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How to use Google Wallet, step by step

LaptopMag offers a play-by-play walk through of Google Wallet.

By Mark SpoonauerLaptopMag.com / September 20, 2011

Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief, uses Google Wallet in a Duane Reade.

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I’ll never forget the first time I used Google Wallet to pay for something. I was at Duane Reade, where I just picked up some hand sanitizer. When I got up to the check-out counter, I just whipped out the Samsung Nexus S 4G, held it up to the PayPass reader, and voila, payment accepted. The woman behind the counter looked at me suspiciously and asked “What did you just do?” Well, I guess you could say we both experienced the future of payments. I quickly explained to the sales clerk that I was participating in a trial of Google Wallet, a new app that enables users to tap to pay at hundreds of thousands of locations, as well as store loyalty cards and gift cards and redeem deals. Granted, Google Wallet is only available on a single smartphone at the moment, but as more Android handsets roll out with NFC support, this app could be a big deal. Here’s what it’s like to use Google Wallet in the real world.

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Payment Options and Adding funds

For now, Google Wallet integrates directly only with Citi MasterCard cards, but you can also add funds from any debit or credit card to a Google Prepaid Card. Since we don’t have a MasterCard, we added $20 to the prepaid card by filling in the info for our debit card, along with our billing address and phone number. The process took just a couple of minutes, but it’s pretty annoying to have to refill your card. The good news is that Google has licensed the NFC specs for American Express, Discover, and Visa, though the company has not announced a partnership with those credit card companies.

Finding Tap and Pay Locations

You’ll know if the store you’re shopping in supports Google Wallet if you see a MasterCard PayPass logo and/or a logo illustration that looks like a person holding a credit card up to a wireless signal. But, if you want to know before you go, you should use PayPass Locator app, which helps you find PayPass locations near you.

Near our downtown New York City office, the app found 23 locations that were within fairly close walking distance, which are displayed on a map. The app provides an icon for each location to make it easier to discern the type of business it is without you having to tap on it. For example, the Rx icon is for pharmacies–which is how we found Duane Reade–and Best Buy had a shopping cart icon. Malibu Diner had a burger and drink icon.

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