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Google Wallet vs Google Pay: What’s the difference?

Google is known for its confusingly named products, and that might be most apparent with Google Wallet and Google Pay. These two apps have taken a complicated path to get to where they are today. So which one should you use?

Both Google Wallet and Google Pay have seen some pretty drastic revamps over the years. Their purposes have changed a lot and confused many people in the process. Let’s take a look at what each has to offer.

a complicated story

Google Pay and Wallet logos.

You may be surprised to learn that the original version of Google Wallet was introduced back in 2011. The service was primarily for sending money to people and there was also a physical Google Wallet credit card.

The Google Wallet card allowed people to pay for things in physical stores and online with the funds in their account. This was before tap-to-pay mobile payments were widely supported. The wallet card was a very clever solution.

Eventually, tap to pay gained enough traction that Google launched Android Pay in 2015. It kept Google Wallet and Android Pay separate until 2018, when the two were combined into a single service called “Google Pay.” The Wallet card was discontinued in 2016.

Then in 2020, Google Pay got a massive overhaul with loads of new features. All of Google’s mobile payment services were under one umbrella…for a while. In the summer of 2022, the service was split in two, and the Google Wallet brand returned.

That’s how things stand as of September 2022. Google Pay and Google Wallet exist as two separate products, sometimes. More on that later.

RELATED: Massive Google Pay overhaul wants to replace your wallet and your bank

What is Google Wallet?

Google

Google Wallet can be most easily summed up by its name: it is a digital wallet. You can add credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, transportation passes, event tickets, vaccination cards, and gift cards.

Basically, Google Wallet is for paying for things online and in physical stores with tap to pay. It has a very simple interface that shows your cards, tickets and passes. Google Wallet is only available for Android since the iPhone doesn’t allow non-Apple apps to tap and pay.

Google Wallet can generally be used with any card reader that has Apple Wallet, Google Pay, or the touch icon to pay contactless. For online purchases, look for the Google Pay or Google Wallet buttons at checkout. It will take some time for the Wallet brand to replace Google Pay.

What is Google Pay?

google pay
Google

Google Pay received a massive overhaul in 2020, and now it’s pretty much the same experience. Tap-to-pay functionality is still present in Google Pay, but that’s not the only thing it can do.

The Google Pay app has peer-to-peer payments, shopping offers, cash back offers, and a full banking experience with personal financial information. You can think of Pay as a combination of services similar to we sell, PayPal, RetailMeNotY mint.

Unlike Google Wallet, Google Pay is available on both Android other iPhone. The tap-to-pay functionality doesn’t work on the iPhone, but the other features do. It’s a feature-packed app that tries to do a lot of things. In fact, it may be too much for some people, which is why Google Wallet exists.

RELATED: What is Google Pay and what can you do with it?

Which App Should You Use?

Depending on where you live, you may not even need to decide which app to use. Google Pay and Google Wallet only coexist in the US and Singapore. In all other countriesGoogle Wallet completely replaced Google Pay and India has no Wallet at all (as of September 2022).

Google Pay can do everything Google Wallet can, but Google Wallet can’t do everything Google Pay can. If you’re in a country that has both, you can choose between the full experience (Pay) or just mobile payments (Wallet). There is no reason to have both.

Use Google Pay if you want peer-to-peer payments, offers and rewards, or personal finance tools. If you’re only interested in mobile payments, Google Wallet is a much more streamlined experience for that. The choice is even easier for iPhone users: Google Pay is the only option.

To close, Google Wallet is for mobile payments, Google Pay is for mobile payments and more. It’s not as complicated as you might think, but Google certainly isn’t helping your case.

RELATED: How to send money to someone with Google Pay


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