Monday, 2 February 2009

Buying airtime can be done in numerous ways - HandyTechTipper weighs up convenience with discounts

I was looking for a online site that offered discounted airtime for my prepaid cell phone.
I previously used Discovery Vitality's Airtime that offered 10% discount (now discontinued and handed over to
I now purchase from Pick 'n Pay stores or Clicks.

I was looking for an online alternative - and here are my findings...
Buying airtime for your pre-paid cell phone is easy - go to any shop and they'll gladly sell you the airtime 'virtual' voucher that you can enter into your phone.
Online purchasing of airtime is also easy - if you have a credit card

HandyTechTipper (HTT) did a search for airtime vendors

Discounted airtime is also a bonus for the end user i.e. buy R29 worth of airtime for R27.

HandyTechTipper's ideal place to purchase airtime would be one that offered all of the following:
i) online vendor; ii) accept credit cards; iii) offered discounted airtime; iv) automated airtime credits.

Click here to download: BuyingAirtimeCalculatorFeb2009.xls

Note: not all vendors have been verified - use at your own risk!

Using the spreadsheet:

In worksheet "AirTimeOutlets":
Use worksheet "AirTimeOutlets" to see a summarised view of what's out there
Look through the offers and use the "ShortList" column to filter the offer that you are interested in and so home in on the offer best suited to your needs

In worksheet "DiscountedAirtime":
Use worksheet "DiscountedAirtime" to see what %age discounts are given.
Look through the offers and use the "ShortList" column to filter the offer that you are interested in and so home in on the offer best suited to your needs.

It seems that the following services come up tops for me: due to the highest discount and 26th voucher free offer [buy 25 of R12 vouchers for R287.50 and get airtime to the value of R312.00 [= 7.85% discount]].
image due to the random discounts and specials offered eg: R1,100 for R1,000
Pick 'n Pay and Clicks give small discounts (or ClubPoints), allow credit card purchases - but don't sell airtime online :(

Banks like FNB, ABSA are very convenient (no registration forms), online, 24x7, and transfer airtime immediately.

eBucks: gr8 to use up those bucks for airtime too.

Watch out for those "services" that require registration fee and transactional fees.

So, either go through the pains of registering and paying using EFT (and wait for your topup) to get your discounted airtime,
OR purchase online via your bank for immediate topups (but no discounted airtime).

Update on 7th April 2009:

I would love to be able to verify all the vendors listed but I do not have such funds (and time) at my disposal – for a proper verification of all services I would need to purchase at least 30 vouchers from each vendor and then calculate what the overall costs and savings were. This would (sort-of) then take into account the varying/random discounts and come up with a better comparison. But, even then, random prizes (eg: free cell phones, etc.) could not be taken into account…. I’d say that was an extra bonus that the end user shouldn’t bank on.

I have also noticed that have an ongoing offer of R1,100 airtime for R1,000.

Updated on 14July2009:
MTN users can now buy prepaid on credit (directly from MTN).
See here for more details: ITweb article

Update on 7th September2009:
Another service that accepts credit cards online is: BigTimeAirtime
There's also a small discount of R1 or R2 on amounts over R100 or so.


  1. I have checked out your 2 top listed vendors and no more credit card transactions??? WTF.

    All the other vendors I have contacted seem to have the same story only ETF- again WTF!!!

    Is there some sort of action against getting stuff on cards.

    The whole point of this exercise is to make it easier not harder.

    Finally personal gripe - all the stores online or otherwise seem phone centric, I want Data couldn't care less about phone, so what is this will send you sms crap, hello its for data inside a modem, no sms, just activate the damn thing.

    Jeezz welcome to the stone age.

  2. Hi Anonymous

    Yup - I agree.

    I suspect that it's to do with the charges that the Credit Card companies charge.

    Which 2 top listed vendors are you referring to that have stopped accepting credit card transactions?

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. I wonder if anyone has a list of ALL the retail outlets where one can buy airtime via PoS tills? And what integration software they use? If anyone knows of such a list I would love to see it.

  4. Hi All

    VTime do a direct recharge to your SIM in your modem... No vouchers & PIN. and no need to remove your SIM!

    We have no creditcard infrastructure due to the costs!

    VTime still offers a good argin for those GIG Freaks:
    Buy R1000 and get a R1100 recharge...!

    The VTime Admin Team

  5. These days it is not safe to share your banking details with anyone. An EFT remain the safest way to exchange money between two parties. Therefore, simply register VTime Airtime as a beneficiary on your Internet Banking and make an EFT when you need prepaid airtime or 3G data. This takes a lot of risk off your hands.

  6. I agree with the EFT payments. But not everybody is set up to take advantage of this and if you do an EFT transfer then it still takes 2 days plus to get the funds in the account. The money leaves your account immediately but only lands up in the vendors account 2 days later unless they are bank with the same bank as yourself.

  7. Dear Anonymous,

    VTime is online 24/7 with all the major banks in SA. You will receive your Vodacom recharge within 15 minutes.

    VTime doesn't send you an SMS, voucher or pin. Your Vodacom airtime is recharged directly to you SIM. Your SIM can be in any device: handset, modem, remote gate or security cam.

    The VTime Team

  8. Well done VTime with Data Direct!
    2010 and I can rechrge data bundles without removing my SIM!!! and it works!!!


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