A little while ago (February 2013 to be exact) while doing online marketing for a local brand in conjunction with a popular football Facebook page, I created a list that had 20 of the top airtime saving tricks that one could use. Unfortunately, that incident got my WhatsApp number banned and taught me a thing or two about people who wanted to know how to cut on their airtime bill.
Sadly, most of the methods are no longer applicable, as the mobile networks have opened up somewhat, giving their subscribers ‘better’ deals and packages.
But we’d still love to save, wouldn’t we?
Here are my top 7 methods that I use to keep money going to both Econet and Telecel, these tips can work on NetOne too. At the end of the day, your mobile networks wants you to partake in services that cost them the least and charge you the most. Get to know these ‘hacks’ and you’re well on your way to saving half, if not more of your current airtime bill.
You can thank me later.
As we advance in technology, most of our communication nowadays is being done through the internet. As such, the first few tips here focus on just that: saving through access to the internet.
1. Background Data
This has been one of the greatest reasons that people claim that networks “steal” their airtime. Even ‘Pastors’ have prophesied about it. As phones become smarter, and made for markets where internet is not an issue, we have to be weary of their data needs. If you don’t have WiFi, be sure to either turn off your internet connection or to disable background data.
This will stop applications from accessing the internet, using your main airtime and allows you to only use airtime when you want to. (Note: Some networks charge you for a network connection and not for accessing the internet. That is; so long as you are connected to the internet, you are being billed, even if the phone is in your pocket and you are not doing anything).
2. Mobile Application Blockers
There are mobile applications that can stop your phone from connecting to the internet and you only giving certain applications access (you can change this as and when you want). If you only have WhatsApp bundles, you can block all apps and just leave WhatsApp to have access. When you put airtime in the phone, only WhatsApp can access the internet, and because you already have a bundle you are not charged for that connection.
I use NoRoot Firewall, it’s for Android, which I have been using for years now. If anyone uses Windows or Apple phones, please advise what app you use. You can download NoRoot from Google Play here.
3. Instant Messaging Platforms
Now that more and more people are using social networks (Facebook, Twitter) and instant messaging apps (WhatsApp, WeChat) it is way cheaper to either call through these services or to send a text message with them. Better still, the networks offer you internet bundles that allow you to subscribe for internet access for these apps for a fixed fee throughout the month. Here are their USSD access codes Econet (*143#), NetOne (*171#) and Telecel (*480).
4. Bulk Airtime Buying
Join hands with colleagues at work or school and buy airtime in bulk, as when you do there is a 6 – 8% discount. When you know what your monthly usage of airtime is throughout the month, just buy it once at the beginning of the month and buy it from airtime distributors.
You could also subscribe to services like EASI and M-vendr, where you “cash in” money with them and get to buy a host of services at discounted prices. M-vendr allows you to not only to buy airtime, but pay for DSTV, TelOne, ZESA prepaid units and a host of other services. To download their app, go here.
5. Airtime Transfer
This is one of our best hacks at NewsVyb that we use (mostly available with Telecel and NetOne).
When you recharge with $2 or more (using a solid card, not the loose $1 airtime) with Telecel your bonus is able to call across networks. However, when you are making calls, that main airtime and not the bonus is deducted first and so sometimes you have the bonus expiring before being used. I solved that.
After you recharge your account with the $2 or more, transfer this airtime (*178, it will cost you 2 cents for any amount) to another Telecel number. Your line can now call people with the bonus on any network and when that airtime is finished, just transfer back the initial airtime so that you can continue enjoying. That way, you kinda circumvent their bonus expiry date.
6. Dual Sim Phone
Get the best of both worlds with the mobile networks, but have sim cards from either of them. All networks have ‘on-net’ calling promotions, bundles that allow you to call people on the same network at a reduced rate. Check at which network most of the people who you call are on, get a sim card from either network and only call people on the same network using your sim card.
7. Network Promotions
As mentioned above, the networks have promotions that will allow you to call, text or access the internet at reduced prices.
Make sure you know what the USSD access codes for each network are. There was a guy who developed an app so that you don’t have to remember each code, you can download it here (again it’s Android).
In a nutshell, for Econet you need to remember *143#, NetOne *171# and Telecel go here.
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