All good things come to an end, right? That certainly seems to be the case for one of Google Wallet’s earliest perks — since the company’s mobile payments service first launched almost exactly one year ago, every new user who had the prerequisite hardware and signed up got a free prepaid card to welcome them aboard.
Well, not any more. According to an email that just went out to existing Google Wallet users, those prepaid gift cards will be discontinued effective October 17 so you should probably go use them now before they disappear into the digital ether.
Alright, not really. You can request a refund if you forgot to spend the remaining balance on the prepaid card before that fateful day, but the refund could take as long as eight weeks to completely process. It’s also worth noting that while that digital currency will disappear on October 17, the process of slowly shutting the feature down will begin on September 17. After that point, users will no longer be able to add new prepaid cards, nor can they add funds to existing ones.
But why did Google finally decide to pull the plug on the longstanding program? According to the official email, Google is sunsetting the prepaid program because it “recently launched the ability to use any debit or credit card in Google Wallet.” The move doesn’t exactly come as a surprise — that free money was a nifty way to get users familiar with the service back when it only worked with select credit cards, but now that the limitation doesn’t exist anymore and the barrier to taking the Google Wallet for a spin is notably lower. Maybe now Google can use the money it saved from giving out freebies to convince more OEMs and carriers to play nice with the search giant’s mobile payments scheme.