recharge (top up) mobile phone

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Daffodil100, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. Daffodil100

    Daffodil100 Senior Member

    Chinese
    The text I quoted is the English instructions from China Mobile Limited, which is one of the two major mobile phone service companies in China, about how to top up a mobile phone .

    The word -recharge is used to charge electricity only instead of money. Am I correct?

    Thank you!
     
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    No, Daffodil. Your text uses "recharge" to talk about money. When you "recharge" an account, you pay the company more money so that you can continue to use the phone service.
     
  3. Daffodil100

    Daffodil100 Senior Member

    Chinese
    Thank you very much, Owlman.
     
  4. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    This is the way they're using recharge, but they probably should have found a better word. :) As we progress in the Age of Technology, we find that words are being used for new and different purposes ... not always to best advantage.
     
  5. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I agree with Copyright. It's clear what they mean, but to me they're using the wrong word. I would get confused with the use of "recharge" to mean "recharge your mobile phone battery":(.

    Owlman, would you say "recharge your account" is now normal usage and I (with my hankering after "top up") am just behind the times?
     
  6. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    California
    English - US
    I think it is not the times but the place that makes the difference. There are several discussions in which BE speakers refer to "topping up" their phone cards, and AE speakers respond by saying that they had never heard this use. Here are a couple of them:

    I hadn't had the chance to top up
    top off / top up
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010
  7. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Thanks, Cagey:). So the normal AmE term for adding money to a mobile phone account would be "recharge"?
     
  8. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    Hello, Loob. I don't like "recharge" here either. I agree with Copyright that there are better words out there for this. In talking about my own account with my service provider, I usually just call it "paying the phone bill". :)
     
  9. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Thanks, owlman:). That said, "paying the phone bill" works for me when you're talking about paying for calls which have already been made, or when you pay a monthly fee which gives you unlimited calls. I'm assuming, though, that what's at issue here is putting money into a pay-as-you-go account so you have credit to pay for phone calls as and when you make them. Is there a word in AmE for that?
     
  10. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    That's a good question, Loob. I'd call it something awkward like "depositing more money in the account". That's probably too clumsy for people who do this often, which may explain the use of "recharge" here. After mulling this over, I can't think of anything that sounds better. I came up with "refresh", "renew", and "refill". None of these sounds like an improvement to me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010
  11. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Thanks again, owlman:). It seems that our collective advice to Daffodil is that "recharge" is slightly odd when the meaning is "add credit to an account"; but that while BrE has the handy term "top up", AmE doesn't have an obvious equivalent.

    (I suspect there's a cultural difference here to do with use of pay-as-you-go mobiles:D.)
     
  12. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    Loob, this is right on point: ...but that while BrE has the handy term "top up", AmE doesn't have an obvious equivalent.

    Cagey mentioned other threads in which the Americans all replied that they'd never heard the term used this way. I hadn't either, but I'd sure understand it if somebody told me they had to "top up" their phone account. I'd probably use "top off" with the same meaning, which is what I use for gas tanks, etc.
     
  13. airportzombie

    airportzombie Senior Member

    Toronto
    English - CaE/AmE
  14. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Thanks, zombie - very interesting:).
     
  15. kitenok Senior Member

    I am one of a minority of Americans with a pay-as-you-go cell phone. As luck would have it, I just got an email from Verizon with the following reminder:

    In other places, they speak of "adding minutes." I expect that in most situations, I would use some variation on this "adding minutes" theme. They don't say anything about recharging anything, but I'd understand them if they did. If they said something about "topping up your account," I would understand them only because I read this forum.
     
  16. Daffodil100

    Daffodil100 Senior Member

    Chinese
    Thank you very much for your input, everyone. :)
     
  17. Gabriel Malheiros Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    Do you use "recharge a prepaid account" in the US, in Canada or in the UK? Or credits? Like when you run out of minutes, do you say your "credit" ran out?

    Thank you
     
  18. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    California
    English - US
    When the number of minutes on my prepaid phone runs low, I talk about 'adding minutes.'

    The option the phone offers to enable me to do this is 'Refill.'
    I would be surprised to hear this in ordinary conversation.
     
  19. Gabriel Malheiros Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    Would you be surprised to hear what? "Refill" "recharge" or "credit"?

    But what do you say when your minutes run out? Refill what?

    Thank you , Cagey!
     
  20. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    California
    English - US
    I would be surprised to hear someone say, "I have to refill my phone / my minutes."

    I have never let my minutes run out, but I suppose that I would say that I have to buy some minutes.
    In the more normal situation, when I have some minutes but not enough, I would say that I have to add minutes, as I said above.

    (I don't use 'refill' because the number of minutes is never 'full'. There is -- as far as I know -- no upper limit to the number of minutes a phone can have. This is not to say that I think it's wrong for speakers of BE to use it. It sounds different to them.)
     
  21. Gabriel Malheiros Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    And recharge(or evern refill) with the words prepaid account? Do you use that? Recharge (refill) a prepaid account?
     
  22. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    California
    English - US
    No, as I said above, I add minutes.
     
  23. Gabriel Malheiros Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    Ok, thank you!
     
  24. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Do you say 'add minutes' even when you are thinking of a certain amount of money? Here, we top up our cash cards, travel cards and mobile phones here with amounts of money.
     
  25. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    California
    English - US
    I think we only 'top up' things that hold liquid.

    I'd probably say that I was going to "put $20.00 on my phone", if I had that amount in mind. However, the charge per minute varies from phone to phone, so the amount paid doesn't really tell us the time available. It may be relevant if the focus on is the amount of money you have available to spend in this way.

    As kiteniok says above [post 15], few people use prepaid phones, which may be one reason we don't have a common term for those transactions. I've never heard people talk about 'cash cards' or 'travel cards'. We do have 'prepaid credit cards', which may be the same as 'cash cards'. I would expect people to talk about 'putting money on' them, though I could be mistaken.
     
  26. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I was thinking of cards that pay bus, tram (streetcar) or metro (underground, tube, subway) fares - such as the Oyster card in London - and other kinds of cards where you can put in money. Wikipedia calls them stored-value cards:
    I suppose everyone would understand 'put money on' or 'add money to'. We 'top up' all these things here.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2016
  27. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    As often as I've heard "top up," it does have the suggestion that you fill something to capacity. But with the Octopus Card in Hong Kong, the capacity is HK$1,000 and is supposed to go to HK$3,000 (US$128 and $385, approximately), so I don't see most people putting the maximum amount of money on their card. Still, I don't suppose we have to be literal here.

    I generally use "put some money on" or "add some money to."

    As for "minutes" on SIM cards, smartphones can access the Internet, so the idea of "call minutes" is somewhat swept away as people switch from calling (local and overseas, plus special rates between you and other users of the same network) to surfing to uploading Facebook photos and the like. You never know how much all of that is costing you until you run out. :) So I would probably default to the paragraph above this.
     
  28. Gabriel Malheiros Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    Copyright, but when you say "add minutes/money to", "put money on", do you say "cell phone" or "account"? Like: add minutes to my cellphone/ my prepaid account"?.. or maybe if I use "cell phone" as an adjective? "add prepaid cell phone minutes"?..I found this on T-mobile site: pay as you go plans allow you to add more cell phone minutes when you need them.

    And what do you mean by "So I would probably default to the paragraph above this"?
     
  29. Copyright

    Copyright Senior Member

    Penang
    American English
    The paragraph above that one is this:

    I generally use "put some money on" or "add some money to."

    I have to add some money to my phone.
    I have to add some money to my card.
    I have to put some money on my card.
     

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