Top-Up Cards

Quick links to the relevant instructions of the article:

Q What are Top-Up/Pre-Paid Cards?

PaperCut NG/MF uses the concept of Top-Up Cards or Pre-Paid Cards to provide a convenient way for organizations to issue credit to users. Using Top-Up cards is optional. They are not required for simple quota management or silent logging. Top-Up cards are most suitable in a school or University environment.

The system is simple, fully contained and very cost effective. To give you a bit of an overall picture, the process works as follows:

  1. The network administrator prints a set of customized cards. Each card lists a value, a “valid until” date, and a unique ID.
  2. When a user requires additional credit, they purchase a top-up/pre-paid card. Cards can be distributed from the library, cafeteria or even in the candy vending machine.
  3. The user logs in to the PaperCut NG/MF User interface and enters the card’s number.
  4. The user’s account is automatically credited with the value listed on the card. The card then becomes inactive.

PaperCut NG/MF Software has worked closely with a number of organizations to design the top-up/pre-paid card system. Over the years we have evaluated a number of payment technologies in conjunction with our education customers. These have included vending machines, smart cards, micro-payment systems, and manual processing. The top-up/pre-paid card system has been by far the most successful and cost effective, and is a great alternative or complement to the payment gateway. Top-up / pre-paid cards are also the de facto standard in other areas such as the mobile phone sector (used to handle pre-paid accounts) and iTunes Music Cards. Users, particularly students, will be familiar with the process.

Q How to enable and setup Top-Up/Pre-Paid Cards?

Now the technical part fellow sysadmins… The setup steps are different between Windows and Mac/linux due to the card wizard program being windows-only. This is because it uses Microsoft Word and its Macro language (VBScript) to perform a Mail Merge. Card generation is a once-off procedure and Windows is not required to actually use or operate cards. Administrators running PaperCut NG/MF on a Mac or Linux server can use any Windows system to generate their cards, and once the cards are printed and the numbers imported, Windows is no longer required. The card wizard can easily be downloaded onto any Windows system via PaperCut NG/MF’s web browser interface.

Here’s a link to a video from Allen who’s part of the US support team going through the whole process, If you prefer old fashioned written instructions, keep reading as you will find step by step instructions for windows first, the final section will describe a different process for Mac and Linux…

Video: Windows walkthrough




Windows walkthrough step by step (Note: we also have a section in the manual describing the process for creating cards. If you prefer .gifs, stay on this page).

  • First off, login to PaperCut NG/MF admin console and enabling the top-up card option under Options → General and Enable use of Top-Up / Pre-Paid Cards


  • Download and install the card wizard program from the PaperCut NG/MF admin console: Cards → actions → Download card wizard


  • Card Wizard walkthrough and generating a batch of cards and the generation of the .tnd file which we will import into Word later:

Note: In the Batch ID field, enter a unique identifier to define your batch (this could be a number of your choice but we do recommend adopting a convention that makes sense; i.e choose numbers to represent the date), the cards expiry date and the value assigned to each card.


  • Importing the newly created cards into PaperCut NG/MF via the .tnd file generated in the previous step. Still in the Cards section of the admin console, select import new cards from the actions menu and navigate to the location where the .tsd file was saved:


Now the configuration steps are complete, we’ll show you how a user redeems and associates the card to their PaperCut NG/MF account and how admins can check that the card has been assigned to the end user.

  • User purchases the card which is sent to them via email, they then login to the user interface and select redeem their respective card to credit their account with the amount allocated to the top-up card (value set during the card generation process).
  • The user will need to visit the User interface and login with their credentials.
  • Users will need to select the “redeem card” section in the user interface and enter the card number displayed on their top-up card. Entering the top-up card number will credit their account with the value allocated to the card (in this example £10)


  • Admins can check which card has been allocated to who from the “Cards” section. This is useful to monitor the amount of cards that are still available for allocation and also to plan in advance the creation of a new batch of cards.


Below we’ll give you a quick rundown of the different options available from the Actions menu within the Cards section:

  • import new cards: Used to import a .tsd file from word with new card numbers. It is possible to import multiple batches, i.e a batch for users and another for teachers, the expiry date and value can be defined per batch, which makes the card management easier.
  • expire selected: Select cards to be expired by ticking the box to the left of the card number. For example if a user leaves who was allocated a card, a sysadmin could choose to expire the card. Meaning this particular card couldn’t be re used and the original user would have the remaining value on the card refunded.
  • expire batch: Allows a sysadmin to expire a whole batch of cards without having to select them individually.
  • delete batch: Removes the batch completely from PaperCut NG/MF and would clear the card section completely ready to start fresh.
  • delete used cards: Deletes all the cards already allocated to users and just tidies up the card list for the sysadmin. Note, there are also filter options to hide unused and/or expired cards.



Q Do you have a version of the card wizard that will operate on the Mac or Linux?

The card wizard at the current time is a Windows-Only program. This is because it uses Microsoft Word and its Macro language (VBScript) to perform a Mail Merge. Card generation is a once-off procedure and Windows is not required to actually use or operate cards. Administrators running PaperCut NG/MF on a Mac or Linux server can use any Windows system to generate their cards, and once the cards are printed and the numbers imported, Windows is no longer required. The card wizard can easily be downloaded onto any Windows system via PaperCut NG/MF’s web browser interface.

Alternatively we have created an example Python program that shows how to create your own card import file. As well as the import file you will need to create a print file so that the physical top-up cards can be sold to students or other users. You will probably want to customise the print file for you own organisation.

You can find the program on GitHub.


Categories: How-to Articles, Charging

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