Whether you’re travelling overseas or have moved to another country phone cards are still the best option in terms of cheap reliable calling over mobile plans and VoIP options.
While video calls and mobile plans offer great options there are two main problems:
1. Mobile plans are typically only cheap when calling the top countries (US, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, China, Singapore, Japan, etc.). Everywhere else you’ll see a major jump in price or the free minutes they offer a very low.
2. Video calling or VoIP calling are good options only if you and the person you’re calling have a reliable internet connection.
For this reason people are still using good old fashion phone cards to reach friends and family.
With that said you still need to be a savvy shopper when it comes to finding a phone card because these companies do use tactics to help cover the low costs of their service like hidden fees that are not made immediately clear.
In this article I’ll share with you my best tips for selecting the best phone cards, checklists that I run through whenever I use them when travelling.
How To Choose The Best Phone Card
A connection fee is a fee that is deducted once you’ve made a successful connection, either the person has answered or you get voice message, in either case money will come off your card and then you’re charged the per minute rates.
This is quite common and is not typically considered a ‘scam’ but you need to be aware of this fee.
There are some cases in which a company will use a connection fee but the per minute rate is much lower so that over the course of the call you’re making cheaper calls – this will typically only apply if you’re making longer calls.
Before you buy a card in store you want to get assurance from the vender that if there are any problems with the card that you can bring it right back.
If you are going to purchase a phone card online then you should call the customer service line to see how responsive they are.
Phone cards are technology after al and so with technology there will be times when something goes wrong so you need to know exactly how to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.
Before you purchase your phone card you want to make sure that you check the expiration date, most cards will begin to expire on first use but some may have already expired so be sure to check.
Is the card rechargeable? If you’re planning on using this card for awhile then I recommend using a rechargeable phone card so that you keep the same PIN number.
If it’s a one off use then it doesn’t matter.
Check The Rates
If you’re using a phone card for the long term then you want to be on top of the rates. Before you recharge your phone card make sure that check the current rates as they will change throughout the year.
The cheapest card today can become the most expensive literally overnight, I’ve seen this happen a lot.
Hidden fees are where you will lose money, most companies actually make their money from additional fees which is why they are able to offer “super low calling rates”.
Most phone card companies use similar carrier suppliers and have razor thin margins and in order to reduce their prices to stay competitive they will look to make their money in other places.
These can be in the following areas:
Connection fees – charging you for successful call connections.
Administration fees – typically come in the form of monthly fees, to maintain the upkeep of your card.
Unused credit – most cards have an expiration date and if you’re unable to use up all of your credit then the company will take whatever is left available.
Billing increments – this is when a card will charge you in set increments or blocks for example 10c charged in 3 minute blocks equals 30c every 3 minutes which means if you call for only 1 minute then you are charged 30c.
Breakage – most cards will not let you spend all of the money on your card, for example, if your card is 30c per minute and you only have 29c on your card then you can’t make the call and the company will take the reminder once your card expires.
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!