of multiplied rewards points through partners including Boxed and U.S. supermarkets that accept Amex and Google Pay. The Amex Gold offers:
- 4x points at restaurants.
- 4x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 per calendar year (then 1x).
- Up to $120 in dining statement credits per calendar year ($10 monthly) when you use the Amex Gold at participating restaurants and meal delivery services (enrollment is required).
- Up to $120 in Uber Cash per calendar year ($10 monthly) that you can use on U.S rides and Uber Eats purchases. Must add card to Uber account to receive benefit (enrollment is required).
Plus, new members can now earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases with their new card within the first six months of account opening.
The Amex Gold card carries a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees), but offers a host of benefits and rewards to offset it. With no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees), it’s easy and convenient to pair your Amex Gold with Google Pay for international travel for a secure, fee-free way to make purchases abroad.
Related: Who should get the Amex Gold card?
As the top-of-the-line rewards card offered by Chase, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is also a great card to link to your Google Pay account. With a $550 annual fee ($75 for each authorized user), the card delivers:
- A $300 annual travel credit that’s great for booking travel through Kayak and other apps supported by Google Pay.
- 10x points on Lyft rides through March 2022.
- 3x points on travel (after the $300 annual travel credit) and dining worldwide.
- 1x points on all other purchases.
You’ll also receive a complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash for a minimum of one year after activating by Dec. 31. You can pay conveniently for DoorDash with your phone using Google Pay and earn your Chase rewards simultaneously.
New Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can receive 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first three months from account opening. Keep in mind, the bonus offer only applies if you do not currently have a Sapphire card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for any Sapphire card in 48 months.
You’ll also want to remember Chase’s 5/24 rule — you cannot have opened more than five credit cards across all banks within the past 24 months to be approved for a Chase card. Creditworthiness and other qualifications also apply.
If you’re looking for a top-tier Chase rewards card but the $550 annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Reserve seems a bit steep, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred. With a $95 annual fee, the card offers bonus rewards for many stores and services that accept Google Pay.
For instance, you can earn:
- 5x points on Lyft rides through March 2022.
- 5x total points on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3x points on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out
- 3x points on select streaming services
- 3x points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
- 2x points on all other travel
- 1x point on all other purchases
New cardholders can earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This bonus is estimated to be worth $2,000 according to TPG’s valuations.
As with the Reserve card, new Sapphire Preferred cardholders also get a complimentary DashPass subscription for at least one year (if you activate by Dec. 31), making this a great card to pair with Google Pay.
Like Chase, Capital One also offers a great travel rewards credit card you can use with Google Pay for added convenience when you shop. The Capital One Venture Rewards card has a simple earning structure that delivers 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. New applicants can earn 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Do I earn rewards with Google Pay?
Yes, you’ll earn the credit card rewards you would get when you pay using a card through the app, just as if you’d used the physical card for payment.
You can also link your loyalty rewards cards to Google Pay with one click. Go to “Settings,” “General” and toggle “on” the function called “Gmail Imports” to link any loyalty cards, event tickets and other offers sent to your Gmail inbox.
You can input loyalty cards and gift cards manually by clicking “+Pass” and scanning the bar code using your phone. There’s no more forgetting your gift card at home when it’s easily stored in your phone via Google Pay.
How to set up Google Pay
Google Pay is easy to set up and use. It comes preloaded on most Android phones, so all you have to do is link a bank account or credit cards to the app. Google Pay is also now available for iOS users (version 12 or later). You can download the app through the App Store.
Once you’ve opened the app, you’ll have the option to set up a Touch ID for added security. Then you’re ready to add payment methods. Add a card manually by entering the numbers, expiration date and security code, or click “Scan card” and line up your card’s account number with the frame on your phone’s screen.
Which countries support Google Pay?
You can use Google Pay to make online or app purchases in more than 70 countries. Note that some countries may only support online purchases and not support point-of-sale purchases using NFC technology. They are:
- American Samoa.
- Antigua and Barbuda.
- Czech Republic.
- Dominican Republic.
- Hong Kong.
- New Zealand.
- Saudi Arabia.
- South Africa.
- Sri Lanka.
- United Arab Emirates.
- United Kingdom.
- United States.
You also can use Google Pay to send money to friends and family in the U.S., Singapore and India.
Is Google Pay secure?
NFC technology and virtual wallets have been shown to be safer than many other forms of payment, including credit cards not enabled with EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) chip technology or used in places not equipped for EMV sales. Each time you make a purchase using Google Pay, the app creates a virtual account number used exclusively for that transaction.
Your information is stored securely in your mobile device, which can be protected through facial recognition or fingerprint technology. Further, you can set up Touch ID or a PIN to confirm every time you send money for an added security layer.
Is there a fee?
When you use Google Pay to transfer money to family or friends, or when you use a debit or credit card to make a purchase in a store or through a service, Google Pay charges no added fees.
Keep in mind, if you use Google Pay in a store, the credit card provider may consider it a card-present transaction and charge the merchant a fee of up to 4%.
If the merchant is passing those fees on to customers or offering a “cash discount” for those who don’t use a credit card, you could pay more than 6% (2.9% plus up to 4%) to use your credit card through Google Pay. It’s important to read signage around the store before you make a decision about how to pay, and keep a debit card or bank account linked to Google Pay so you can save on fees in those circumstances.
Google Pay is a safe, convenient and healthy way to pull your frequently used rewards credit cards and debit cards — as well as your customer loyalty cards — into one app. It’s nice that there’s no limit to the cards you can add to your wallet, unlike Apple Pay which restricts you to 12 cards. You can streamline that bulky physical wallet (if you’re a cards collector like many of us at TPG), reduce the risk of lost credit cards and ramp up your rewards with this easy-to-use payment system.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Madison Blancaflor.
Featured photo by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket for Getty Images.
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