If you’ve really been wanting to use Google Wallet but are bummed because your device doesn’t have NFC, you still might be in luck. Google has silently begun offering their new Google Wallet Card and it’s accepted everywhere MasterCard is (unlike tap-to-pay).
The Google Wallet Card works the same way as a normal pre-paid debit card. When swiped the card will take the funds from your Wallet balance, or you can withdraw cash through an ATM. Adding funds via bank account is free, but adding funds through a connected credit card will cost some money. Essentially what we’re looking at here is Google’s answer to PayPal (which also offers a free debit card upon request) or those prepaid credit cards you see all the time at grocery stores.
It’s easy to request a card and best of all it’s free. Just login to wallet.google.com and at the top of the page you’ll be greeted with a banner to request the new Wallet Card for yourself. Google says it takes up to about 12 days to receive it in the mail, after which you’ll need to activate it through the site or via the Wallet app. Sorry to our overseas friends, this is US-only for now.
UPDATE: Turns out, in its current state, the card will only use your remaining Google Wallet balance when making purchases. This means if your balance is $0.00, the card will come back as declined. This is very much different from the app, which will use the primary credit card you have set up on Google Wallet once Google Wallet funds have been exhausted. But we still have hope…
According to Googler Jeff Craig — who’s been using the Google Wallet Card for quite sometime now (working at Google has its perks) — his version of the card acts just like the app, using the remaining Google Wallet balance before switching over to the primary card on file. This is much how the PayPal debit card works (after adding your bank account), and it’s odd to not see this “feature” in the Google Wallet Card.
It’s entirely possible Google will change the way the Wallet Card works in the future, but until then, it’s nothing more than a pre-paid credit (read: kinda lame). We’ll let you know if we hear more.