How to pay, send, receive money using Google Pay

All you need to know about security, privacy and funding options within Google Pay

Google Pay guide

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When someone says “Google,” you probably think “web search.” But the tech giant wants you to think about peer-to-peer payments and shopping, too.

The latest incarnation of Google Pay combines a mobile wallet with a peer-to-peer payment system – and replacing what used to be Google Wallet and Android Pay.

Depending on how you set it up, you can use it to shop with retailers and e-tailers, send and receive money among friends and family, split a check at the table – or all of the above.

Want to learn more? Here are some of the basics on Google Pay.

See related: 3 major mobile payment security risks, and how to avoid them

What is Google Pay?

"Google Pay is an easy way for anyone with a Google account – Gmail, Chrome, YouTube, etc. – to be able to pay online and in stores and also send money to friends and family," says Gerardo Capiel, product management director for Google Pay.

How do you set up Google Pay?

You go online to Google Pay or download the app – available for both Android and iPhone devices.

Some bank apps may also include Google Pay. Call your bank to ask if they offer Google Pay as part of their mobile banking tools.

Then you create an account.

  • Supply your name, email address or phone number, and birthdate.
  • If you're using it as a peer-to-peer system, you also give your physical address.
  • Then you link your Google Pay account to a bank account, credit card or debit card.
  • You also can link Google Pay to your PayPal account to use with retail purchases in some online and brick-and-mortar stores.

One caveat: Your choice of financial tool will determine what you can (and can't) do with Google Pay. If you link to a:

  • Debit card: You can use the account to shop online or in stores, as well as send and receive money from individuals.
  • Bank account: You can only send or receive money from individuals. No shopping allowed.
  • Credit card: You can shop with merchants online or at brick-and-mortar locations, but you can't send or receive money from individuals
  • PayPal account: You can shop at participating retailers or online through Chrome or within apps.

The type of financial tool you use with any brand of peer-to-peer payment account “makes a big difference in terms of your rights with fraud and disputing payments,” says John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud for the National Consumers League.

And if you link your Google Pay account to a debit card, “it may be tough to dispute,” he adds.

See related: Debit cards versus credit cards: Know the differences

Is money protected against loss, fraud and theft?

When you use Google Pay, the other party or merchant doesn't receive your actual credit or debit card number, says Capiel. Instead, they receive a one-time-use number that works only for the transaction. Known as tokenization, it can protect your card if the merchant or payee is breached.

When it comes to regulations that protect you from fraud and theft, Google Pay is the conduit through which you use a bank account, debit card, credit card or PayPal account. So, whatever protections are in place for those financial instruments still apply if you access them through Google Pay.

  • Consider how you want to use your Google Pay account, as well as what payment options you feel most secure using online.
  • Credit cards often offer $0 liability in cases of theft or fraud. They also give you dispute rights.
  • With debit cards and bank accounts, the legal liability for theft or fraud is $50 – if you report the loss within two days of discovery. But you may be without that money until the bank investigates. And if the bank decides you're at fault, you take the loss.
  • When you use a peer-to-peer payment service, there are no guaranteed ways to retrieve money once it's sent. So, you need to carefully vet the recipient's address or phone number before the transaction, as well as proofread every part of the transaction several times before you hit send.

Google Pay's app "does warn you when you're sending to someone who’s not in your contact list," says Capiel.

In addition, the Google Pay service shows the sender the final sending amount so they can verify or reject it.

And, "depending on how the recipient has it set up to receive the money, you may have some time to cancel the send," says Capiel.

If those solutions don't work, and you've sent money to the wrong person or in the incorrect amount, Google Pay urges users to call its customer service center and their bank, he says.

Tip

Tip: Financial institutions can take the position that if you sent money (even to the wrong person or in the wrong amount), you authorized the transaction. Consumer advocates differ on whether that's the case.

If you have a problem getting money restored from your financial institution, you can file a complaint or ask for guidance through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and your state attorney general's office, says Lauren Saunders, associate director for the National Consumer Law Center.

And if the problem involves someone else using your identity or account, you can contact the Identity Theft Resource Center.

How much does it cost to use Google Pay?

"Google does not charge fees," says Capiel.

