When you need to pay for the plethora of services Google now want money for, you can use Google Pay. The service works like Venmo too; letting you send or ask for money from friends, as well as paying for in-app services or even use it in shops and restaurants that are set up for it through your Android phone or a watch that runs Wear OS. As much as the multitude uses are great, the real benefit is that it’s a lot safer and quicker than using an actual debit or credit card.

2018 saw Google Pay fully replace Android Pay and Google Wallet in 2018, a new system that doesn’t hand over your card details to retailers and restaurants. Rather than hand over your details to everyone, the people you pay get a token called a virtual account number whilst your card details are securely kept on Google’s servers.

First, we’ll run through how you actually get Google Pay set up and working and then how to make use of it when shopping online, in stores, and paying at a restaurant. Next we’ll go into how you add it to your Gmail and get loyalty memberships added to your account, along with transit passes and gift cards. There’s a video with a step by step guide that you can also watch, below.

Get Google Pay Set Up

To get started, you need to download the Google Pay app.

  1. Go into Google Play and download and install the app.
  2. Tap on the newly installed app and then the Get Started button.
  3. You now want to tap on Connect to Gmail. This will open a new window that’s asking for permission for the app to get your device’s location.
  4. The app wants your location so it can give you a notification when you’re somewhere that you can use Google Pay or your loyalty cards. If you want this feature, tap the Turn On button that you’ll see on the bottom of the page.
  5. You’ll see four tabs at the bottom of the page: Home, Payment, Passes and Send. To add a card, select the Payment tab and the Add Payment Method option The other option is to start from the Home tab. There’s a section called Pay With Your Phone in Stores, select this and go to the Set It Up button. For those who already have a card registered with Google – for Google Play or other Google services – the app will ask if you want to add that card to Google Pay. It might seem a little scary to see your details already there, but it’s pretty useful too.
  6. It’s fine if you want to add a new card to Google Pay instead. You just need to tap for Add a New Card, hold up your card to your phone’s camera so it shows in the window on-screen. Once the camera’s scanned your details you just need to key in your expiration date and CVC number, that the one on the back of the card.
  7. After your details have been entered, hit Save at the bottom of the screen. Next comes the Terms of Service that you need to read and then tap the button to confirm – “Accept & Continue”.
  8. At this point, your bank is going to run a verification on your card, and a message will pop up saying that you’ll be able to use your lock screen for Google Pay. Once that’s all understood, tap on the Got It button towards the bottom of the screen.
  9. The final step in this process is the Verify Your Card screen. You need to pick where you want the verification number to get sent. Different cards have different options, but the main choices are to your phone or email. Select which one you want and hit Continue. Receive the number, add it to the Verification Number screen, and hit Submit.

Choose Your Default Card on Google Pay

There are options to keep multiple card details on your Google Pay, so you might want to make one card the default to use. Here’s how…

  1. On the list of your cards, tap the one that you want to make default.
  2. The card’s details will pop up on the screen, then move the slider for Default for in-store payments. You need to wait around a minute for it to turn blue. Use this time wisely and give your card a quirky name, “Million Dollar Baby” or “Money Heist”, anyone?

Using Google Pay for Shopping, Food, and Cash

You need to check the place you want to pay accepts Google Pay by looking for the wireless payment logo somewhere around the register. The symbol looks like a plate of four curved hotdogs of increasing lengths with a square piece of cheese being held over them.

Image credit: cnet.com

Once you’ve spotted the symbol, unlock your phone and hold it a few inches away from the register. Google Pay will automatically be triggered to open up with your default card. The system works just the same as Apple Pay, utilizing NFC to make a connection with the register.

It’s probably a whole new experience to pay with your phone, but there’s a load more that you can do with Google Pay, too. Want to use your phone for cash at the ATM? For those with a Chase debit card set up on your Google Pay, for example, you can go to a Chase ATM that’s equipped with a contactless reader to get cash out. You still need to tap in your PIN, but no need to fumble around for your card or forget to take it when you’re done.

Give and Get Money with Google Pay

Google Pay isn’t simply an alternative to carrying around a wallet full of plastic. In the same way that you can send and receive cash with Venmo and Zelle, you can use your Google Pay to ask your friends and family for money or send them some.

