The name Android Pay has undergone some rebranding to become Google Pay, but it’s still that same service that saves you from awkwardly sorting through the copious cards in your wallet in checkout lines while those behind you silently judge you for taking too long.
Google Pay will soon encompass both Android Pay and Google Wallet’s services as well. These changes were made either via update for existing users or by offering a brand new app to new users at the beginning of this year. Despite this consolidation and name change, little has changed in how it now works.
There is now a personalized list of nearby stores where you can pay using Google Pay. In addition, it now affords you the ability to set up Google Pay through compatible banks without ever having to install the Google Pay app.
Google Pay is also available in so many websites and apps (such as Airbnb, PayPal, and YouTube), and the rebranding has already rolled out to payment terminals. The user interface has changed a bit as well, with a Cards tab where your debit, credit, gift, and reward cards are now contained.
How Does It Work?
Understandably, you might have concerns about security where your money is involved.
Google Pay requires a pattern, PIN, password, or fingerprint screen lock. When possible, Google Pay uses physical and biometric authentication such as fingerprint ID, but can also be activated with a passcode. Google Pay is locked when your device is locked, which is why a screen lock is mandatory.
Google Pay Send (formerly Google Wallet) encrypts all payment information with SSL (Secure Socket Layer, which is the industry standard) technology.
Full credit and debit card information is never visible from within Google Pay Send, nor is it sent with the payment when you make a purchase through a merchant using Google Pay.
Instead, a virtual account number called a token that represents your card number is used with each transaction.
Download: Google Pay Send
When it comes to sending money using Google Pay Send, you will be asked to enter the phone number or email address of the recipient. The receiving party must associate that phone number or email to a bank account to deposit the funds, unless they too have Google Pay, in which case it will post directly. Google Pay itself uses the NFC (Near Field Communication) technology built into your device to transmit card information. To pay using Google Pay, you simply hold your Android within range of the point of sale system, and the system detects whether your device is considered secure, and may also request unlock information if necessary.
Setting Up Google Pay
Using Android (Google) Pay to make purchases is quick and easy, but you’ve got to be running Kitkat 4.4 or greater. There are quite often special offers to sign up (like if you do it soon—through 5/14/18, you can receive $10 towards books, movies, and games on Google Play).
There are also usually incentives to invite friends to sign up and make purchases using Google Pay (such as receiving a $100 credit to do so through 5/14/18). Terms and conditions do apply in both cases.
Google Pay works with hundreds of payment providers, including banks. Depending on the bank, you may have to meet its specific verification requirements as well. But aside from that, things should be pretty standard. Install (if it isn’t already on your device by default) the Google Pay app and log into your Google account.
Any gift, credit, loyalty, or debit cards that were added to Android Pay will automatically appear in Google Pay. Additionally, Google Pay will automatically pull and request for any cards associated with Google Play to be added to Google Pay. There will be a ton of permissions that you will need to agree to for Google Pay to have full functionality. The Pay app will guide you through setup.
You will see a button labeled Add a card. From there, it’s as easy as snapping a picture, or you can add the card information manually as well. If you ever decide that you want to disconnect Google payments, go to Settings > Google > Connected apps > tap the service you no longer want to use with Google payments > Disconnect.
How to Add Loyalty or Gift Cards
Who remembers their credit cards numbers, much less loyalty/reward numbers?
With Google Pay, you don’t have to. To add a loyalty card in the app, tap the Add Card button > Add a loyalty program, and use the Search option to find the loyalty card you want to add. You can then use your camera to scan the card’s barcode or add it manually.
The process to add a gift card is almost identical except that at the beginning you specify that you want to Add a gift card. Then you enter the gift card’s information and hit save. The store your gift card is for will probably in the search list if it’s a major chain, but if not, you might want to hang onto it just in case. There’s also the option to scan the card’s barcode, if applicable, rather than having to type everything in.
How to Set Up Google Pay on Your Smart Watch
The ultimate convenience is not even having to whip out your smartphone to pay, but simply being able to wave your wrist to checkout. Now you can, as long as you are in the UK, US, Australia, Spain, or Canada, and are using a supported card and a supported smartwatch.
To add a card to your watch, open the Google Pay app on your smart watch and go to Get Started and set up your screen lock. Then go to Google Pay on your paired phone, use the camera to add your cards, and tap the cards to add the watch. You are now ready to use Google Pay on your smartwatch.
What to Do When It’s Time to Pay
Now that your Google Pay is set up, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases online, at stores, and in many apps. At physical stores, you’ll want to look for the NFC symbol or the GPay logo. You only need to unlock your phone and hold it up to the scanner, and the app should pretty much do the rest. You might be asked for additional authentication, such as a signature or your PIN.
The Home tab of Google Pay shows your recent purchases, rewards, nearby stores, and offers advice. The Cards tab is where you can organize your credit and debit cards, offers, loyalty programs, and gift cards.
When you are within an app or doing some shopping online, simply hit the button that says Buy with GPay or select select Google Pay from the list of payment options. You can also set default shipping and payment selections by checking the box next to Use selected info for future purchases from this app.
How is Google Pay Different than Apple or Samsung Pay?
While Google (Android) Pay can be used on iPhones, Apple Pay is only available on Apple products. Apple Pay is accepted by major brands, but that doesn’t do much for you unless you have an iPhone or Apple Watch. Apple Pay mandates the use of a fingerprint scanner, while Google Pay encourages it, but will also accept the use of passwords, PINs, etc.
One additional feature that Samsung offers that the other two don’t is Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) technology. This feature allows the Samsung Pay app to emulate the magnetic strip you find on credit and debit cards so that it can be used at typical debit and credit card terminals, as well as NFC.
All of these services use the token method of generating a random transaction code instead of submitting your actual card number. This prevents the merchant or any of its employees from using your card fraudulently, or from revealing that information in a data breach.
Before I go, there are a few other odds and ends you should know about Google Pay.
Google Pay can even come in handy on your commute, by allowing you to save your transit tickets within the app. Google Pay does not currently support recurring payments, such as subscriptions or bills.
At this time, Google Pay Send is still around as a separate app because the consolidation of Android Pay and Google Wallet is not yet complete, but Google Wallet has completely transitioned to Google Pay Send.
Do you use Google Pay? Are you going to start now that you know a little bit more? Are there any Google Pay features you particularly enjoy? Are there any you wish Google would just go ahead and include?
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