Want a physical Google Wallet card for payments? You can order one directly from Google at no charge. The card with a traditional magnetic stripe is backed by Bankcorp and uses the balance in your Google Wallet account when swiped at the point of sale. So is it a better option than Coin, the hottest new credit card that actually acts as numerous cards? Probably not because of a key limitation.
Essentially, since payments come from your Google Wallet account balance, this card is more like a pre-paid debit card. Google says you can fund your balance with a credit card, but there’s a 2.9 percent transaction fee, so few will likely take advantage of that function. You can also add funds at no charge from a linked bank account.
I’d think the card would be more practical to most people if it worked like the NFC-enabled Google Wallet app. In that case, you can pick which of several cards — debit or credit — are used for transactions. There seems to be no similar option here.
Still, I ordered a Google Wallet card and it should arrive within 12 days so I’ll test it out. My ultimate goal is to carry fewer — if any — payment cards, not more of them. This won’t help me achieve that for now, but perhaps the product will mature over time. After all, the Google Wallet of today isn’t the same as the wireless Google Wallet I used two years ago on my phone when refueling my car. The approach has changed multiple times since then and is now even challenged in the U.S. by Isis.