Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ePassporte To America

The recent and well covered turmoil regarding online funding has left many poker players in a quandary. When the news first broke and neteller pulled out of the US market I researched my options and decided on Click2Pay as my payment processor of choice. Wouldn't you know it, as soon as I complete my sign up they decide to leave the market.

Left with only one viable alternative I sign up for ePassporte. I wasn't looking forward to the fees but beggars can't be choosers. I was however pleasantly suprised over what I've discovered so far.

The current landscape is very rocky for payment processors and last thing I want is to have my money tied up in someone else's bank account. There is no guarantee that the money is any safer with the online poker rooms but fool me once, yada, yada, yada.

My current plan is to leave my bankroll with the rooms and only use the processor if I have to transfer money between sites, or I'm ready to make a withdrawal. To facilitate the withdrawal portion of my transactions I decided to get a physical visa/atm card from ePassporte.

The fees mentioned on their site left some room for interpretation so I set out to lock in what I'm in for. The whole process begins with the sign up which was not without its snags. I decided to fund my account with my visa check card. This should have, and to be honest would have been painless If I hadn't messed things up. I originally was going to deposit $300 in the account and when I clicked on the accept button to move onto the next screen, the "Verified by Visa" screen came up. At this stage I decided I didn't want to put $300 in the account. I felt better with only $100 to start with so I clicked the back button on the browser and reentered the smaller amount. I was again presented with the "Verified by Visa" screen but lo and behold Visa wouldn't verify. A quick call to the fraud prevention section of Visa and I was able to complete the transaction. Turns out by navigating away and back again with different amounts throws up red flags and my account was locked.

My account was now funded with $95. Ninety-five you ask? Didn't I deposit $100? Why yes I did but here we encounter our first fee. Five dollars for every one hundred deposited is removed as a funding fee when using a credit card. The fee for depositing with a checking account is $2 but I didn't want to wait the two weeks for my account to be verified before depositing. (My checking account has since been verified so I can use this method if I so chose in the future.)

When the account was established I was issued a "virtual" visa number that could be used for online purchases at any retailer that accepts visa. Since my Verizon bill was due I decided to test out this feature and was able to make the payment with ease, and without any fees.

Depositing to Full Tilt, PokerStars, Absolute, and UltimateBet went without a hitch. Again no fees. Full Tilt claimed there would be some fee involved with the deposit but I've deposited twice and have not paid any.

Withdrawals worked from all sites without any fees as well. From Full Tilt the withdrawal took about two hours while Absolute and Ultimatebet took closer to twelve.

Getting my money out in a timely fashion was very important so I paid the $35 fee to aquire a physical visa card to use in stores and at ATM's. The card arrived after about 2 weeks and I headed to an ATM to make a withdrawal. The ATM machine charged me a $2 fee for the withdrawal but I would have had that fee even with my checking account ATM card. ePassporte claimed on their site that there would be a $2 fee to use the ATM function of the card but I was not charged this. I then took my card to a store and made a purchase. Worked fine and no fees from ePassporte.

Overall I've been very happy with the experience. I've had to pay much less in transaction fees than I had anticipated and I'd recommend ePassporte if your still undecided on which way to go.