Getting a Google Play gift card to work – you need a Google Wallet account

Shortly after getting the Motorola Moto G, I wanted to install apps.  Free apps were no problem.  Go to the Play store, log in with my Google account, hit install and a few minutes later they appear on my phone.  I like it.  It works.

I didn’t want to put my card details into Google Play so I bought a gift card.  The code errored  when I tried to redeem it so I went back to the shop, got a new card and watched them authenticate the card.  I still had the same problem with the second card.  Something was definitely up.

It is possible to report a problem to Google – you have to take a picture of the back of the card and the proof of purchase.  There was a quick response saying that I had to have a Google Wallet account.  I didn’t have one.  When I thought about an iTunes account for my iPhone it makes sense that you need an account to be able to top it up.

But wait.  There are a couple of issues here:

– there is no mention anywhere (in the Play store either in a browser, on the phone or on the gift card itself) that said a Google Wallet account is necessary.  I’d barely heard of Google Wallet before

– it turned out to be a lot more work than should be necessary to get this sorted (in my particular case).

Here’s the story…

I log into the Play store with my normal Google account.  I log into my phone with the same account.  It would seem that with that one account I have full control over the phone.  In theory it should be “One account.  All of Google.”  But no.   You are told to go to the Play store to redeem the gift card. No mention of Google Wallet, nowhere to sign up for an account.

I was given the URL to sign up for Google Wallet by Google support.  Then a bigger snag as I do not have a email address.  I use Google Apps for my domain. I did not have Google Wallet turned on for my account – it gave me the following:

We are sorry, but you do not have access to this service. Please contact your domain administrator for access.”

As an administrator, I tried to find the option to turn on Wallet, but seemingly I only had access to a couple of extra services, neither of which was Wallet.  In the end I had to click on one of my users in my admin Control Panel, click a down arrow to show more services, navigate down a long list of other Google products until I find Wallet and then I had to turn it on for all users (not just one) and wait up to 24 hours before it was activated on the account.

Then it was possible to sign up for Google Wallet.

I didn’t have to put in any card details, the gift card was accepted, the credit added to the account and my first paid-for app installed. Next time none of these extra steps will be necessary, and I guess that if you have a regular address then you won’t have any of these issues.  It’s all part of the Android and Google learning curve I suppose – the reason I wanted to get an Android phone in the first place.

Still, it was a pain-in-the-backside process.  I hope I don’t come across this type of process again for a while.



  1. Pingback: Getting Google Authenticator to work on more than one device at a time | Spare Cycles
  2. Lukong

    I recently purchase one, attempted to redeem them and then when I read the fine print, it told me I had to have Google Wallet, but guess what Google Wallet isn’t available in Canada.

    That is by far the most stupidiest thing to every do (Not warn someone or maybe use more of that space on the card to say Google Wallet is US only)

    So what can I do with this 25 card…I’m going to talk to Google

  3. google play code

    There is some sort of problem to redeem into google wallet from my device.I need to redeem the google play gift card codes into my account..Do you know how can that fix please inform me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s