Mobile phone bingo is becoming more and more popular as the devices themselves become more and more powerful. Many players now use a smartphone as their main or even as their only device, and here’s where pay by mobile phone bingo sites can be very handy.
- What is pay by phone?
- How to pay by phone at a bingo site
- Advantages of pay by phone
- Disadvantages of pay by phone
- Alternatives to pay by phone
What is pay by phone?
Payment via mobile phone billing is often referred to as Pay By Phone but somewhat confusingly, PayByPhone is also the name of a specific app for making one type of payment only (parking charges) which is absolutely nothing to do with bingo.
Pay by phone bill bingo sites have at least one payment processing method which allows deposits to be added to the player’s mobile phone bill or deducted from their PAYG balance. Boku is perhaps the best known mobile phone payment system but there are others; PayForIt is one and you may also have heard of or seen the logo for Zimpler, which is only in Sweden at the moment but has big plans for expansion.
How to pay by phone at a bingo site
Making a deposit at a bingo site where you can pay by phone is pretty simple. After entering the deposit amount in the bingo site’s cashier screen in the usual way and selecting a mobile phone billing payment method, the payment must be authenticated and this will happen in one of the following ways:
- A text is sent to your phone and you reply with a word or code to authorise the transaction (this is a direct descendant of the old method for buying novelty ringtones by sending a text to a premium number)
- A text is sent to your phone with an activation code that has to be entered on the cashier page
- Via a confirmation screen. A text receipt is subsequently sent to the phone. If connected via your phone’s 3G/4G data service you may not even need to enter your phone number (you do with wi-fi).
If a confirmation screen is used, the phone being billed has to be the device on which the deposit is being made but in the other two cases it need not be and indeed, it is possible to deposit at a bingo site via Boku (if you can find one that still takes it!) without ever even visiting the site on a mobile device.
In all cases the deposit (including any applicable fee) appears on your next mobile phone bill or is immediately deducted from your PAYG balance, just as if you’d made a phone call or sent a text to a premium rate number.
Paying by mobile phone is such a big business that it has its own UK regulator, the PSA (Phone-Paid Services Authority). The PSA regulates all phone paid services including all digital content and anything delivered via a call or a text to a premium rate number. The latest version of the PSA Code of Practice, Code 15, came into force from 5th April 2022 – all 96 pages of it.
Advantages of pay by phone
Safety and security
Safety and security are major advantages of pay by phone bingo sites.
- There’s no need for the bingo site to hold any bank account or card details. All they need is your phone number.
- Nor is there any need for any financial information such as credit card numbers or bank passwords to be transmitted over the internet (either via a data signal or via public wi-fi).
- You have to be physically in possession of the phone to make a payment.
Pay by phone bingo sites are also convenient and simple to use:
- There’s no need to switch from phone to computer to deposit – or even to have a computer
- You do not need to carry your debit card with you or remember any passwords or PIN numbers.
- In fact there is no need to have a card at all – or even a bank account, if using PAYG balance (though this may make it hard to withdraw).
Disadvantages of pay by phone
Unfortunately mobile phone billing has some fairly major disadvantages, especially if used as a player’s only deposit method.
Not available at the best/most popular sites
Low deposit limits
Low limits on deposits via mobile phone (such as the £30 daily limit on Boku) have been an annoyance ever since they started and as discussed earlier nowadays this is not just the phone companies being difficult, it is set by law. The Payment Services Regulation 2017 came into effect in January 2018 and limits the value of third party services that can be charged to a mobile phone bill to £40 for a single transaction and £240 in a month.
The limits sound reasonable but it is important to understand that the £240 a month is not per site or even per type of service, but is the total of everything – so you could easily use it up downloading music, calling premium rate enquiry lines or voting in the X Factor before you ever get round to depositing anything at a bingo site!
The £40 single transaction limit is also a potential problem as it prevents players from taking full advantage of some welcome offers – for instance, if the offer is 300% bonus up to £150, it isn’t possible to receive the full £150 on a pay by phone deposit as it isn’t possible to deposit £50.
It may not actually work
Unfortunately, just because a bingo site says that it accepts payment by mobile it does not guarantee that every player will actually be able to deposit that way. This is because success depends on the relationship between the mobile phone payment system the bingo site uses and the phone network the player uses, which is outside the control of the bingo site. For example, in the past there have reportedly been problems using Boku on Vodafone and EE – and we’ve also come across some bingo sites that display the Boku logo but no longer actually offer it as a payment method.
Most operators, including all Jumpman bingo sites, charge a hefty fee for deposits using mobile phone billing.
Not qualifying for offers
Some bingo sites restrict welcome bonus offers to certain types of deposit so check before depositing using mobile phone billing whether you will still receive a bonus. This will either be in the terms and conditions of the offer or on the cashier page.
Cannot be used to withdraw
The phone billing method cannot be used to withdraw and it is unlikely that this will change any time soon – after all, why would anyone want to transfer the proceeds of a big bingo win or slots jackpot to somewhere where it can mostly only be used to pay for phone calls? If you want to withdraw winnings, you’ll need a bank account or an e-wallet and (if you haven’t already done so) you’ll also need to go through account verification procedures which normally include submitting ID documents to the operator. You may also need to prove both that the phone you used to make the deposit belongs to you and that the bill has been paid.
Alternatives to pay by phone
The above disadvantages mean that payment by phone bill works best when used from time to time to make a deposit safely and securely on the go, rather than as a player’s only or main method of making deposits.
If you are looking for a single payment method to use for all your bingo site transactions, some of the safety and convenience of mobile phone billing can be achieved by using an e-wallet app – with the added benefit of being able to withdraw as well as deposit. The best known of these amongst bingo players is Paypal but there are others such as MuchBetter. Paypal also has the further advantage of being much more widely accepted than mobile phone billing. Again, it is important to check the terms and conditions before depositing with any of these to ensure that you will still be eligible for bonus offers and there are no additional fees or other restrictions.
At a pay by phone bingo site, you can make a deposit and have it charged to your mobile phone bill or Pay As You Go balance. This is super secure as you don’t need to transmit any passwords or card details over the internet.
Some bingo sites exclude certain payment methods from bonus offers so it is important to check the terms and conditions to see if mobile phone billing is one of them. You may also find you can’t use mobile phone billing for your first deposit, only for subsequent deposits.
Pay by phone bingo has two main disadvantages. Firstly, most (but not all) bingo sites charge a fee for deposits via mobile phone billing. Secondly, under UK law you won’t be able to charge more than £40 per transaction or £100 per month to your phone.
Mobile phone billing can only be used to deposit. To withdraw, you’ll need a bank account or e-wallet.