Use Your Bank Account to Pay Your Prepaid Wireless Account
Replenishing your prepaid
wireless account with your bank account is
another option that has been around since almost the beginning of time.
thing about using your checking account directly is that unlike debit
cards, money is not validated in real time. What does this
Well, essentially, you could enter in your checking account
information online with your wireless carrier, and request to add $25.
Although they have verified that your account
exists, and that you are the rightful owner of the account, the
wireless carrier doesn't actually know that you have $25 in
your account available. The bank is simply providing a
basic response that provides a level of confidence that the money is
available, but does not guarantee that the funds will be there!
This Can Present
Problems. For example:
- The bank can respond to the wireless carrier many days
later (5-10 days
in fact) that there is insufficient funds, which means that they are
out of pocket $25 (in the example above).
that the $25 has already been taken out of your account,
and not closely managing your account balance, you may do another
withdrawal (ex. cash or debit card purchase), and
that transaction takes your account below $25. So, when the
looks for the $25 you owe your wireless carrier, it's not there.
This usually results in additional fees that the bank
typically called an NSF (Non-Sufficient Funds) charge (usually in the
range of $25 per NSF). These
can vary, but believe you me, you don't want to pay them!
To Combat This Problem,
Prepaid Carriers Will Often:
- In the meantime, the carrier has added the money to your
wireless prepaid account balance, or used the funds to apply it to your
payment due. So essentially, the carrier has provided you
with service for which they will ultimately not get paid for!
- Charge a per transaction fee (ex. $1 to $3) to
processing charges from the bank, as well as any charges for
non-sufficient funds. Unlike in the postpaid world where such
fees can be easily passed to you by charging it to your next bill, with
prepaid, there's no guarantee that money will ever show up in your
prepaid account for them to take. Most (but not all) prepaid
carriers do not have the ability to take your account into a negative
status, which ultimately means that they have a very hard time getting
the money you owe them.
- Force you to wait
a number of days until the transaction with the
bank clears. But in the prepaid world, this is a horrible
customer experience, and rarely used. Why would you want to
pay for something
today that you can't use for a number of days? Especially if
you need the money on your account to make a call NOW! You're
money on your phone today because you need it today, not three days
from now, right?!
Quite honestly, I never really understood why someone would want to use
their checking account and pay such fees when they can use a debit
I expect that in the past not everyone with a checking
had a debit card, however, this has changed dramatically. In
addition, personally, I would avoid giving ANY company direct access to
my bank account for security reasons. The 2013 Target
security breach is a good example of customers who had their bank
accounts linked to their Target Red Card having funds depleted from
their checking accounts. Yes, those funds were ultimately
returned to customers, however, it was a massive hassle, and if you're
living paycheck to paycheck it could cause real financial
Overall, it's fair to say that replenishing your prepaid wireless
account with your bank account could be a good option for some people.
keep your eye out for how fast the money will be added to your wireless
extra transaction/processing fees, and be sure to keep on top of your
bank account balance to avoid NSF fees. Depending on your
you may also be able to process a payment from your bank account to
your wireless account manually as you need it, or setup recurring
This could be convenient to make sure that you never run out
money on your phone. Just remember to check out all of the
that may apply.