Google Wallet to lose pre-paid card option

Google says pre-paid product will be discontinued Oct. 17

Google announced this week that it would discontinue support for its branded pre-paid card in Google Wallet on Oct. 17, and urged customers to take steps to ensure they recover all their funds in a timely manner.

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The Google Prepaid Card is a virtual MasterCard account designed for use with the company's near-field communication Google Wallet payment app. Users that activated the "card" when it was released in 2011 received a free $10 credit for use with the system.

To prompt users to spend all the remaining money on their pre-paid accounts, Google announced that it would charge a $2 fee for 30 days of inactivity, though the company also noted that no fees would be levied on accounts that had zeroed out their balances by Oct. 17.

This is likely a move by Google to minimize the amount of manual refunds they will have to issue for anyone who still has a balance after the deadlines, as is the company's announcement that such direct refunds could take eight weeks to process.

All other types of cards will continue to work normally with Google Wallet after the change. Google added support for Visa and Discover last month, though initial reports that American Express had also joined the program turned out to be premature.

NFC technology, once thought to be the next big thing in payment methods, has yet to break into the U.S. mainstream. Although NFC payment is accepted at some major retailers, including McDonald's, few consumers use it on a regular basis.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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