8 New Google Pay App Features Just in Time for Holiday Shopping

The Google Pay app just received a major upgrade. A suite of new features will take Google Pay from a digital wallet to a full-fledged money managing app. With the latest version of the app, you’ll be able to earn rewards (like cash back) on purchases, send payments (like Venmo), score deals from major retailers and eventually manage a digital bank account. 

Previously, the Google Pay app was simply a payment service like PayPal or Apple Pay that used your connected cards or accounts to complete purchases. Now, Google is expanding to offer all-encompassing services for more avenues of your financial life. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Google Pay features.

1. Rewards and cash back

Similar to a credit card, you can earn rewards on all kinds of payments — including bills — as well as cash for a percentage of your purchases through Google Pay and your linked credit card. Simply, Google is making it easier for you to clip coupons to your account and keep tabs on which ones you’ve used.

Image Credit: Google

2. Transportation perks

Google Pay is working with Conoco, ExxonMobil, Shell, Phillips 66, and 76 to unlock gas-station related perks. You’ll be able to search for nearby gas stations, see their fuel prices and pay for your gas through the Google Pay app — currently compatible with over 30,000 gas stations across the nation. Additionally, you can pay for street parking with Google Pay in over 400 cities. 

3. Group payments

You can now use Google Pay to send, request and receive money from friends or family. The app will also help do the math if you’re splitting a bill or trying to figure out who owes what. You can also create groups, like with your roommates, and have monthly rent split evenly.

Image Credit: Google

4. Offers from retailers

Loyalty cards, offers, discounts and sales from your favorite retailers are all organized in one place. Offers from major retailers like Target, Safeway, Albertsons and Sprouts will appear in the app. According to a Google spokesperson, “Google’s research indicated that users feel overwhelmed with the amount of emails and information that they receive from these merchants.” The Google Pay app will have a dedicated space for merchant-related transactions and communication to manage all that information. 

Image Credit: Google

5. Spending insights

If you connect your bank accounts to Google Pay, you can get a breakdown of your savings, expenses and trends. The app will send you reminders for upcoming bills, which you can also set up to pay through Google Pay. You can use an intuitive search tool to find previous purchases or specific receipts too. For example, if you’re trying to see how much you spent at Target last month, you can type “Target” into its search feature to pull up all those purchases.

Image Credit: Google

6. Barcode and product search

Use Google Pay’s integrated camera to scan barcodes and QR codes on products. The app will pull up more information about the product and other places where you can find it for a good price. Ideally, this will make your “Can I get this cheaper on Amazon?” inquiry a step faster. 

7. Customized privacy settings

Google has upped its privacy options for controlling how your data is shared. No data from Google Pay will be shared with any of Google’s other ad targeting services, nor will it be sold to third parties. There are new privacy controls that let you choose how personalized you want the experience to be, and all consent is off by default. Machine learning and payment encryption are enabled in order to identify and block any potential threats to your information.

8. Plex Account — digital banking account coming in 2021

And finally, you can now join a waitlist to start a Plex Account, Google Pay’s digital bank account. Plex will be a combined checking and savings account with no monthly fees and no balance requirements. Right now,  you can open an account through Citi or Stanford Federal Credit Union, but 11 more banks, credit unions and minority depository institutions are in the process of joining. 

Image Credit: Google

How does Google Pay work?

To use Google’s app you’ll have to add a credit or debit card and verify your information. Once you confirm your card details, you can pick Google Pay at checkout when making a purchase online, as well as physical store locations. To make a purchase at a store, though, your phone must be Pay Protect Certified and have the Near Field Communication (NFC) settings turned on. Although storing debit card information on a digital wallet seems risky, Google stores data on secure servers using strong encryption. And when you buy something using the app, your credit card details aren’t visible to the merchant because the system creates an account number for every individual transaction.

Image Credit: Klaud Velfelt/Getty Images

Danika Miller

Personal Finance Reporter

Danika Miller is a personal finance reporter at The Simple Dollar who specializes in banking, savings, budgeting, home insurance, and auto insurance. Her reporting has also been featured at CreditCards.com, Reviews.com, and elsewhere.

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  • Andrea Perez
    Andrea Perez
    Personal Finance Editor

    Andrea Perez is an editor at The Simple Dollar who leads our news and opinion coverage. She specializes in financial policy, banking, and investing.