If there’s one thing Google Wallet has really been doing well, it’s keeping us guessing. A few months back, and we worried that Wallet was on the way out, with new Nexus models arriving without the appearance of Wallet support and long-rumored features like that physical Wallet card reportedly killed-off. But then Android 4.4 arrived, and we saw what’s arguably the biggest improvement to Wallet to date, as Google divorced its functionality from reliance on a phone’s secure element, potentially making the service available on phones that were previously unusable. Today we get another welcome surprise, as that Google Wallet card returns from out of nowhere, available for order now.
So what’s the point of a card, with Wallet now compatible with more phones than ever before? Simply put, not every merchant is currently set up to accept wireless payments, and the card lets you draw from your Wallet balance even when NFC’s not available.
However, not everything about how this works is immediately clear. For instance, Google makes numerous references to the card drawing money from your Wallet balance – for instance, funds friends might have sent you – but doesn’t plainly spell out whether or not the Google Wallet card can pull funds directly from linked credit cards, like you can with the Wallet app. We can understand why that might not be, as there would be no way to choose which particular card funds should be drawn from if you’ve got multiple accounts all linked, but for now the page of Wallet FAQs still doesn’t address the card.
Still, it’s free, so if you’re a big Wallet user it might be worth requesting one just to have a chance to give it a spin sometime.