What Is Google Pay? And How Does It Work?

Written by Justin EstesUpdated: 29th Sep 2021
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Managing your spending can be a hassle. You need to worry about your credit and debit cards, as well as any extra cash you may have.

It is important to have a tab on all your payment methods more than ever because many companies opt for a more digital form of payment.

When considering payment options, Google Pay may stand out to you because of its safe payments and variety of features.

Whether it’s sending money to friends and family or managing your credit and debit cards, Google Pay is a solid option for digital payments.

What Is Google Pay?

Google Pay is a very well-known digital payment service for Android users. It was made in 2018 when Google Wallet and Android Pay joined together to create Google Pay.

The app allows you to use your mobile device to digitally and safely make payments and send money to other people.

Simply download the app and add your payment method to shop anywhere that takes Google Pay.

How Does Google Pay Work?

Google Pay allows you to pay online, in person, or to transfer money with friends and family.

The app also lets you connect multiple debit or credit cards so that you can pay with whatever method benefits you the most.

If you are using an iOS device, Google Pay will only work with online payments, so you will need an Android device if you want to purchase items in the store.

How to Set Up Google Pay

Google Pay is a very easy payment option to set up, and many Android devices already have it downloaded.

To set up Google Pay, follow the steps provided.

  1. If the app is not already downloaded on your device, go to the Google Play store, search “Google Pay,” and download it.
  2. Once the app is downloaded, you will need to sign in to your Google account.
  3. Next, you need to attach a payment method. This can be your credit card, debit card, PayPal, or U.S. bank account (or all of them). To attach your card to your account, select “credit or debit card” as the payment method. The app allows you to take a photo of the card’s details; however, you can always input the information manually.
  4. At this point, you will need to verify your information. You will be prompted to choose your preferred verification methods, such as an email or text. Once you have done this, your Google Pay account is ready to be used.
  5. To make in-store purchases with Google Pay, you will need to check if your mobile device has the near-field communication (NFC) feature.

Which Countries Support Google Pay?

  • Austria
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Does Google Pay Charge Any Fees?

Whether you are using your debit card to make a purchase or you are sending money to friends and family, Google Pay will not charge you any fees.

However, it’s possible that when using your credit card, the card issuer will consider your payment a card-present transaction and potentially charge a 4% fee to the merchant.

The merchant could then pass that fee to the customers, where you might pay up to 6% if you pay with your credit card through Google Pay.

>> More: The Best Online Banks

Is Google Pay secure?

Google Pay is actually safer than many other forms of payments because of the NFC technology.

The app makes a new virtual account number used specifically for that purchase for every payment made with Google Pay. All your information is securely kept on your phone.

Google Pay Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Little to no fees
  • Widely accepted throughout the world
  • Secure transactions
  • Supports many banks
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Limited features on iOS devices.
  • Not many rewards
  • Not accepted by every company
  • The potential credit card fee

Best Credit Cards for Google Pay

Since Google Pay requires an attached bank account or credit card, let’s review some of the top choices you can link to your account.

Depending on your spending habits, you could earn tons of points and rewards by utilizing the best credit card for your lifestyle:

#1. Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred Card is an excellent payment option to connect your Google Pay account with due to the great cash back rewards.

The card has an annual fee of $95; however, the first year’s annual fee is waived.

The card has various rewarding cash back rates, including 6% on certain U.S. streaming services, 6% at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 in one year, and many more cash back opportunities.

To top it all off, the Blue Cash Preferred Card has a notable welcoming bonus. You can earn 20% back for purchases on Amazon.com in the first six months, up to $200 back.

Additionally, you can earn back $150 if you spend $3,000 with the card in the first six months of your Card Membership.

With a 0% intro APR, the Blue Cash Preferred Card is a great cash back option for everyday purchases.

#2. Citi® Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash Card is another great card to link your Google Pay to because of the excellent cash back rewards.

The card offers unlimited 1% cash back as you make purchases and another 1% when you pay off those purchases.

The Citi Double Cash Card has no annual fee; however, there isn’t a welcoming bonus either, so this card may not be for those who want bonus earning potential over anything else.

Overall, this card is great for everyday use and offers notable cash back rewards, making it a great option for Google Pay.

