Google Inc. will no longer support the Google-branded virtual prepaid card built into Google Wallet as of Oct. 17.
The prepaid card option, which has been a part of Google's mobile wallet since its launch last year, allowed Google Wallet users to fund point-of-sale purchases with any credit or debit card by first funding the prepaid account. The only other option was to use a card issued by a Google bank partner, and for about a year Google had just one partner, Citigroup.
Google Wallet is compatible with six Android smartphones with built-in Near Field Communication chips for wireless payments. Google Wallet also works with the Nexus 7 tablet Google sells directly to consumers.
Last month, Google added the ability to link most credit and debit cards to Google Wallet by funding a separate virtual MasterCard. The original card's branding is presented to the consumer, and the virtual MasterCard is presented to the merchant. This new setup made the Google-branded prepaid card redundant.
"Since we recently launched the ability to use any debit or credit card in Google Wallet, we are discontinuing the Google Prepaid Card," Google said on its website. "Google Wallet itself is not changing — only the Google Prepaid Card will be impacted."
Google's card-enrollment system also makes it easier for banks to work with Google. Discover Financial Services signed on as Google's second issuer partner shortly after Google announced the new option.
As of Sept. 17, Google will no longer allow users of its Google prepaid card to add funds to the account. As of Oct. 17, the prepaid card "will disappear from the Wallet app and you won’t be able to spend your balance any longer," Google said on its website.
If users reset their Android phones ahead of Oct. 17, the prepaid card option disappears automatically.
Google is also changing the terms (pdf) of its prepaid account. It previously charged a $2.00 maintenance fee after 180 days without any transactions. It now charges the fee after 30 days without transactions. The account expires automatically five years after the date of its activation. Users can request a refund of any remaining funds on a Money Network prepaid card, a refund check or a refund to a personal bank account.