What are your preferred ways to pay?

by Janine

Hi- I'm researching how folks pay for their Monthly and Unlimited plans. Specifically, do you find it more convenient to set up auto-payment or do you like the flexibility of paying month to month? Also, Do you feel comfortable using a quick-pay option like registering a credit card, or do you prefer to talk to a customer rep and not keep a card on file?

Just wondering about your experience paying and what you think would make the process easier or more convenient. Thanks!

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Mar 05, 2010
International Payments - Part 1
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

Hi Janine,

Hopefully other end users will respond with some good feedback for your research exercise. Here's some feedback from my experience and understanding of customers in the prepaid wireless, no-contract market:

- I think we see a good volume of online payments, currently somewhere between 15-25%. Some carriers will see less than 15%, while others will see closer to 30%, however, most will be in the range I noted. You probably already know this; the only point being that people do make a good amount of online payments.

- A lot of what we would refer to as "classic PAYG" customers won't be prime candidates for making online payments b/c they either don't have a credit/debit card, or simply prefer paying with cash.

- Classic PAYG customers may have access to prepaid debit cards, and if they already have one, fees related to reloadable debit cards shouldn't really be an issue (since they're already paying them). The biggest customer experience issue here is that customers must be mindful of their prepaid debit card balance, so as not to fail an auto payment. Also, the auth hold (typically $1) can actually result in increased failure rates, and is difficult for end users to understand b/c, quite frankly, it can get confusing.

- I've seen people gifting online, typically parents gifting to their kids.

- I had a European phone that I wanted to keep active upon returning to the U.S., however, I was unable to use my credit card to topup b/c the foreign billing address wouldn't pass the AVS validation. Needless to say, once I used up the vouchers I had pre-purchased, the account expired and got canceled.

- I think you'll see that countries where people are using a lot of monthly unlimited type plans, the demographic is such that the penetration of credit/debit cards is much higher.

See below for the second half of this post!

Mar 05, 2010
International Payments - Part 2
by: PrepaidWirelessGuy

In terms of recommendations, I'm not sure what level of integration you have with each of the carriers, but, the following features would make the service on your site very valuable (in my opinion of course ;-):

- Low balance auto-replenishment (requires knowledge of the account balance).

- Threshold warnings/messages prompting with options regarding how much to replenish to my card on file.

- Allowing me to keep more than one card on file, such that if one payment method fails, it will trigger the second payment method.

- Provide some type of bonus to replenish using your site. It appears as though your site is focusing on friends and family making payments across the border. I think a lot of such cross-boarder relationships will involve money transfers as well, so there should be something to encourage people to use your service, rather than simply including topup funds in the amount of money they're already wire transferring. I hope this makes sense(?).

- Accepting PayPal as a payment method would provide extra features (like cascading payments with access to use multiple cards/bank accounts), as well as a sense of security/privacy that comes with this trusted brand. I think a lot of people are uneasy to provide their credit card information to yet another company.

Hopefully these few thoughts are useful...

Mar 03, 2010
THanks for the comments and another question on Prepaid payments
by: Janine

Thanks, all. This is great feedback. It sounds like cash is used to control spend, but 'plastic' can be used if you want to control spend but still want the convenience and don't mind paying a little more.
SO - a few more questions on payments:
- Do you ever refill online?
- Have you refilled someone else's phone? ...a gift for a relative, friend, etc.
- If no, would you?
- And have you ever tried to refill a phone for someone in another country?

I ask because my company is launching a new online service (http://www.prepaid.com) where anyone in the world can refill a phone for a prepaid mobile in another country. We are starting with Mexico as the refill recipient and will then expand to other countries. I'm looking for thoughts on why folks use different refill methods and how we can make www.prepaid.com a great option. Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts.

Jun 17, 2009
Prepaid Debit
by: Tim

I started using a prepaid debit card instead of a credit card. This allows me to better control spending, but I still get the convenience of using "plastic." I tend to use manual pay options for my wireless bill (to my debit card). I'm not yet comfortable with an automatic withdrawal, especially since I have to make sure I load money onto the card to avoid missing a payment. The fees on the card are a bit of a pain, but overall the convenience and security make me feel comfortable.

May 22, 2009
It's all about cash
by: Jane

As I don't always pay the minimum balance on my credit cards, the last think I want is to end up paying interest on my cell phone bill. After all, it's supposed to be low cost and controlling cost. That doesn't quite work out if I end up paying interest on it!

So, it's PIN cards for me most of the time. Hope this helps.

May 13, 2009
I like cash!
by: Anonymous

I'd rather just use cash. One less thing to hit my credit card which already gets to the limit too fast. I like to topup my phone when it's convenient like at a gas station or when I'm at walmart of some store I go to regularly. This makes me feel like I'm in total control and I see the money leaving my wallet.

Apr 30, 2009
I Prefer Autopay!
by: Jamie

Personally, I like the convenience of setting up autopay and never have to worry about running out of funds, or missing a monthly payment.

I have a friend who refuses to use his credit card for this type of payment because he doesn't want to have to worry about not paying his full credit card bill and end up paying interest and penalties or fees. For him, he likes the flexibility of throwing money on his account when he has it available.

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