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Friday, 11 February 2011

How to get your Etisalat or Mobinil mobile phone topped up from abroad

One of the issues we have had to contend with over the past couple of weeks is (a) shortage of cash (ATMs completely empty in many parts of the city) and (b) shortage of mobile phone topup scratch cards which were simply unavailable for a while and which are now being sold at a high mark up - 10LE vodafone costs 13.5LE and 10LE etisalat costs 13LE. I don't know about Mobinil since I don't use that network.

Anyway, in case there are any problems getting hold of cash and/or mobile top-up scratch cards, I thought I would let you know how you can get a friend or relative to top up your Etisalat (and apparently Mobinil) phone from abroad if necessary (cash or scratchcard shortage). (Doesn't work for vodafone).

The person abroad can do it on and can get you 100LE for about 18 euros which is about £15 or $25. Once the credit is paid for, it should appear more or less instantaneously. Be sure to follow through ALL the screens. This is quite a high mark up but when cash is in short supply, the ability to not have to use cash is a huge bonus.

We have found the only way to do it is to get a Wall-e card and use that to pay. The site claims you can pay with credit card but haven't been able to make that work from either the UK or Egypt. Maybe different from the US? There are other methods listed on the site but I guess you have to have those things set up already.

Wallie cards can apparently be bought in shops such as WH Smiths or Clinton Cards though friends in the UK had difficulty - I think this is related to the ID requirements being so tortuous. The UK site for wallie cards is

They can be bought on line on a couple of on-line gaming sites, but they require evidence of ID and phone calls so again, can be difficult if you don't want to start emailing copies of passports or ID cards around the place!

Anyway, two of those on-line gaming sites are: and

I had no joy buying from either of those from Egypt. The companies are both complete jobs worths - even if you are paying with verified PayPal, 3D security on credit cards, and even though I have spoken with my cc company in the UK and they are aware of the situation. Both companies wanted scans and emails of all sorts of things - passport, utility bills, credit cards - not good in a crisis. My friend buying from the UK just had to accept a phone call.

For some reason they refused to phone me on a UK mobile which I have with me or an Egyptian landline. One person here apparently had no problem but maybe he was able and willing to send scans of his passport and credit card to random strangers! Of course, with our internets blocked for 5 days we wouldn't have been able to do that anyway.

Might be worth you passing this on to friends/relatives out of the country.

PS - also worth noting that in Egypt you can transfer money from mobile to mobile (on the same network) so if you send topups to your friends in Egypt, they might be transferring it on to others - if you think they're using a lot ask if that's what they are doing.

Added 2nd October 2011:  apparently you can top up Egyptian Vodafone from abroad using this company:


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