Update 7/27/15: Google Checkout has been retired and is no longer be available as of November 20th, 2013. See our list of Google Checkout Alternatives for other options.
Google Checkout Overview
Google Checkout (checkout.google.com) is an electronic payment service offered by Google.com that allows merchants to accept credit card payments through their website and at their retail location via consumers who use the Google Wallet app. The service is primarily marketed to consumers as a way to securely checkout of online stores by storing their credit card information in their Google Wallet account. Not only does Google claim that it’s a safer checkout option for consumers, but that it also speeds up the checkout process and stores the purchase information in one place so that consumers can easily review past purchases.
Google Checkout’s service is similar to PayPal’s “Payments Advanced” and “Payments Pro” accounts which allow merchants to either collect payments from a hosted checkout on Google’s servers, or through their own hosted shopping cart with either an HTML or XML-based API. Most merchants will likely need to work with an experienced web developer for the API option, but the other options can be implemented by just about anyone with basic knowledge of HTML.
Although merchants cannot type credit card numbers it into their Google Checkout merchant accounts to process sales, they can use Google Checkout’s invoice emailing feature to request payment from customers who then can fill in their own payment information. Essentially, if a buyer places an order via phone or fax, a merchant can generate invoices through his/her Google Checkout Merchant Center and email it to the buyer. The buyer is sent a link along with the invoice that allows him/her to confirm payment and shipping information. Unlike PayPal, Google Checkout does not offer a virtual terminal for processing face-to-face transactions but does have ant app for Android devices that allow Google Checkout sellers to accept payments for in-store sales.
Google Checkout Sales & Marketing Tactics | A+
Google uses no misleading sales tactics or marketing to promote Google Checkout. The service is primarily marketed online by other merchants and in search results.
Google Checkout Costs & Contract Terms | A
Like PayPal, there is no cost for setting up a Google Checkout account and merchants can cancel anytime without incurring a cancellation fee. Google Checkout, also like PayPal, has no monthly fees, but does not offer as many different features as PayPal. As of this review, the transaction fees for Google Checkout are:
Additionally, Google Checkout has a surcharge of 1% if the buyer’s billing country is different from the seller’s. There is also a $10 fee for merchants found liable of a Chargeback and an additional $0.30 fee for each “partial capture” if a merchant selects to do so with a sale. Registered non-profits pay the same fees as above unless they are a Google Grants recipient.
Google Checkout Complaints & Service | C
Google Checkout is a fairly popular service so, as to be expected, there are a few hundred complaints filed against it with the vast majority filed by buyers. As for merchant complaints, the common theme are reports of slow customer service, a non-existent customer support phone line and return/refund issues. There are also complaints of Google holding funds (a fraud prevention tactic) in which merchants report late or zero notification, and difficulty in reaching a resolution.
The majority of buyer complaints mirrored those of merchants but mostly pointed to problems with returns and refunds. As of this review, Google Checkout only offers email support and a merchant forum to resolve issues which is the primary factor lowering its grade in this section.
Google Checkout BBB Report | B-
As of this review, Google Checkout does not have its own report with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The overall company has a “B-” rating and reports that Google has not sought or been awarded BBB accreditation.
Google Checkout offers a simple payment processing service that is ideal for online merchants that are just starting out, have a low volume of sales, and low dollar transactions. For more established merchants, Google Checkout can be implemented as an additional checkout option that can be paired alongside PayPal and a traditional merchant account giving the buyer the option to choose his/her favorite payment method.
With no setup fees, monthly fees and cancellation fees Google Checkout out is a great option for any seller wishing to accept online payments or donations. The ease of establishing account and the lack of other fees does mean higher transaction fees than most traditional merchant account setups. For most merchants, Google Checkout is best used as an additional credit card acceptance method rather than a sole option for collecting electronic payments.
This review was originally published on 12/4/12 and was last updated on 7/27/15.