As is Google's way, the handful of different methods it had for allowing digital, contactless, and peer-to-peer payments have shifted from living in several different apps and services to all residing under the auspices of the new Google Pay app. So, get ready to load it up onto the best Android phone you can find and change the way you pay.
The updated Google Pay confusingly replaces a different app of the same name, but it's the one you'll need to get in order to continue using the older apps features. You don't have to worry too much about getting it wrong, though, as trying to use the old app will prompt you to switch to the new Google Pay.
For those familiar with Google's earlier services, the new Google Pay does some things the same and some different. To those new to Google Pay, you'll find a lot on offer.
So, from the latest news to all the important details, here's everything you should know about Google Pay!
All the big details
Google Pay is front and center
There's no more Google Wallet, Android Pay, or Google Pay Send. These have all been relegated, and the new Google Pay takes over for all of these. Want to store your credit cards for contactless payment and easy online payments? Want to send a friend money or give rent to your roommate? That's all done in Google Pay now.
The new Google Pay app is available on Android devices and even some iOS devices (though far more limited in features). In a handful of counties you can even use one Google Pay with Wear OS smartwatches for contactless payments.
With all the features rolled into one, Google Pay is now your home for making payments of all kinds.
Google Pay gets a huge overhaul with new design and cashback rewards
Google Pay is designed to help you find ways to use it. You can quickly connect with contacts or groups of contacts in the app to make payments with your friends and family. It can also show you local restaurants and gas stations that accept Google Pay.
The app can also help you find special offers from merchants. This can include discounts and cashback rewards. This will let you save or earn when you use Google Pay to process transactions at those businesses.
Google's 'Plex' bank account is coming soon
Alongside the new app, Google introduced its new Plex bank account. This provides full integration with Google Pay and the mobile app. You'll be able to do everything you would expect from a mobile banking app, but it will also seamlessly tie into Google Pay.
Plex will be launching in 2021, but if you download the new Google Pay app, you can sign up for the waitlist. Here are the financial institutions that are partnering with Google, with Citi and Stanford FCU being the first partners when Plex launches:
- Citi Bank
- Stanford Federal Credit Union
- Seattle Bank
- Green Dot
- The Harbor Bank of Maryland
- First Independence Bank
- Coastal Community Bank
How to get started with Google Pay
That's all fine and dandy, but how does one actually start using Google Pay?
Thankfully, Google's made this fairly simple. After downloading the app, you'll be able to quickly add credit/debit cards, gift cards, loyalty programs, and more. Worried about compatibility with the best Android phones? Have no fear, as Google Pay can be used with just about any Android phone on the market today.
What countries are supported?
Google's regularly adding support for more and more countries that can use Google Pay. The list is lengthy, and the pool of countries supported varies depending on which features of Google Pay you're looking to use. For peer-to-peer payments, the list is short at just the US, India, and Singapore. However, Google expects that to expand dramatically this year, even with payments between countries, with over 200 regions covered by Western Union and over 80 covered by Wise.
To enable NFC contactless payment on your Android phone through Google Pay, you can view the current list here. If you'd like a complete breakdown of which features are supported in which counties, Google has that here.
Make sure your bank/card is compatible, too
Live in a country that supports Google Pay? Awesome! However, that's just half the battle in ensuring you can use the service.
Even if you live in one of the above countries, you still need to have a bank and card that supports Google Pay before you can start making payments in stores with your phone. Thankfully, Google's been building up this list for quite a few years meaning there's a good chance you're covered.
Major brands like AMEX, Capital One, Chase, Discover, and Wells Fargo are all on-board with Google Pay in the U.S. Along with this, you'll also find a huge list of smaller banks/credit unions that are supported as well.
You can use the app to store boarding passes, event tickets, and more
In addition to your credit/debit cards, you can also use Google Pay to store gift cards, loyalty programs, and most recently, boarding passes and event tickets.
You'll find all of these items in the Passes section of the app after they've been added, and if you've got a lot stored in there, you can hold down on an item and move it around to make sure everything's as organized as can be.
Similar to what iPhone users have been treated to for years with Apple Pay, you'll now see an "Add to G Pay" button when ordering a ticket from these brands so you can easily store everything under one single app.
Google Pay is extra ready for travel
On top of letting you pay at gas stations and restaurants, Google Pay will let you pay on many transit systems or pay for parking in select cities. Google Pay is working with over 80 transit agencies, so you can store a card for boarding trains and busses right onto your phone. If you drive, the app can let you pay the parking meter before you even get out of your car in over 400 cities.
Google Pay and the web
One thing the Google Pay app has shifted away from is the web browser. While you can still go to pay.google.com, you'll find it's not quite the same service as the Google Pay app. And, Google has removed the ability to send and receive payments from your contacts through the browser as well.
Google Pay's integration with other Android apps
Google Pay can help you find more ways to use it, too. It has integration with Maps to help you know when you can use it to pay for parking when you arrive somewhere, or you can see details about your commute on busses and trains and see how to pay your fare.
Since Google is trying to help you keep track of your finances, the app can also integrate with Google Photos. This will let it automatically scan in receipts to keep that data on hand and easy to read.
You can also link your Gmail account to keep track of even more. This will let Google Pay pull in receipts, offers, tickets, loyalty cards, bills and more.
New fees to watch out for in Google Pay
One important thing changed with Google Pay that could cost you. There's now a 1.5% transaction fee (or $0.31 minimum) when you instantly transfer money out to a debit card from your Google Pay account, 9to5Google points out. This can cost you if you always want to transfer quickly. Otherwise, you can avoid the fee by transferring to your bank account and waiting 1-3 business days for the transfer to complete.