  1. To send cash, open the Messages app.
  2. Start a new message, and tap the + button.
  3. From there, tap the Google Pay popup window.
  4. Tap Continue, enter the amount you want to send and press the blue Attach money button.
  5. Within a couple of moments, you’ll get a little square come up in your message bubble that displays the total money you’ve entered. When you’re ready, just tap the Send.

Not got someone’s phone number? Gmail also works to be able to send and ask for money from people, with just a few really easy steps.

  1. Start to write a new email and tap on the paperclip if you’re on your Gmail app, or you’ll be able to click on a $ icon when working through your browser.
  2. The next step is to choose whether you want to Send Money or Request Money, then you type in the amount, add a memo, and then hit Attach Money or Attach Request.
  3. Finally, send your message.

With Google Pay, you can also send or request money from your browser.

  1. Go to pay.google.com and log in.
  2. Next, select the Send or Request Money tab.
  3. Tap Send Money or Request Money.
  4. Type in the amount you’re wanting to send or ask for, include the phone number or email or type in their name to find their contact card details to pull information from.
  5. Finally, tap Send or Request.

Using Google Pay Online

When you’re shopping online you can use Google Pay to checkout, and it also works in apps like Caviar, Starbucks, and Airbnb. Wherever you spot the Google Pay icon on web pages or in apps you just click or tap that option to check out.

Google Pay and Loyalty and Gift Cards

You can also add your loyalty or gift cards to your Google Pay wallet. There’s a whole load of merchants that have loyalty schemes that are compatible with Google Pay, like Starbucks, Walgreens, and Ikea, and even airlines like United, Delta, and American.

  1. To add a loyalty or gift card, open the Google Pay app and tap the Passes tab at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Then, tap the blue Pass button with a + sign.
  3. Next, select either Loyalty program or Gift card from the pop-up window. When the list of retailers and restaurants appears, choose the company for your card or loyalty program.
  4. To add a gift card, you’re going to be asked to enter the card’s details on screen. Adding a loyalty program, you’ll get a camera window pop open and you use your lens to scan your membership number into the app. Depending on the company, you might be able to add the numbers manually if you tap the Enter manually button that you’ll see at the bottom of the screen. Even if you haven’t signed up for a membership yet, you can sign up there and then with some companies, such as the sandwich maker Jimmy John’s.

The process isn’t quite so seamless as with adding debit and credit cards, but it’s still a useful tool to have all your gift and membership cards stored in one place. Once you’ve got them loaded, you need to know how to actually use them, so here’s the steps…

  1.  Go to the Passes tab and choose the loyalty card you want to use.
  2. Next, present the barcode to the cashier to scan. If your card doesn’t have a barcode, read your membership number to the cashier.

You can sort through and order your loyalty cards in the Passes tab on the app. You can move cards up and down your list, making the ones you use most easier to find.

Transit Systems and Google Pay

For regular transit users, you can even add your transit card or pass so you can easily board your trains, subways, and buses. There are only four cities that it works with, so far:

  • The monorail in Las Vegas
  • The TriMet, C-TRAN and Portland Streetcar with The Hop in Portland, Oregon
  • The MCAT transit system in Manatee County, Florida
  • Public transit in Melbourne and parts of Victoria, Australia, with the MYKI transit pass
  1. To add a transit card, open the Google Pay app and tap the Passes tab at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Next, tap the blue Pass button with a plus sign.
  3. You’ll get a pop-up window where you can choose Transit, this will bring up a screen that shows the transit systems that are supported, simply tap on the one you want to add. The next step depends on which system you want to use; you might get redirected to their own website or their app and that’s where you buy the tickets or passes you want.

Ready to use your ticket or pass? First, you need to wake up your phone. What comes next again depends on the transit network your accessing. Some systems will need you to unlock your phone, go into your app and choose the ticket to use. The next step is to hold your phone to the card reader and wait for the blue checkmark to flash on the screen.

Finding Transaction Data on Google Pay

With Google getting so much information about who you are and what you do with Google Pay, it’s interesting to understand what data is being collected about you when you use it. Turns out, Google uses your transaction data from Google Pay to:

  • Make your transactions actually process
  • Give you a history of your transactions
  • Fix any issues you get with your Google Pay
  • Offer you extra Google Pay features

Simple as that may sound, that last little point, “extra Google Pay features”, leaves the door gaping open to give you targeted adverts. Anyone using Gmail has pretty much accepted that as their fate anyway.

Patrick Holland wrote the original version of the article for cnet.