A digital wallet is designed to work in one of two ways: It can be used as an online banking platform to send and receive money and make purchases on the internet. Or, users have the option to download digital wallet apps, such as the Google Wallet app, to their mobile devices and then simply tap the phone on the payment terminal of participating stores when making purchases. The money is instantly withdrawn from either the debit or credit card you used when setting up the digital wallet.
Here are some of the best virtual wallet apps that you can get started with today. See what they each have to offer so you can decide if making payments via virtual technology is right for you:
|Digital Wallet Comparison|
|App||Cost||Compatibility||iTunes & Google Play Ratings||Standout Features|
|Android Pay||No fees||Android||Google Play: 4 stars out of 5||Accepts debit, credit, gift and loyalty cards|
Accepted at major retailers and restaurants
Comes with the Android Device Manager, which allows you to lock your information if your phone is ever lost or stolen
|Apple Pay||No fees||iOS||iTunes rating: 3.8 stars out of 5||Accepts some popular store card|
Connects with popular rewards cards
Keeps purchases private
|Bitcoin Wallets - various||No fees to receive bitcoins|
Users decide on their own fees when sending bitcoins
|iTunes - BitPay: 4.5 stars out of 5|
iTunes - Blockchain: 4.7 stars out of 5 Blockchain
Google Play - Bitcoin Wallet: 4 stars out of 5
|Allows users to send money anywhere in the world 365 days a year|
Not run by any single individual or company
|Capital One Wallet||No fees||iOS||iTunes: 4.7 stars out of 5|
Google Play: 4.6 stars out of 5
|Instant purchase notifications|
Ability to digitize gift cards
Captures receipts on the phone to reduce paper clutter
|Google Wallet||Free to send and receive money||All devices||iTunes: 4.4 stars out of 5|
Google Play: 4.5 stars out of 5
|Can send money to anyone, even if they don't have the app|
Payments received immediately transferred to your default payment method
Comes with Google Wallet fraud protection
|PayPal||No buying fees|
2.9% of the transaction amount plus a fixed fee when sending money from a non-funded PayPal account
2.9% plus $0.30 per sale selling fee
|iTunes: 4.7 stars out of 5|
Google Play: 4.3 stars out of 5
|Widely used and trusted form of payment|
Easily links to a bank account, debit card or credit card
Allows user to quickly check balance and transaction information
|Venmo||3% fee to send money via credit card||Any U.S. mobile phone that can send/receive text messages from short codes||iTunes: 4.8 stars out of 5|
Google Play: 4.7 stars out of 5
|Can sign up using Facebook|
Allows users to pay half a cab fare or split the cost of dinner
Transfers money to your bank in as little as 24 hours
Compatibility: All devices
So how does Google Wallet work? Although Google previously used a Google Wallet card, it was nixed in July 2016. Now, everything is handled virtually. To open an account, you need a Google account and a debit card. Individuals and those doing business as a sole proprietorship are welcome to use Google Wallet, as well as people living in the U.K.
When learning how to use Apple Pay, you must first verify your bank or credit card as one of its participating issuers. If so, you simply add the card and begin using the service. U.K. members are welcome to use Apple Pay with Transport for London. Both online and brick-and-mortar stores that accept this form of payment prominently display the Apple Pay symbol at checkout.
Bitcoin Wallet — Multiple Options
Cost: $0 to receive bitcoins; users decide on their own fees when sending bitcoins
Compatibility: Depends on the wallet, but most work with Android and iOS
Bitcoin works a little differently than the other digital wallets. Instead of one wallet, you can choose from multiple bitcoin wallets — arguably, the best bitcoin wallet is Blockchain. BitPay, Copay and Coinbase are also good options. After selecting a bitcoin wallet, you can purchase bitcoins at an exchange or earn them through a process called mining. The bitcoins can then be used to purchase goods and services at any place that accepts them.
Capital One Wallet
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Capital One Bank and Capital One 360 account holders will love the convenience of the Capital One Wallet. You can easily track your balance and even upload as many as 25 gift cards to use digitally. The Touch ID is a handy security feature, and if you lose your physical credit card, it only takes two taps on your phone to lock the card and keep it from being used.
Cost: No buying fees; 2.9 percent of transaction amount plus a fixed fee when sending money from a non-funded PayPal account; 2.9 percent plus $0.30 per-sale selling fee
Compatibility: iOS, Android
After downloading the PayPal app to your phone, you'll enjoy all the same benefits you've come to appreciate from PayPal. In addition, you'll be able to order items from local stores, pay with the app and present the on-screen code to show proof of payment when retrieving the items. You'll always have access to your balance, and as long as you remember your log-in information, you can leave your wallet at home.
Cost: 3 percent fee to send money via credit card; no other fees apply
Compatibility: Any U.S. mobile phone that can send/receive text messages from short codes
Venmo is another good digital wallet option. Account holders can use their bank accounts, debit cards and credit cards to pay for everything from dinner to rent. You can even send money to someone who isn't a Venmo member by using his email address or phone number. The company also allows groups to set up an account, a convenient feature for community groups and school organizations.
Compatibility: Android devices
With Android Pay, if you reach checkout and you're ready to pay, you don't even have to stop playing with your phone. Simply ensure the phone is unlocked and hold it to the terminal.
You'll know if the store accepts this form of payment when you see the Android Pay symbol at checkout. Android Pay ensures your information is safe by sending a virtual account number in place of your actual credit or debit card number.
A digital wallet provides easy-to-use convenience. In just a few minutes, you can order groceries from a supermarket, pay a friend for concert tickets and buy a new outfit from an online retailer. With so many available options, it's likely there's a digital wallet that can work well for you.