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Google gets into prepaid market

By David McMillin · Bankrate.com
Monday, November 25, 2013
Posted: 3 pm ET

If you're comparing prepaid cards, you can expect to find a new name in your search. Google, the California-based search-engine giant, has unveiled the new Google Wallet Card. It's a physical companion to the tech company's mobile payment system, Google Wallet.

Google's original objective with Wallet seemed to be to simplify an individual user's life by combining all credit card and debit card info in one mobile banking app. The program touted the ability to "leave the plastic cards behind." Rather than digging through an actual wallet and swiping a real card, Wallet replaced the traditional in-store retail hassles with an entirely digital experience. The launch of this physical prepaid card suggests that consumers aren't quite ready to break up with old-school shopping habits.

For those who still do want to bring those plastic cards with them everywhere they go, this prepaid card comes with some nice perks. Plenty of readers have worried about the potential for more fees with alternative banking products, but Google's offering appears to be one of the most consumer-friendly offerings on the market. There is no initial fee for the card and no monthly fee or annual fee. The card even allows free ATM withdrawals, although the ATM may charge an additional cost. The absence of these fees means that Google will be able to compete with big banks like Chase that have recently jumped on board the prepaid bandwagon.

For banks, the physical prepaid card carries another important distinction: Google Wallet customers no longer need a bank account at all.

"Now, you can use the new Google Wallet Card to spend money instantly, either by purchasing in stores or withdrawing cash at ATMs, without having to wait for money to transfer from your Google Wallet balance to your bank account," a blog on the Google Commerce website reads.

While the card seems like it will appeal to many consumers in the United States, international travelers will want to steer clear of the Google Wallet Card for now. It currently cannot be used outside the U.S.

What do you think of this new alternative to banking? Will you add Google Wallet to your physical and digital personal finances?

 

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