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Can a watch replace my wallet?

In some ways, devices and wearable technology have been too far ahead of the curve for people to realize all the benefits they may offer. As understanding catches up and these items become more commonplace than rare, we find that devices, such as an Apple Watch, can do some pretty remarkable things.

For instance, did you know with the right smartwatch, you don’t need to carry a wallet anymore? Besides storing everything you typically carry on your person for identification, you can use your watch to make payments, so you no longer need to carry physical credit and debit cards.

What is Google Wallet?

If you Google Google Wallet, you might get confused because even Google sends you to Google Pay. That’s because Google Wallet has come and gone and come back again.

To keep it brief, Google Wallet was replaced by Android Pay, which then merged with Google Wallet to become Google Pay. Then, last May, Google Wallet returned for Android and Wear OS (for most of the world) as the replacement for Google Pay.

Confusing? Well, the good news is, moving forward, Google Wallet is the only app you need. It gives you one convenient location to store debit cards, credit cards, flight passes, concert tickets, vaccination cards and more. Everything you typically carry in your physical wallet can be stored as a digital version in Google Wallet.

What is Wear OS?

Wear OS is simply Android OS tailored to wearable devices, such as smartwatches. Once installed, Wear OS lets you check texts, emails and phone calls without pulling out your phone. It helps you manage your schedule, gives you directions and plays your favorite music. Wear OS also helps you take control of your fitness, get help by asking Google and allows you to make payments using your smartwatch.

What do I need to make payments with my smartwatch?

While it is fairly easy to use your smartwatch and Google Wallet to make payments, there are a few things you’ll need to check.

Do you have a watch with NFC?

Near-field communication (NFC) is a set of protocols that enables very close wireless communication (less than 1.6 inches) between two electronic devices. If your watch does not have NFC, you cannot make contactless payments.

Are you running the right OS?

Google Wallet only runs on Wear OS 2 or newer. Make sure your watch is running the latest version of Wear OS before installing Google Wallet.

Is Google Wallet installed on your watch?

If your watch does not have Google Wallet installed, you cannot use it to make a contactless payment.

Is your payment method supported?

Currently, Google Watch on Wear OS supports 18 banks in the U.S.: AMEX, BAC, Barclays US, BBVA Compass, Capital One, Chase, CITI, Discover, Green Dot, HSBC, NFCU, PNC, Regions, Synchrony, Wise, USAA, US Bank and Wells Fargo. If you are not in the U.S., you will have to check which banks are supported.

Is Google Wallet on Wear OS supported in your region?

If you are not in the U.S., you will need to verify if Google Wallet on Wear OS is supported.

How do I pay with my smartwatch?

The purpose of Google Wallet is to streamline your life to make paying for things easier. To add a payment method to the app, all you have to do is open up Google Wallet on your watch and follow the on-screen prompts to add a credit or debit card. Because you have sensitive information on your device, setting up a screen lock is very important.

When paying in a store, you must open your Google Wallet app and hold your watch over the contactless payment reader until it makes a sound or you feel your watch vibrate.

7 smartwatches you can use with Google Wallet

Best Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic

This is a classic-looking black watch packed with ability. It is the first smartwatch to offer body composition data. The watch also recognizes six popular activities, including running and swimming, so you can get the most out of your training. Sold by Amazon

Best Skagen Gen 6

Skagen Gen 6

The sleek design of this smartwatch makes it aesthetically appealing. It can track activity goals, steps, sleep and more. It runs Wear OS by Google and is compatible with phones with the latest Android or iOS. Sold by Amazon

Best Fossil Gen 6

Fossil Gen 6

Fossil makes high-quality, durable watches. This model has an always-on display with thousands of faces, so you can personalize its look. The new magnetic charger gets the watch up to 80% in just 30 minutes. The built-in Alexa adds convenience. Sold by Amazon and Macy’s

Best TicWatch C2 Plus

TicWatch C2 Plus

The C2Plus is an upgraded version of the C2. It has double the RAM and is compatible with iPhone and Android devices. The watch is suitable for swimming, and it has GPS, GLONASS and BeiDou built in for superior positioning. Sold by Amazon

Best Michael Kors Women's MKGO Gen 5E

Michael Kors Women’s MKGO Gen 5E

This watch by Michael Kors is a beautiful pink rose color with a stunningly elegant design. The magnetic charger snaps to a ring on the watch case back for ease of charging. You can use this watch to answer and make calls, even when your phone is not within reach. Sold by Amazon

Best Skagen Connected Falster 3 Gen 5

Skagen Connected Falster 3 Gen 5

The smart battery mode on this watch lets you extend its life for multiple days. It has a built-in GPS for distance tracking, is swim-proof and has a speaker for audible alerts. There is 4GB of onboard storage for third-party apps. Sold by Amazon

Best Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4

This is a lower-priced version of the Samsung Classic watch. It offers all the same features but has a streamlined, minimalist design for a more modern look. If desired, the watch connects to live coaching sessions and dynamic group challenges you can complete with friends to help you stay motivated. Sold by Amazon

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 

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