How Recharging and Paying Bills Online help you Save Money? Our Analysis

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On a daily basis many of us worry about increasing costs and mobile tariffs are not an exception here. While we can continue to talk or rather rant about service providers not keeping up their quality even after increasing tariffs significantly, it is also possible to reduce the price hike burden on our pockets. I would be sharing some tips along with few of my own experiences on how one can save money when it comes to maintaining a communication vehicle - cellular phone, landline phone, internet etc.

Online Recharge/Bill Pay Advantage

The best way to save money would be to use different online avenues available. Online options offer significant benefits to anyone who wants to save money. When it comes to online recharge, an end user, in addition to service provider's websites, can go with third party websites like Paytm.

Service Provider

  1. Majority of service providers offer exclusive benefits for users recharging or paying bills through their portal. For instance,
    • BSNL provides reward points for paying bills online and additional points if you have opted for ebills. These points can be redeemed for free call units.
    • Airtel offers web exclusive offers like full talk value and allows users to pick coupons that can be used for online shopping.
  2. Certain service providers may even track your usage/recharge pattern and offer you surprise benefits. Airtel showcases such an option in their recharge portal.

Though official operator recharge portals have some things to offer, it is the third party websites which provide real value to consumers.

Third Party Websites

  1. Shopping Coupons: Online recharge portals have been always offering coupons which can be used for online or offline shopping. While some providers charge a flat handling fee for coupons many offer several free coupons and paid coupons at nominal price. We would suggest picking free coupons anytime and paid coupons only if you are sure that you will be using them within the last date mentioned there. On the other hand, you can also check a recharge portal for discount coupons and recharge your phone for a nominal amount when you plan to buy something! This specifically holds good when you don't find coupon codes for certain portals elsewhere. Eg. You cannot get discount coupons for Flipkart, but you can of course earn some Paytm cash!Selection_026
  2. Cashback: Cashback offers are common on special days and often form the prize for contests. One of the best offers I got so far was the 2013 offer from Paytm in December 2012. For a deposit of Rs. 2013 in Paytm cash, users were rewarded with Rs. 2500. Paytm had to revise the offer after few hours due to an overwhelming response (they gave Rs. 2100 instead of Rs. 2500 for those who joined later). Now that is the power of great offers and proves it is wise to be an early adopter! While we would not encourage social media spamming contests (which require you to follow the handle and tweet several hundred times with hashtags), contests can also held in a nice way - like first 100 users who respond or the best tweet and so on. Speaking about personal experience, just by using Paytm I managed to earn at least Rs. 200 - Rs. 500 per year in cashback. This may look like a small amount, but I am a firm believer in A Rupee Saved is Rupee Earned. My latest earning was through Paytm Valentine's day offer - a Rs. 100 cashback. Selection_028
  3. Welcome back offers: As much as sites want to gain users they also like to retain them. This prompts them to offer 'Welcome Back' coupons. You can expect welcome back coupons from leading recharge portals like Freecharge when you don't use the portal for few months. The welcome back offer can be anything like 5 - 15% discount or some cashback.
  4. Value additions: Recharge sites like Paytm offer recharge through IVR or SMS (Pre-requisite: Balance must be available in secure Paytm Cash account). This will be your best companion if you are away from your PC and have no access to a retail outlet.

Takeaway: Study the different recharge options available and choose that suits your needs.  Remember to maximize the earnings. To illustrate, take the example of Paytm Valentine's day offer: Selection_027The condition was 14% cashback subject to a maximum of Rs. 100 and the minimum recharge must be Rs. 300. Now 14% of Rs. 300 is only Rs. 42. A quick calculation revealed that I need to recharge for at least Rs. 715 to get full Rs. 100 cashback. To my luck there was a full talk value of Rs. 750 offer from BSNL and I managed to get it. Incase of Paytm, most of the times, adding to Paytm cash counts as a transaction and hence if you do not need to recharge your number, just add some Paytm cash. After all no bank gives you so much interest for such a short time!

Never miss a full talk value offer

Some service providers do not offer full talk value on recharges all the time. Take the case of BSNL, such offers come up mainly during festivals. In such situations, we would suggest you to go for high value recharges - say Rs. 1000 and above. BSNL also provides 10% extra for recharges above Rs. 1000 at such times. In such a case Rs. 1000 becomes Rs. 1100. Now one might argue, I don't spend Rs. 1000 on calling. Fine, even I don't. :) But you can use the balance to activate STVs. STV activations by SMS works out to be cheaper!

Keep an eye on what your Bank Offers

Major private banks like ICICI always have special offers on recharges. Sometimes they are valid for first time users, sometimes for anyone. You can avail them at least once in that case. Same holds good for many other banks. To make mobile apps popular banks often offer exclusive app offers.

When doing a recharge or paying a bill make it a point to use the card which gives you maximum reward points. Note that reward points are no longer a feature on credit cards - they come on debit cards and net banking usage too. These reward points can be redeemed later at some stage!

Paying in Advance for Long Duration

If you have a reliable service provider for Internet or Landline telephone, you can opt to pay the rent in advance for longer duration. Service providers like BSNL, Beam Fiber allow up to 3 years and 2 years advance payment respectively. BSNL waives off one month's rent for one year's advance payment and Beam Fiber works out to be significantly cheaper than paying monthly. Though the amount looks huge at once, in most of the cases you will be saving a princely amount. So do the math!

To Readers

What are your money saving tips on recharges or bill payments? Are you still using paper recharge coupons or visit corner shops to get recharge done? Let us know through comments!

Disclosure: I have been a happy Paytm user ever since they started their services!

Image Credits: Paytm

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