These days most online bingo sites accept a wide range of payment methods.. Sometimes, however, using a payment method that is not a regular credit or debit card can cause you to miss out on bonuses or make it more difficult or expensive to withdraw.
- Credit and Debit Cards
- Voucher Payment Systems
- Mobile Phone Billing
- Omni-Channel Payment Methods
- Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies
- Other Solutions
All bingo sites accept credit cards. There are a few things to bear in mind, however (some positive and some negative):
- It is usual for credit card issuers to class gambling transactions as cash advances rather than purchases so you will be paying interest from day 1 and/or incurring a handling charge when you deposit.
- All credit cards are NOT created equal as far as bingo sites go. Mastercards can sometimes be a problem when it comes to withdrawals; UK Mastercard credit cards are usually OK but withdrawals to international Mastercard credit cards, Mastercard debit cards or prepaid Mastercards may not be allowed. Amex cards are generally not accepted at all (this is down to American Express policy, not bingo site policy).
- A UK issued credit card (but not a debit card) is in itself an indication that the holder is over 18 so functions as age verification (although the bingo site will almost certainly ask for further ID and age verification before any withdrawals can be processed). If you deposit by any other means the bingo site is required under the conditions of its licence to freeze your account if unable to complete age verification within 72 hours!
- The credit card MUST be in the name of the player – it is not possible, for instance, to use a card belonging to a family member and if you try to do so you are likely to have your account cancelled.
- Most bingo sites that offer a no deposit bonus require credit (or debit) card details to be entered at the time of registration and if you don’t do this, you won’t receive the bonus even if you add them later.
- Welcome bonus offers are often valid for credit (or debit) card deposits only, so if you are hoping to make your initial deposit by some other means do check the terms and conditions to ensure that you will still receive a bonus.
Most bingo sites also accept regular debit cards and these have a few advantages over credit cards, the main one being that you are transferring money you already have and because of this there will not normally be a transaction fee, nor will there be interest charged. It is also easier to get a debit card than a credit card if you have a patchy credit history (but since the credit history is what the bingo site checks for ID and age verification when a credit card is not used, you may find you have to provide alternative forms of ID within 72 hours of making the deposit in order to continue playing). Visa debit cards are preferable to Mastercard debit cards because of the above mentioned issues with withdrawals. Again, the debit card MUST be in the name of the player.
A prepaid debit card is NOT linked to a bank account in the same way as a regular debit card. With a regular debit card, the money is debited from your bank account at the time of transaction. A prepaid card has to be pre-loaded with funds (and typically there is either a charge for doing this, a monthly fee or a transaction fee). Prepaid cards can be physical (in which case it may be possible to fund them with cash) or virtual, such as the Entropay Virtual Visa card accepted at Dragonfish sites (in which case they need to be funded with a regular credit or debit card or from a linked bank account). Again, be aware of the above mentioned problem with Mastercard withdrawals.
The majority of bingo sites accept at least one of these (one notable exception being the Jumpman powered sites on 15 Network and Wheel of Slots which accept credit and debit cards only). The main advantage of prepaid voucher payment systems is that you do not need any form of bank account or payment card to use them – cash will do. The main disadvantage is that you cannot withdraw to one, only deposit – so if you win, some other method of withdrawing will be needed and this almost certainly WILL require some sort of bank account, plus ID verification.
The most commonly accepted prepaid voucher payment system at online bingo sites used to be Ukash, but this has now been taken over and replaced by Paysafecard. Although its name makes it sound like a prepaid debit card (and it physically looks like one) Paysafecard is actually a voucher payment system (so more along the lines of an iTunes card or store gift card than a credit or debit card). Buy a Paysafecard PIN at an outlet (W H Smiths sell them) or online in fixed denominations.
The main difference between a prepayment system like Paysafecard and an e-wallet is that e-wallets can accept payments as well as make them – so if you deposit using an e-wallet and win, the proceeds can be paid back into the e-wallet. Again, most bingo sites accept at least one type of e-wallet.
Probably the best known e-wallet amongst UK bingo players is good old Paypal, since pretty well everyone who has ever bought or sold anything on Ebay has a Paypal account. There are several advantages to using Paypal, one notable one being that if you use a debit or credit card to deposit via Paypal, although the bingo site never sees the card details the card issuer can see where the payment is going and flag up anything suspicious (watch out for handling fees and interest though, just as when you use a credit card directly). There’s also the sheer convenience of it.
By no means all bingo sites accept Paypal, however – many Dragonfish sites and all Cozy sites use Neteller instead. Other e-wallets sometimes used by UK players are ecoPayz (e.g. at Gala Bingo) and Skrill/Moneybookers. Both Skrill and Neteller are owned by the Paysafe Group (who also, as the name suggests, own Paysafecard).
