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    georgeMy wallet is a mess of old receipts, loyalty cards, and bankcards—in fact, you could probably say that I have a less extreme version of George Costanza’s wallet. At times, it looks more like a pocket-sized “murse” full of junk that I’ve neglected to throw away rather than a wallet. Maybe I’ll need that “10% off” coupon to Guitar Center that excludes everything in the damn store, or perhaps I’ll actually call that girl’s number that I scribbled on a napkin. For guys like Costanza and me, we’re the perfect candidates for Google Wallet.

    While you’ve probably heard of it, Google Wallet has been around for a few years but it’s not really in the spotlight anymore. Why? Well, for one, some people are still using flip phones—yes, I am talking about you, Dana White. Another reason is because many businesses have been slow to adopt NFC (near field communication) devices, the magical technology behind Google Wallet’s mobile payment feature.

    Despite Google Wallet’s slow adoption to the masses, there are some really cool things you can do with the app, some of which are old features while others are new. So if your back is killing you from sitting on that fatty wallet all day, Google Wallet might be the solution you’ve been looking for.

    Three Things You Need to Know about Google Wallet

    google-wallet1. Pay by Phone

    You don’t always need your debit card or cash to pay for things anymore. With Google Wallet, you can quickly and easily make a purchase by using your Android or iOS device for quicker and more convenient checkout. Simply place your phone to the card reader, punch in your four-digit PIN number, and Google Wallet instantly withdraws money from your bank account like a card transaction.

    It’s important to note that Google Wallet can only be used at locations that have PayPass-enabled terminals, and of course you have to have a smartphone with NFC capability. So if there isn’t a MasterCard® Paypass™ logo at the checkout area, then don’t wave your phone at the card reader like a dumbass and expect anything to happen—except maybe to get a blank stare from the checkout clerk.

    But don’t worry, there’s an app for that too. The MasterCard PayPass Locator app will tell you where you can find businesses that have PayPass.

    2. Google Wallet Card

    If you’re shopping at a place that doesn’t support PayPass, then you can use the Google Wallet Card. This card allows you to consolidate all of your bankcards into a single debit card and it can be used at any MasterCard® location. Just like a traditional bankcard, you can use the Google Wallet Card to withdraw cash from ATMs and you can get cash-back with purchases.

    When you download the Google Wallet app, you don’t automatically receive a Google Wallet Card. You still have to request one from inside the app or by going to wallet.google.com/cardRequest. There are no additional fees to order or activate the card. Once you receive the Google Wallet Card, you can transfer money to it from your bank account or you can link it to a credit or debit card

    3. Send Money with Gmail

    You know that $20 your buddy still owes you because he stupidly bet against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl? Well, instead of trying to get cash from him, he can transfer that money to you directly from a Gmail account if he has Google Wallet. Simply go into Gmail, hover over the paperclip, and click on the $ icon to attach money. After the money has been sent, the funds should appear in your Google Wallet Balance.

    A word of caution: When you send money with Gmail, the recipient must sign up for Google Wallet in order to claim the funds. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this. If you’ve bought anything on Google Play, then you probably have a Google Wallet account already. Also, Google Wallet is only available in the U.S., so you have to be careful about whom you send money to in your Google contacts.

    Google Wallet: Is it a better way to shop?

    So now that you know the facts, it raises the question: Is Google Wallet a better way to shop? As a 28 year-old copywriter who saves every penny for music gear, I’m likely to stick with my Costanza wallet (at least for now). Don’t get me wrong, I love Google—but there’s something unsettling about giving them access to my bank account. I haven’t broken the habit of logging out of my Gmail, and it makes me nervous to think that someone could easily take my money with the tap of a button. Also, I might be more inclined to use Google Wallet if everyone had PayPass, but that’s not the case either.

    Am I crazy for thinking this way? What are your thoughts? Would you use Google Wallet or are you currently using it?

    *Image courtesy of Seinfeld; Castle Rock Entertainment Productions, Columbia Pictures Television, Columbia TriStar Television, & Sony Pictures Television