By the time you start making a lot of money at online poker, you’ll have a great idea of how the e-cash system works. But if you’re new, here’s a quick primer. It’s much different than just shopping online with your Visa or Mastercard.
First off, don’t even bother using your credit cards at online casinos. If you’re a US citizen, chances are that your credit card company has blocked online gambling purchases anyway. Even if you haven’t been blocked or you’re not a US citizen, there are much more efficient ways to deposit and withdraw money. The most popular options are Neteller and Firepay—more on these two later.
Many novice poker players are afraid that they won’t be paid. DON’T WORRY ABOUT THAT. Online gambling has become such a thriving business that casinos could never get away with not paying their customers. Although it might take a little longer depending on the casino and the method of payment, rest assured that the money you win really is YOUR money, and you’re going to see it.
Moving on, here’s an explanation of the most popular e-cash options:
Neteller acts as an e-cash middleman. It’s a Canadian company with no direct ties to any government or poker room/casino.
After you sign up at Neteller.com, you have two options for depositing money. The first option is making a deposit with a credit card. Although a fee is administered, it’s only a small fee. The second option is transferring money from your bank account. This involves registering your bank account with Neteller, which will take three days or more to verify. That’s because there’s a period of communication in which Neteller makes two deposits of less than a dollar into your account, and you must check these figures to make sure everything “works.” Once your bank account has been verified, you can transfer money through what’s called an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), which takes about three business days. To compare these two options in terms of time: credit card deposits take about 15 minutes, while bank transfers take about a week. Decide what’s best for you, and what you’re more comfortable with.
There are two good methods of withdrawing money from Neteller. After you credit back any credit card deposits, Neteller can just send you a check, or they can EFT the money back to your bank account. Even if you deposit using a credit card, it’s a good idea to register your bank account with Neteller for the withdrawal advantage. You can transfer your poker room winnings to Neteller within one day, and you can transfer your Neteller money to your bank account in another three business days. That’s usually faster than waiting for a check.
Firepay acts as an online debit card, and can be found at Firepay.com.
How to deposit: you can’t with a credit card! You must verify your bank account with Firepay and then write the company an “e-check.” In other words, you tell them how much to deduct from your bank account and they do it. The process is instantaneous, which is one definite advantage Firepay has over Neteller.
How to withdraw: Firepay will EFT your money back to you. This, however, is where one major disadvantage figures into the equation: they’ll charge you $10 for the EFT service. In addition, it takes several days. A third consideration is that you have to wait six business days after your last deposit to withdraw any money. For these three reasons, we recommend Neteller over Firepay. The decision, of course, is up to you, but $10 per EFT is too steep for our liking.