No matter what the reason, you shop. It may be for your company or your household, but it does happen. When you do, one of the most important aspects of the task is trying to stay within your budget. One very simple way you can do that is with the help of loyalty programs—you know, those plastic cards every business wants you to sign up for. But what happens when you forget (or lose) your card, or you don't want to take the time to sign up in store for the program? If you use Google Wallet, you don't have to worry about those problems popping up while you're in line to pay for your goods.
With Google Wallet, you can easily add and manage loyalty cards and even sign up for loyalty programs without having to be in the store. Before you go crazy, not every company loyalty program is available for sign up within Wallet. At the moment, the list hovers around twenty programs—but it's growing. For those companies not in Wallet, most likely you can sign up for the program on their web site.
With that said, let me walk you through the process of adding loyalty cards and signing up for loyalty programs within Google Wallet.
Adding a pre-existing loyalty card
Adding a pre-existing loyalty card into Google Wallet is very simple. Here are the steps:
- Open Google Wallet
- Swipe right from the left edge of the screen and tap Loyalty, gift cards & offers
- Tap the + button in the lower right corner
- Tap ADD LOYALTY CARD
- When prompted, take a photo of the back of the card
- When prompted, take a photo of the front of the card
- Tap NEXT
- Enter your Google Wallet PIN
- Give the loyalty card/program a name (most likely, as you type, the company will appear)
- Double check the card number and, if it is correct, Tap SAVE, as seen below.
That's it. The loyalty card is now available to use from your phone.
I have, on occasion, signed up for a loyalty program online and then added the program into Google Wallet. Most loyalty programs associate a number with your account. When you add the new loyalty program in this way, tap Skip Photos, and then add the loyalty account number in the program edit window, as seen below, and tap SAVE when finished.
When using loyalty cards from Google Wallet, they tend to have trouble with flat scanners, so often self-checkouts will not read them. If this is the case, you still have the card number that you can enter.
Adding a featured loyalty program
If you swipe the Loyalty and gift cards window to the right, you'll see the FEATURED tab. Within that tab, you can add any of the loyalty programs included in Google Wallet. If you don't happen to be a member of that particular program, tap the program and then tap JOIN NOW:
NOTE: Some loyalty programs, such as REI, require a one-time payment to join. Because of this, you cannot join those loyalty programs from within Google Wallet, unless you already have your account credentials for that program.
If you plan on using Google Wallet as your primary source of retail payment, there is no reason for you to have to dig around for loyalty cards when you can manage all of that information within the same, convenient place. Shopping has never been easier and more cost savings.
With most of your loyalty programs saved to Google Wallet, you can receive notifications regarding a loyalty program in the Android notification system. With this feature enabled, you will be notified when you have a saved gift or loyalty card for a nearby business (or if there are updates or offers for a particular loyalty program). To enable this, do the following:
- Open Google Wallet
- On the main window, swipe right from the left edge of the screen
- From the sidebar, tap Settings
- Tap Notifications
- Scroll down to Nearby items and make sure it is enabled, as seen below
- Make sure Updates is enabled
With this enabled, you won't ever forget you have a loyalty program for a business.
Google Wallet is set on making the shopping experience easier and more cost-effective for you. Take advantage of these features and keep watch for new businesses to be added to the list of Featured programs.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.