I like the Google Card. I like the idea of a prepaid card, which is not directly linked to my checking/savings account. Needless to say, I am a heavy user of the Google Wallet card. I carry no cash. I have been using the Google Wallet Card for my everyday spending, coffee, breakfast, coffee, lunch, coffee…you get the idea.
Imagine my surprise when a notification from Google came across my screen which read, in part…
…After careful consideration, we’ve decided that we’ll no longer support the Wallet Card as of June 30….
Say Whaaa-aat?? I was stunned. I have used the card since it came out two years ago. In my humble opinion, this is one of the few things that Google has gotten right, shit-can that Android Pay (I’ve never used that – I don’t trust it), I want to keep the card. What I found so delightful about the card was…
- It was always a conversation starter. “That’s cool…where’d you get that?” is usually how the conversation got started, and from there I’d tout the advantages of the card.
- You have to physically load the card from an app. No money – no honey. If the money wasn’t there; the transaction didn’t go through. I like that.
- Built in security. There is no direct link to my checking account. If the card get’s stolen, they’ll only get what I’ve loaded. Which, as far as I know, is unlike a debit card where the little bastards can clean out your account before you can say…”hey, what the…”
- No Fees. Nadda, Zip, Nothing. Zero.
The great, consumer conscience leaders of Google did make a couple of recommendations.
- American Express Serve. As a service to Google wallet users, once you deposit $500; they’ll give you $20. Gee, thanks. Based upon the fee structure..it’ll only take four months to have that eaten, as American Express charges $5.95 a month for the “privilege” of using their service. If you want to use the card overseas, that’ll run you an additional 2.7% per transaction. Their app has good reviews. The monthly fee is a show stopper for me.
- Simple. Never heard of it before today. Simple will give you $20 just for joining them (provided you’re coming over from Google). At first glance, I thought, “Hey, this might work.” But then I read it may take up to three days for deposits to clear. Google wallet was roughly a minute or two.
- There is a lot to like about this pre-paid option; but it is a bank. It is connected (I think) directly to your account; which is a non-starter for me. If anyone out there knows of this card, let me know what you think.
Neither of the two options above really fit my situation. I use the card to manage my weekly “mad” money. Money that I can just blow on me. For me, it is important to have almost instantaneous reload and for the card to be secure (i.e. not directly linked to my checking/savings).
- I did stumble across another option though. A little known card (to me), called Bluebird. This card is also from, ready for this; American Express. This card has no fees however. A feature I like is the Personal Financial management feature. I can set limits so that I will only be so much coffee (Simple had a similar feature).
For a comparison and good reading, check out Consumer Reports, November, 2014 edition. If you are planning to use the prepaid card in addition to a bank account, I’d refer you to page 9. If you’re looking to replace your bank, I’d refer you to page 11. I will have to make the switch prior to June 30th.
A note of caution: Prepaid cards are not for everyone, and there are places where one shouldn’t be used. Avoid using a prepaid card where the merchant is likely to put a hold on your money. Try not to use prepaid cards to buy gas at the pump or to pay for hotels or rental cars. These types of companies can put extra holds on your card for a certain amount of time. During this time, you won’t be able to use all of your money.
Some history of why Google created the card to begin with. A part of me wishes that this is just a bad April Fools joke. But I know it’s not. So, because Google has decided to end a good thing, they are my selection for Asshole of the Month for March 2016.
Congratulations Google; you’re the Asshole of the Month!!