Casinos have been attractive destinations for gamblers for centuries but, no matter how far back you go, there’s always been some sort of barrier to entry involved. Whether it was the physical location and historical dress requirements of land-based casinos over the years, or the difficulty in opening funding accounts with early online casinos, there was usually some sort of obstacle to be overcome by eager gamblers.
Those days are, happily, gone. It’s simply never been easier to enjoy online casinos than it is today. There are a number of factors involved in that – changing regulatory environments, better specialized software providers, and the rise of mobile devices among them – but the biggest factor from the point of view of most players is the huge increase in ease of use with online casino payment methods.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to master online casino payment methods: the options available to you, details of specific payment solution providers, and some points to watch out for when making your decision. Let’s start with a brief bit of background.
The world of payments and money in general is inevitably drifting towards purely digital solutions. The last decade has seen an explosion in the number of payment methods available generally in this regard and the online casino industry has been quick to adopt certain solutions as standards. It’s a commitment to their customer convenience that’s paid off – the online casino industry as a whole has grown to be multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.
Where you would previously have been limited to a very strict range of accepted credit cards or direct bank transfers (often with onerous fees and conditions attached), these days gamblers of all levels are free to choose between a genuinely large range of options when it comes to getting money both into and out of their accounts.
The arrival of stable e-wallet solutions in the last decade has played a big part in forcing credit card companies to up their game and were quickly adopted by the majority of casinos. PayPal was the obvious gorilla in the room at the dawn of e-wallets but they’ve quickly been joined by a number of equally useful alternatives in the last five years in particular. We’ll step through some of the leading contenders below.
The other huge change to the general payments landscape in the last five years has been the fully-fledged arrival of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. We’ll cover these in detail below also. They’re an increasingly attractive option as they continue to integrate with more traditional payment methods.
Generally speaking, these days you can expect to be able to use a range of payment options to fund your casino accounts and stay in control at all stages.
Before we get into the actual options open to players, a quick word of warning about payment methods generally. As with any financial area online, you’ll want to be sure you’re taking some basic precautions. Here’s a quick checklist of what to look out for:
- Check the background of your casino: Perform your basic due diligence to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable outfit before attempting to set up payments.
- Check small print and fees on all sides: Payment providers are not in the charity business so there will always be associated fees and small print involved in the services they provide. Make sure you fully understand these before you start actually playing.
- Stick to established payment solutions: Payments is not an area where you want to be taking chances. Stick to established solutions like the ones we outline below.
The first, and most obvious option to consider for funding your online casino account is traditional credit cards. These are the most popular option for very good reasons, it’s hard to beat the combination of flexibility and security they provide and virtually every single online casino will accept cards from at least one of the major providers.
The option of access to additional funds in general is also an attractive one but it’s obviously not something you’ll want to base your actual game play on. Let’s step through the main providers in the space:
- Visa: Visa bring a nearly unrivalled track record of security and stability to the table and have been one of the “Big Three” credit card providers for pretty much as long as they’ve existed. Regardless of where in the world you happen to be, some sort of Visa card should be relatively easy to arrange either directly or through offers run with your local bank.
- Mastercard: Mastercard is the other big beast of the credit card jungle and offers a very similar range of benefits to Visa. Maintaining accounts with both credit card providers is a sensible strategy for having an easy backup in place at all times. Obtaining a Mastercard account should be more or less as straightforward as with Visa.
- American Express/Amex: American Express used to be practically the only game in town and – though their stature has slipped slightly over the years – they’re still a credit card company that will be happily accepted at the majority of online casinos and throughout the wider world both on and offline. American Express are also justly famous for the range of additional benefits and services that they offer their customers.
- Prepaid cards: Credit cards are a wonderful way of funding your casino account but that constant easy access to credit can be a disadvantage at times. You’ll find that most providers (or even your local bank) will offer prepaid cards as an option these days and for many people these hit a perfect sweet spot. You’ll be able to take advantage of the ease of use of standard credit card functionality but still stay in total control of overall budgets and not be tempted to slip into the red.
The emergence of e-wallets has been something of a democratizing force in terms of putting purchasing capability in the hands of pretty much anyone with a bank account and internet access.
Credit is off the table with these options but they’re a fantastic way of managing your money online and being able to transfer money and accept payments. Here’s a quick list of the main providers:
- PayPal: PayPal were the original online e-wallet and – though they’ve no shortage of critics – you can make a fair case that they’re still the best. The payments giant provides a quick and secure way of making and accepting payments in seconds worldwide and account setup is relatively straightforward.
- Skrill: Formerly known as Moneybookers, Skrill is the leading contender in the most recent wave of e-wallet providers and have made particularly big inroads in Europe.
- Neteller: Founded in 1999, Neteller has been around the block and back at this stage and has slowly established itself as an extremely secure and reliable online wallet. You won’t necessarily find it accepted as a funding method in as many casinos as PayPal but it’s a solid option.
- WebMoney: Though it’s headquartered in Russia, WebMoney offers e-wallet services worldwide and has the added advantage of not requiring a bank account or credit card to operate an account.
Bitcoin, our last option on the list, is still under the radar of many casino users but it’s an interesting option to look into if you’re both relatively tech savvy and have a suitable appetite for risk. Since exploding onto the scene in 2009 Bitcoin has made quite a name for itself as an almost transaction fee-free way of instantly transferring money that confers significant advantages in terms of anonymity.
In order to get set up to actually use Bitcoin, you’ll need to jump through some hoops in terms of setting up online wallets (ideally with a reputable provider such as Coinbase). Once you’re up and running through, actually connecting Bitcoin as a payment method to an online casino that supports it is relatively straightforward.
The one major risk to mention with using Bitcoin is the attendant currency fluctuations which can be alarming at times. That’s a level of uncertainty (and potential upside!) that you’ll need to factor in if using this payment method but for some gamblers that will be a tempting option.
Users of today’s online casinos are truly blessed by the amount of options they have for funding their accounts. We’d generally recommend setting up at least two of the options we’ve mentioned above to make sure you’re covered and not totally reliant on one funding method at any given time.
Clever account management will also give you access to a potentially exciting range of signup and wider bonuses on both the payments and casino side so you could be in for some nice additional payoffs if you play your cards right in that regard.
Good luck out there on the tables!
Check Out Our List Of Top Account Funding Options!