Reload vs. recharge cell phone/mobile - buying more pre-paid call time?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Cracker Jack, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. Cracker Jack Senior Member

    I am starting this thread in relation to one about batteries. I am very much certain that in introducing an amount to a pre-paid cellphones or mobiles when it is on zero balance, the verb used is reload.

    However, I am not sure if the use of the word recharge cellphone is also correct. Most of the time, I hear in advertisements load or reload cellphones. I just don't know it this again is one of those AE-BE differences.

    To me, recharge a cellphone/mobile sound illiterate. Recharging refers to the battery. Correct me if I am mistaken. This is sure way of knowing if it is really acceptable to use recharge a cellphone referring to the account balance on pre-paid basis. Or probably, it is really a matter of AE-BE difference. And the list gets longer.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. laurahya Senior Member

    BC, Canada
    British English
    As far as I am concerned, recharge is definitely for batteries. I have never heard reload for a phone - not for batteries, and not for increasing the money on it, either. For the BE voice, I (and people I know) always say top-up, i.e. I'm going to top-up my phone later. Another one is simply put credit on, i.e. I need to put credit on my phone, I've only got 25p left! Others may have other ways of saying it, though.
  3. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    I've heard "add more minutes/time" in American English. Reload does not sound right to me.
  4. mariposita

    mariposita Senior Member

    US, English
    I wouldn't say "reload" for adding more time to a prepaid cell phone and I've never heard anyone else say it this way. As others have said, I would say that I need to add minutes or buy more minutes.

    I need to buy more minutes for my cell phone. I'm about to run out.
    I need to add more minutes (or time) to my phone.

    I never heard "top-up" in the US, though I would understand what it meant.

    If someone said "I need to charge up my phone" and they meant that they need to add more time, it wouldn't sound illiterate to me, but it would be ambiguous, since I wouldn't know whether their battery was dead or their time was running out. If someone said "I need to recharge my phone", I would automatically think that they were going to charge the battery.

    Edited because my "u" key is sticking!
  5. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I know that the thing that needs recharged is the battery, but if the battery in my phone needs recharged then I need to recharge my phone.

    And like laurahya, if the credit has run out, it has to be topped up. That's what it says on the top-up card:)
  6. Cracker Jack Senior Member

    Thank you very much for all your replies. Now I know that it's none of the above (NOTA) between reload and recharge. Would you say it's awkward? It's got to be top-up/add credit/add time.
  7. asearchforreason Junior Member

    English (USA)
    Just to clarify a few things:

    -"top-up" is BE, I have never heard anyone say that here in the States.
    -I agree with the posters who say they would use "add minutes/time to"
    -Just to confuse you more, there are some instances where "recharge" might be used, especially if it is literally a card that you are recharging. I know some arcades around here have pre-paid cards that you use to play games and you "recharge" them. Of course, you can also "add money to" them. The same could apply to cell phone cards and would probably be understood in context.
  8. mstewie08 Junior Member

    recharge is for batteries.
    reload is for guns
    n for minutes, id say any verb that is a synonym of to get works. get probly being the best
  9. Cracker Jack Senior Member

    Hi ASFR. That was what I was driving at. You hit the target. I was actually referring to pre-paid cards with codes that are scratched with the use of a coin. The cards have specific monetary value and is credited to the cellphone by entering the code. Like the ones they have at Chucky Cheese.

    In this case, is it appropriate to use charge? Nowadays, it is possible to add credit or top-up by means of ATM or on-line accounts. It can also be done through telephones.
  10. danielfranco

    danielfranco Senior Member

    I checked a couple of American pre-paid wireless services and all they say is "buy" or "add" airtime, even when talking about the cards one can buy at the grocery store. Hope that helps a bit.
  11. peysek New Member

    Czech Republic, Europe
    thanks for this useful discussion, it helped me so much. Still I wonder what would be a noun for these (top-up, add/buy time/minutes to/for, buy credit) verbs. I mean sentences like Topping-up (?) this way takes two minutes. Or even worse, if it´s from the other position: Topping-up with the use of terminals appeared in 2002. Or Adding minutes with the use of terminals appeared in 2002. So how can we call the activity, viewed from the point of technologies, companies and branches, not from the custommers´viewpoint? Which would be an appropriate noun to express these new approaches/technologies/branches/process?
    Sometimes it´s easy to avoid the word, if we use another verb, e.g. They started to add (or sell?) minutes in 2002, but sometimes a noun is necessary. Have you got an idea? Thanks in advance.
  12. MissFit

    MissFit Senior Member

    Reload may not be the most common term for adding minutes to a pre-paid cell phone, but I have heard it many times. My husband has such a phone and he calls it reloading when he adds more purchased time. (Granted, he's a firearms enthusiast, so he probably also says that he's reloading the vacuum cleaner when he puts a new bag in.)
  13. charisma_classic

    charisma_classic Senior Member

    English, U.S.A.
    I have never heard of reloading the phone, but you can reload a card ( a calling card or a shopping/gift card, for example) if you pay to have more minutes (or dollar value) added to it.
  14. Meleros

    Meleros Senior Member

    Español - Sevilla, España
    I have found a glossary with a definition for airtime:
    "Actual time spent talking on the cellular telephone. Most carriers bill customers based on how many minutes of airtime they use each month. Airtime charges during peak periods of the day vary from about 20 cents to more than 40 cents per minute, depending on the service plan selected. Most carriers offer reduced rates for off-peak usage."
    And though Google show many results for "buy airtime" or "purchase airtime", I am not sure whether it is correct or not.
  15. laurahya Senior Member

    BC, Canada
    British English
    Topping up is fine, e.g. Topping up using your credit card couldn't be easier.

    The expression top up is fairly specialised, so it's perfectly obvious what this sentence refers to even without more context. (I will stress again, however, that top up is only European English, not American).

    Note: with another noun you can simply use top up, e.g. You have the choice between 3 top up methods.

    Does that help?

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