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Thursday, October 18, 2012

GSM Recharge Cards: Airtel, Etisalat, Glo and MTN Nigeria

Share Recharge cards are the most conventional means of topping up GSM lines in Nigeria. Even though there are other options of recharge such as VTU, ATM top-up, online top up, transfer, etc., the rate at which recharge cards are used may be greater than the rates of usage of other recharge means put together.

What is a recharge card

A recharge card, in the sense of GSM telephony, is a physical card that contains a Personal Identification Number (PIN). A PIN is a secret numeric figure that establishes communication between a user and a computer system, and is used to verify the authenticity of the user to the system. Recharge cards usually have their PINs hidden under a covering. The user is expected to scrape off the covering to have the PIN revealed.

Basic functions of a GSM recharge card

GSM recharge serve three main purposes, namely, calling credit build up, validity enhancement and provision of access to certain services.

Calling credit build up: An essential function of recharge cards is provision of calling credit. SIM cards may come with credit, but this calling credit is depletable. Recharge cards provide the means by which GSM subscribers top up their accounts. A subscriber purchases a recharge card, scratches off the covering hiding the PIN, and then incorporate the PIN in an USSD or voice command to have their account topped up with a specified airtime value.

Validity enhancement: SIM cards of networks in Nigeria have phases. If a subscriber neither recharges their account nor makes a call/send SMS for a specified period, their SIM card could have reduced functionality such as being able to receive only calls and SMS, but not make a call or send SMS. If the subscriber still does not top up their account or make a call or send SMS after some months, the SIM card could fall into permanent deactivation and the subscriber will have to buy a new SIM card if they still want to continue to enjoy the service. So, recharge cards impart validity to SIM cards.

Provision of access to certain services: Some services offered by networks in Nigeria would require subscribers to have a specified minimum account balance to qualify to enjoy the service. A good example is MTN Nigeria Happy Hour Call (Free Night Call). To enjoy MTN Nigeria Happy Hour Call, a subscriber must have a minimum balance of N100 on their account. In the event that a subscriber's account balance falls short of N100, they will have to top up, not necessarily to acquire calling credit, but to qualify to enjoy the service.

How to use recharge cards on Nigerian mobile networks

Nigerian networks have various denominations of recharge cards. Recharge cards' values are expressed in Naira.

MTN Nigeria

MTN Nigeria recharge cards are yellow in colour. To recharge an MTN SIM card, a subscriber incorporates the recharge PIN in the following USSD format: *555*PIN# Send/Ok. MTN Nigeria' recharge card PIN has 12 digits. If the PIN is 2345 5478 1110, input *555*234554781110# and press Send or Ok. Dial *556# to verify account balance.

Etisalat Nigeria

Etisalat Nigeria recharge cards are black in colour and contain a 15-digit PIN. To recharge an Etisalat SIM card, a subscriber incorporates the recharge PIN in the following USSD format:
*222*PIN# Send/Ok. If the PIN is 580 389 318 308 778, input *222*580389318308778# and press Send or Ok. Dial *232# to check account balance.

You can also recharge your friend or family member's Etisalat line with a recharge card, directly from your Etisalat line. To recharge another person's line straight from your phone, dial *222*PIN*Recipient'sNumber#. If the PIN is 580 389 318 308 778, and the beneficiary's number is 08090001111, dial *222*580389318308778*08090001111#. Subscriber  08090001111 will be credited and be notified of the transaction.

Airtel Nigeria

Airtel Nigeria recharge cards are red in colour and contain a 16-digit PIN. To recharge an Airtel SIM card, a subscriber incorporates the recharge PIN in the following USSD format: *126*PIN# Send/Ok. If the PIN is 2345 5478 1110 9999, input *126*2345547811109999# and press Send or Ok. Dial *123# to check account balance.

Glo Nigeria

Glo Nigeria recharge cards are green in colour and contain a 15-digit PIN. To recharge a Glo SIM card, a subscriber incorporates the recharge PIN in the following USSD format: *123*PIN# Send/Ok. If the PIN is 2345 5478 1110 777, input *555*234554781110777# and press Send or Ok.
Dial #124# to check account balance.
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