Ever wonder why the big telecommunication companies seem to overcharge you for making international calls? This is why I still have a calling card programmed into my phone to avoid their bloated charges.
I often travel and make a lot of overseas business calls outside of the main Tier 1 countries (U.S. Canada, Australia, New Zealand , Japan, China etc.) and using my native mobile plan just isn’t an option which makes using phone cards essential.
In this article I’ll let you know what a calling card is, how it works, and how to buy one without being overcharged.
How do calling cards work, exactly?
Calling cards essentially trick the big telco companies into thinking that you’re only making a local call when in fact your call is being transferred internationally.
Although the big companies don’t like it, it’s a perfectly legal service.
How to use a calling card in 3 steps:
Step 1: Dial the LAN (Local Access Number)
The LAN will look like a local number and will be followed by an automated prompt guiding you through the call process.
Step 2: Enter the PIN
The 1st prompt will ask you to enter in your PIN number this can be found on the back of the calling card or on the email that was sent to you after your purchase.
Step 3: Dial the overseas number
The final prompt will ask you to enter in the phone number of the person you want to connect to.
Once you’ve keyed in their number you’re connected – that’s it.
3 Quick Tips When Buying A Phone Card
#1: Watch For Hidden Fees
Calling card providers don’t just make money from the cost-per-minute rates, some will look for other ways to make money and these typically come in the form of hidden or additional fees.
The 2 main fees you want to avoid are maintenance and carrier fees these are purely junk fees and you should avoid these types of companies.
There are other common fees that are ok but you should be aware of:
This is a fee that is charged upon connection of a call. I generally avoid these unless the cost-per-minute is lower in this case it may be acceptable.
Sometimes there may not be a local access number available in your town or city so calling card companies will have a toll number that you can call. Sometimes they’re free of charge other times they will cost you a few cents extra per minute.
If you don’t have access to a private landline and don’t want to use your mobile then a payphone is a good option since it’ll only cost a few cents extra per minute.
Tip #2: How many carrier lines do they use?
Like all call technology there will be times where you get poor line quality or worse not able to connect at all.
When this happens it means that the carrier line that the calling card company is using is down.
In this case professional phone card companies will have backup carrier lines that they can use to get you up and running within 30 minutes or so.
Unfortunately, a lot of companies only have one or two carriers so if you get into trouble it can take days, weeks or months before you can use your card again.
Make sure that the calling card company that you’re using has at least 8 carriers or can guarantee that you can get any call issues resolved that same day.
#3. Call their customer service team
I don’t recommend buying a calling card from a newsagent unless you can get that newsagent to agree to give you a full refund should the card not work.
Sometimes they won’t give refunds because they aren’t the actual provider which is not ideal.
Alternatively, I would highly recommend using an online service where you can call them up to ask them questions about their cards.
By calling them up you can see if they’re legitimate or not.