However, before you set up Google Pay, call the issuer of the card or bank account you plan to use and ask about any potential fees the financial institution could charge.

How quickly does the other party receive money sent through Google Pay?

That depends on which payment device you've linked to your account.

  • If you're using a debit card, typically "it's within minutes," says Capiel.
  • With a bank account, "it really depends on the bank," he says. "We typically say it takes one or two days."
  • With a credit card or PayPal, you can't send money to an individual through Google Pay.

See related: Is PayPal safe? 10 security tips to protect yourself

What's the difference between Google Pay and Google Wallet?

What used to be called Google Wallet has been combined with Android Pay – and is now called Google Pay.

At present, Google Pay offers apps for Android and Apple. The one difference: iPhone users can't employ the app for in-store purchases – in which case, Apple Pay may be an alternative

See related: Guide to mobile wallets: Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay

 

Are Google Pay transactions public?

No. Unlike Venmo, Google Pay doesn't have a social media component. Only the sender and receiver (and their banks or credit card issuers), know about the transaction.

How can you protect yourself when using Google Pay?

When it comes to dealing with individuals and peer-to-peer payments, you only want to send money to people you know and trust.

Scammers are already altering old cons to fit new technology, says Alexandra Hamilton, digital communications coordinator for the Identity Theft Resource Center.

Always independently verify any request for payment. And never use a peer-to-peer service to pay for goods you haven’t yet received.

"Be really careful who you’re sending money to," says Breyault.

Can users earn credit card rewards and loyalty points through Google Pay?

Yes. If you link your Google Pay account to a rewards credit card, you'll still earn those rewards.

As far as the credit card and merchant are concerned, you're paying with your credit card, so you get any rewards or cash back that card awards for purchases from that merchant, says Capiel.

That said, you might want to read the fine print on special promotions run by your credit card when it comes to paying with a mobile wallet.

  • Some Amex Offers included in American Express's card-linked offers program, for example, stipulate you should pay directly with your card – and not through a mobile wallet or third-party website such as a cash back site – to be eligible for the offer.
  • At the same time, some issuers, like Chase, sometimes give additional rewards for using a mobile wallet like Google Pay.
  • From January through March 2018, for example, Chase included Apple Pay, Chase Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay in Chase Freedom's quarterly bonus categories. Purchases made using a mobile wallet during that quarter earned 5 percent cash back.
  • You can also add Google Pay to apps with loyalty rewards programs, such as Starbucks and Walgreens.

So when you use Google Pay to make your purchase, your loyalty rewards are automatically added to your account.

"They can add many other types of loyalty cards," Capiel says. "It's another great way to save money."

See related: How to choose a P2P payment service

Does Google Pay offer its own cards?

Not in the U.S. However, in some other countries, Google Pay uses a contactless card for real-world transactions instead of a phone app.

Do I need extra security when using Google Pay?

If your phone is now your wallet, you need wallet-level security.

A few easy moves:

  • Make sure your phone is password protected, whether you use a PIN, a fingerprint or password, says Hamilton. And make sure its a unique PIN or password – not the one you use everywhere else.
  • Also, shorten the length of time your phone has to idle before it locks, says Hamilton. That way, if you leave it somewhere and someone grabs it, you lessen the amount of time they have to rob you.
  • When you want to use Google Pay, "typically, you log in with email address," says Capiel. He also urges users to take advantage of two-factor authentication – with a phone number and email address.
  • Use anti-malware and anti-virus protection on devices and keep it updated, says Breyault. And employ two-factor authentication not just with any peer-to-peer payment system itself, but also with any email address you associate with that service.
  • Contact your card issuer to add an extra PIN or two-factor authentication on the financial account you’ll use for P2P payments and within mobile wallets. And ask what security measures it can offer.

See related: How to protect your cards and accounts online

Tip

Tip: Disable overdraft protection on whatever funding source (bank account, debit card), you use with P2P payment systems and mobile wallets. That way, you’re certain it will stop working when your account hits $0.

Also, disable any automatic reload features on apps or accounts you use or link to a mobile wallets.

Says Hamilton, “The more you can do, the better.”


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Updated: 03-18-2019