Purchasing Games & Apps with Smart’s Pay-With-Mobile for iOS

In a nutshell, Smart’s “Pay-With-Mobile” service gives you the power to make purchases from iTunes and the App Store (for Apple users) and Google Play Store (for Android) by providing you with a virtual credit card that is linked to your postpaid plan.

While it has been around since last year, I noticed that not a lot of people are using it – a shame, really, since it’s a great alternative to using credit cards or iTunes prepaid cards to purchase apps (among other things). Articles about it (in blogs and in the news) are also relatively few, so I’m guessing many are not even aware of it. This article is an attempt at spreading awareness, because I really think it’s an awesome service that more subscribers should try out.

 

IMPORTANT POINTS

While you can find all there is to know about Pay-With-Mobile in Smart’s website, I find their page a bit taxing to read. So if you want a quick look at what this service is, go through the points below.

  • Eligibility: Smart subscribers with postpaid plans 300 and up
  • Monthly Limit: your postpaid plan’s credit limit or Php 3,000 (whichever is lower)
  • Scope: iTunes and the App Store (iOS), Google Play Store (Android)
  • Exchange Rate: whatever rate followed by Mastercard at the time of purchase
  • Convenience Fee: 15% of the purchase value

 

HOW TO USE PAY-WITH-MOBILE

  1. Register by texting “REG” to 4949. A confirmation message will be sent to you.
  2. Get your account details by texting “GET” to 4949. You will receive the following:
    • virtual credit card number,
    • CVC / security code, and
    • expiry date.
    • (Take note of and secure these details.)
  3. Edit your payment details:
    • Follow this trail:
      1. Settings
      2. iTunes & App Store
      3. Apple ID
      4. View Apple ID
      5. You may be asked to type in the password for your iTunes account.
      6. Payment Information
    • Choose Mastercard.
    • Type in the virtual credit card details sent by Smart.
    • Make sure your address is in the Philippines.

 

PROS AND CONS

We’ve been using Pay-with-Mobile for about a year, and I don’t really see us shifting to another payment method for these reasons:

  • Convenience – Prior to using this service we had to buy iTunes prepaid cards if we wanted to purchase something from the App Store. Now there’s no need to go from one store to another looking for the iTune card with our preferred currency and amount. Its convenience also lies in the fact that purchases you make are added to the current month’s statement from Smart. You can pay them off at the same time that you’re settling your monthly postpaid bill (no separate billing problems).
  • Spending control – The limit set by Smart is undoubtedly lower compared to the usual credit card limits, so the risk of overspending on apps and in-app purchases is low.
  • Security – J and I are not fans of putting credit card details out there. If we can we resort to other payment methods just to be safe. Pay-With-Mobile may seem similar to using a credit card, but because of its limitations it is a safer alternative.

While there are many perks to using this service, there are also drawbacks, such as the following:

  • Limited scope – You can only purchase from the App Store (includes in-app purchases) and iTunes Store. This means you can’t fully take advantage of apps that do not allow purchases in-app. Good examples of these are Spotify (where you need to sign-in via browser if you want to go Premium) and Kindle (books can only be purchased via Amazon and cannot be done in-app).
  • iBooks problem – The iBooks catalog in the Philippines is VERY, VERY, VERY LIMITED. Before Pay-With-Mobile I was able to access US content, but now – since my Apple ID already has a Philippine address – I only have free titles to choose from.
  • Higher cost – As mentioned before, Smart charges an additional 15% for every purchase you make, so it’s more expensive than using a credit card.

 

A POTENTIAL PROBLEM 

Before I was able to use this service I encountered a problem with changing my Apple ID account details. I used an iTunes card to make purchases previously, and there was a remaining balance of less than a dollar. I don’t know if Apple fixed this issue now, but back then you can’t change your payment details if your credit isn’t zero. I had a few cents – $0.03, if I recall correctly – left in my account, and getting rid of it proved to be tricky. A problem like this has two solutions: (1) purchase something, or (2) just forfeit the money. I chose the latter simply because it’s impossible to buy anything with 3 cents. I sought help from Apple Support, and the rep I talked to was able to process my request quickly. After that it was just a matter of editing my payment details according to the instructions I received from Smart.

 

All in all, Smart’s Pay-With-Mobile is worth considering if you are looking for a convenient way to purchase games and other apps without using a credit card.

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