#3. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a cheaper alternative to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and pairs well with Google Pay.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a $95 annual fee but comes with many bonuses and rewards for stores that accept Google Pay.

With this card, you can earn 2x points on worldwide dining and travel, as well as 5x points on Lyft.

Also, if you’re a new cardholder and you spend $4,000 in the first three months, you can earn an additional 100,000 points.

This card also provides new cardholders with a free DashPass subscription for at least a year. Because of the numerous rewards and bonuses, this is an excellent card to link with your Google Pay.

How Does Google Pay Compare to Other Services?

Peer-to-peer money transfer services (like TransferWise or Zelle) revolutionized personal finance because they made paying people and receiving payments easier than ever before.

Splitting bills, compensating for work, and treating friends no longer required cash or checks, and all you need to pay someone now is their phone number or profile.

Since there are so many payment services on the market today, let’s see how Google Pay compares to its competitors:

#1. Google Pay vs. Apple Pay

Both Google Pay and Apple Pay allow you to conveniently make payments and earn rewards; however, Apple Pay is restricted to iOS users, whereas any device can use Google Pay.

However, Google Pay’s features are limited on iOS devices; for instance, you can only purchase items online through Google Pay with an iPhone.

Both apps offer similar benefits, so you should choose the app that correlates to your mobile device so you can get the most out of the app.

#2. Google Pay vs. Samsung Pay

You should consider Samsung Pay as another payment method, with features like cash back rewards and peer-to-peer money transfers.

What makes Samsung Pay stand out compared to other apps is that you can use it at almost all point-of-sale systems.

However, you will need to find locations that specifically accept it for you to make in-store purchases with Google Pay.

Google Pay can be used in more countries than Samsung Pay; however, it is much easier to make peer-to-peer transactions with Google Play.

Also, Samsung Pay is only available to those with Galaxy devices, whereas most mobile devices can use Google Pay.

#3. Venmo vs. Google Pay

Unlike Google Pay, Venmo mainly acts as peer-to-peer money transferring service, with almost no purchasing options.

Despite that, Venmo is a great way to send money to friends and family while avoiding cash or checks.

If you are strictly looking for a peer-to-peer app, then Venmo is a great option. However, Google Pay does offer more features, such as online and in-store purchases, as well as peer-to-peer money transferring.

#4. Cash App vs. Google Pay

Cash App is unique in that it acts as an all-in-one financial service, allowing you to manage banking, spending, money transfer, and basic investing.

Cash App’s wide variety of functions makes it a notable option for those seeking to keep their finances under one roof.

Although Cash App is an easy-to-use app with many features, it does have its limits. Unlike Google Pay, it cannot be used internationally, and it isn’t as widely accepted as a payment option as Google Pay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There a Fee for Google Pay?

No – Google Pay does not charge any fees to use its service. However, if the card issuer decides the payment is a card-present transaction, there is a potential credit card fee. Other than that, though, the app is free to use.

Is Google Pay Safe to Use?

Yes, it is important to note that there is no completely secure payment method, but Google Pay is one of the most secure options available.

When you make a payment with Google Pay, the app will create a virtual account number just for that transaction.

This prevents your card details from being stolen, allowing you to confidently make purchases without having to worry.

Is Google Pay or Apple Pay Better?

Neither app is necessarily better than the other; however, some benefits depend on which mobile device you use.

For instance, Android users will find that Google Pay is the better choice because they are able to utilize all the features, like online and in-store purchases, whereas iOS devices can’t.

On the other hand, Apple users will find Apple Pay to be the better choice because of the various benefits tailored to their Apple device.

Overall, both apps are excellent, but the best choice for you will be determined by what device you own.

Bottom Line: What Is Google Pay?

Google Pay is a secure method for making digital purchases or transferring money with friends and family.

With the app, you can earn all the rewards using your debit and credit cards without taking them from your wallet.

This reduces any risk of losing your cards or having them stolen while also making your life easier.

Justin Estes
Justin Estes

Justin Estes is a Senior Personal Finance Writer who is a recognized small business accountant, consultant, and credit card expert. His background in accounting and finance led to a passion for helping people make the most of their money and matching them with financial products that enhance their lifestyle. Justin attended Charleston Southern University where he double-majored in Finance and Accounting. Justin’s areas of expertise are credit cards, small business finance, accounting, and taxes.