Mobile phone billing allows deposits to be deducted from PAYG credit or added to the player’s next phone bill. While this seems an obvious facility to be incorporated into a phone app such as mFortune Bingo, you may be surprised to hear that a few bingo sites including Winner Bingo allow deposits to be charged to a mobile phone bill regardless of whether the phone is ever actually used to play! The most commonly used mobile phone billing system is called Boku and to use it, all you have to do is enter your phone number in the banking section (from any device). A text message is then sent to your phone requesting authorisation and once you reply, the payment goes through. (Technically, this is an evolution of the old system whereby items such as ringtones could be purchased by sending a text to a premium number). Clearly there are some big advantages to this arrangement in terms of simplicity (no card numbers to remember and no need for a bank account or credit check if you use PAYG) and security (the player gives out no information apart from their phone number and no fraud is possible unless the phone itself is lost or stolen).
Of course there are disadvantages to this method as well and some of these are:
- Players may not be allowed to use it for their initial deposit, for security (and age/ID verification) reasons
- Deposits made via mobile phone billing may not qualify for any bonus
- Withdrawals cannot be made using this method so some alternative method plus ID verification will be needed
- A maximum of £30 per day can be charged via Boku and this is not per site but per phone, so if you use up the £30 allowance depositing at one site you won’t be able to make a deposit at any other sites (or pay for anything else via Boku) until the following day
Omni-channel gaming is frequently touted as the future of online bingo and all other forms of gambling. In Playtech‘s vision of the omni-channel user experience of the future, the same account and wallet would be used to play bingo, slots and casino games and place sporting and celebrity bets and this could be done online via any device or offline in a variety of venues.
Omni-channel payment methods are still in their infancy, with the first to appear being Coral Connect. Coral Bingo players can get a card with a PIN number that can be used (in conjunction with supplementary ID) to deposit cash to and/or withdraw cash from a Coral Online account in any of Coral’s betting shops across the country. New players can now open a Coral Connect account at a Coral shop by depositing cash and this enables players to have access to Coral Online without having to have a credit or debit card (although they will still have to satisfy ID requirements).
At Mecca Bingo, Cash Out In Club is another means of depositing to and/or withdrawing from an online bingo account in cash, although there is a limit for both types of transaction of £100 a day. Again, supplementary ID is required. Funds can also be transferred from a Mecca Max account (for playing bingo on a tablet in a club) to an online account.
Cryptocurrencies may or may not be the future of online payments. There are many of these, with Bitcoin being the best known, and there are certainly players out there (though maybe not bingo players) who want to play in Bitcoin – in August 2013, a single Bitcoin gambling site accounted for more than half the volume of all Bitcoin transactions!
As of Spring 2016 there are NO bingo sites for UK players that accept Bitcoin – not legal ones anyway, as the UK Gambling Commission has made it clear that as far as it is concerned cryptocurrencies count as “money’s worth” and that therefore any UK facing gambling sites operating in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency require a UK licence (and would be subject to UK taxation). Indeed, from the end of October 2016 Bitcoin will appear on the list of UKGC accepted payment methods. This would mean that the sites had to run on an already licensed platform and in fact this is a major obstacle for bitcoin gambling in the UK because Bitcoin casino games are generally based on the same blockchain technology as Bitcoin itself rather than using a licensed RNG – the advantage of this being that bets can be provably fair, although who knows how this would be implemented for bingo games. The situation is further complicated by the position regarding the regulation of the cryptocurrencies themselves which is still developing. Since gambling sites are already subject to the know-your-customer and anti money laundering requirements but the bitcoin exchanges (in some ways the equivalent of banks) are not as yet, it seems simpler for bingo sites to wait to accept bitcoin until the FCA gets around to regulating it, especially as in other gaming jurisdictions such as the Isle of Man the process is already under way. Indeed, back in 2014 it was announced that Cozy Games had partnered with GoCoin (a cryptocurrency payment processor) which would enable Cozy powered sites to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies such as the meme-inspired Dogecoin, but nothing has been heard of this since (although Cozy has an IoM licence, for UK players to be able to deposit or play in Bitcoin this would also have to be allowed under its UK licence which, as explained above, won’t happen until November 2016). One UK facing casino did accept Bitcoin for a while in early 2014 (Bitcoin deposits were converted into pounds or euros at current exchange rates and play was in regular currency but if deposits had been made using Bitcoin withdrawals were issued in Bitcoin) but this stopped after discussions with the regulator (Malta Gaming Authority as this was before the change to UK regulation). Another factor is that Bitcoin prices peaked back at the end of 2013 and when the price declined so did the excitement – although world events in 2016 have caused Bitcoin prices to rally as investors become nervous about any type of fiat currency. Summer 2016 saw a major step on the way to regulation with the introduction of Europe’s first regulated exchange traded instrument for cryptocurrency.
If this all sounds like gobbledegook, the TL;DR version is that Bitcoin bingo is still a thing of the future and looks set to remain so for quite some time yet.
For those who do not want to transmit any bank or credit card details over the internet, there are ways to deposit such as a direct bank transfer (e.g. at Dragonfish sites) and Western Union (e.g. at Ladbrokes), plus direct transfer methods that are valid in certain specified countries only (such as the German Giropay and the Swedish Trustly).
This type of solution can seem attractive if you want to give the bingo site as little as possible of your personal information – but since the sites are required to carry out age and ID verification as a condition of their licence, expect to have to supply lots of other forms of ID in order to withdraw or possibly even just to keep playing.