Google Pay first added limited support for college IDs in 2020, letting students at 15 partnered colleges tap-to-enter locations like residence halls or campus dining halls. After expanding to many more schools, this feature has now transferred over to the Google Wallet app. But you can't directly add your ID to the app, and your school might not actually support the feature either. Here's how to add a student ID to Google Wallet, whether you're eligible to add your ID, and how to use it if you can.
Can you add your student ID to Google Wallet?
Android specifically supports campus IDs in the United States and Canada through Transact and CBORD. If your university doesn't partner with one of these companies, or you live elsewhere, you won't be able to add a student ID to Google Wallet — at least for now.
Transact claims that it "serves more than 12 million students across 1,750+ client institutions," while CBORD works with 900 campus partners. American and Canadian students have decent odds that their college employs the technology that backs Wallet IDs. But there isn't an official list anywhere: Instead, Google recommends that you "contact your campus card office" to find out for certain.
How to add a student ID to Google Wallet
There aren't any standardized steps to follow here, because it truly depends on which school you attend, and whether it partners with Transact or CBORD.
Before you start this process, make sure your phone will support the feature. You'll specifically need an Android phone bought in the U.S. or Canada, running 5.0 Lollipop or higher and NFC support, as well as the latest update of Google Wallet and fully-updated Google Play Services. If your phone is rooted or runs a custom ROM, you won't be able to use Wallet.
You'll also need to download the appropriate provider app that your campus uses. That could be the Transact eAccount app (opens in new tab), the GET Mobile app (opens in new tab) from CBORD, or a specific app for your university. We can't say for certain what you'll need since there's no standardized practice for university IDs in Google Wallet yet.
Whatever the app, Google provided these instructions for how to add your student ID to Wallet on your Android device:
1. Sign in to your school account with your username and password.
2. Tap Add to Google Wallet or Save to Google Pay.
3. Follow the on-screen instructions.
Not very instructive, but that's because your school will have specific ID requirements that you'll have to input (but others wouldn't).
Once your card is added, all you need to do to access it is open Google Wallet, scroll through your available cards to find the student ID, and tap it to queue it up. You'll be able to see your current account balance, meal plan info, and student ID number, along with any other relevant info.
If you're having trouble adding your ID, Google recommends updating Play Services to the latest version. Go to Settings > Apps & notifications > See all apps > Google Play Services > App Details and select Update.
What you can do with a student ID in Google Wallet
Once Google Wallet has your ID, your Android phone will become an easy-to-use key that unlocks dorms or pays for food with very little effort on your part.
To use your campus ID, all you need to do is tap your phone against an eligible card reader with the screen on, and you'll see a blue checkmark appear, acknowledging that the reader accepted your ID. You won't even need to unlock your phone.
If you'd rather you have to unlock your phone first — in case your roommate gets the munchies and swipes your phone while you're asleep, for example — you can open Settings > Connected devices > Connection preferences > NFC and tap Require device unlock for NFC.
Depending on your school's policies or partnered app provider, you can use Google Wallet tap-to-pay for books, dining, laundry, vending machines, and other eligible services. You'll also be able to enter your dorm building, sporting events, and so on with only your Android phone.
You'll also be able to access the Google Wallet app on most Android smartwatches, so you'll be able to tap your watch instead of your phone if that's more convenient for you.
Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.
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