Ways Of Adding Money To Your Prepaid Wireless Phone

Are you frustrated with figuring out all of the different ways of adding money to your prepaid wireless account?  What’s the difference between the options?  Which one(s) are better?  There are a number of different ways to add money to your account in the world of prepaid wireless, and it can get extremely confusing!  Sometimes dealers and retailers themselves get confused.  So if you’re confused and frustrated, don’t be too hard on yourself.  You’re not alone! Adding Money 

This is a symptom of a fast-paced industry that has introduced many new ways of adding money to make it easier for customers and distributors.  Fortunately, prepaid payment methods now largely look the same as contract wireless payment options, which means that things are a lot more familiar and logical.  That said, prepaid cards and PINs are still unique to no contract wireless.  Although the spirit of making adding money easier is a good one, companies have unintentionally confused both partners and customers.  Rushing new payment products to market, which usually contain compromises to the customer experience, is typically to blame.

The good news is that once you figure out what options are offered by your wireless carrier, and the benefits of each, it’s likely that you’ll be able to find the method that best fits your needs and lifestyle.  It used to be that if you wanted certain convenient payment mtehods, you'd have to choose certain providers that offered them.  Fortunately, because of the competitive nature of the prepaid wireless industry, and the critical importance of making it easy for customers to add money to your account, most providers look quite similar these days.  After all, wireless companies don't make money from selling phones, but rather, from customers making payments each month; it's what pays their bills (and employee salaries)!

I like to divide payments into two general categories:

1.   Cash Payments
  • These are products that you purchase in a retail store (ex. Walmart, Best Buy, Target, etc.) or from wireless dealers.  Although you may end up paying for them using cash, debit card, credit card, or personal check, according to your needs, and what the retailer accepts in their store, think of these as your in-store payment options (online payments on these retailers' websites is a completely different animal!).  It might sound strange to refer to these as cash payments when other, non-cash transactions can occur.  However, this language is common within carriers, retailers, and technology partners when discussing prepaid wireless payments.  This is because the wireless carrier doesn't know how you paid when you go into a Walmart, so they simply classify these as cash payments.
  • The most common topup products in this category include:
        o    Prepaid Wireless Cards
        o    PINs
        o    Topup/Real Time Replenishment

2.    Direct (Virtual) Payments
  • Direct payments are also often referred to as virtual payments, direct replenishment, or real time topup.  This is for customers who have a credit card, debit card, or bank account, and allows you to add money to your prepaid account without going to a physical store.  It’s called “direct” because it’s you, the customer, going directly to your wireless provider (i.e. carrier) to pay them directly.  You’re basically bypassing the middleman, the retailer or wireless distributor.  Although retailers and dealers don't typically like this option, because it means lost in-store payments for them, direct virtual payments can have benefits to both you and the carrier in terms of convenience and cost.
  • The most common products in this category include:
        o    Credit Cards
        o    Debit Cards
        o    Reloadable Debit Card
        o    Bank Account
Note:  Some carriers, or particular stores, still charge fees to make payments.  Yes, they charge you extra money for the pleasure of paying them!  Although these fees are largely falling out of favor, definitely watch out for these fees, and avoid them by using non-fee channels/topup products!

Adding Money

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