Google rolls out Google Play gift cards

Google has followed in the footsteps of Amazon and Apple, rolling out gift cards that can be used in its Google Play store.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

Google has confirmed rumours that it is rolling out gift cards that customers can use to purchase apps, movies, music and ebooks from Google Play.

Last week, Android Police managed to reverse engineer an update issued by Google for the Google Play store, revealing code and resources that pointed to Google releasing gift cards. Earlier today, Google made the announcement on Google Play's Google+ page that it would, indeed, be stocking the cards at retailers. While they are not yet available in all stores, they will soon be sold from RadioShack, Target and GameStop, and only in the US.

Google declined to comment on the release timing for other countries, although ZDNet understands that the company is still interested in rolling out the cards to countries outside of the US.

The gift cards come in US$10, US$25 and US$50 denominations, have no fees, never expire and have a redemption code beneath a scratch-off panel. Users can enter the code on the Google Play website or on their mobile device. They can also enter the code online, by navigating to play.google.com/redeem. Even if customers outside the US manage to obtain a card or its code, they will be unable to redeem it as Google will check their location and inform them that it is not available where they are.

The funds will go into the users' Google Play balance, which has a maximum limit of US$2000 and can only be topped up by using gift cards. Users are unable to split the cost of a single purchase between their Google Play balance and another form of payment, such as credit card.

The gift cards do have some additional restrictions. They can't be used for subscriptions or to purchase hardware, such as the Nexus 7, or any accessories, such as chargers or covers. Additionally, if a US user relocates or travels to a country that doesn't use US dollars in the Google Play store, they won't be able to use the card or Google Play balance.

The cards now offer parents a way to ensure that their teenagers can make purchases, without the need of a credit card. For users between 13 and 17 years of age, their Google Wallet account will only accept gift cards. Gift cards are not valid for users below the age of 13.

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