Thursday, April 12, 2007

3 Easy Steps: Choose the Best Calling Card

Choosing a calling card can seem complicated, but I promise it's not that bad.

1. Know who you're calling
Once you know who you're calling and where you'll be calling from (this one should be easy), you have some key information that will help you select the best card, like:
  • Destination Country (the country you'll be calling)
  • Destination City (in some cases, specific cities have lower rates than general country-based cards)
  • Cell phone or Landline (calls to cell phones are usually billed at a higher rate because of carrier charges, but some cities have cell phone-specific cards that can lower your rates)
2. Check for taxes, connection fees, and maintenance charges
This is where many people get confused - or overcharged. Make sure your calling card provider lists all of the charges associated with your card ( has detailed information and full disclosure for each of its cards - see example). Taxes and payphone charges are mandatory fees that calling card providers can't control, so don't think your provider is ripping you off. Maintenance charges are usually imposed on high-quality cards - customer service and clear call quality aren't free.

While you're doing this, you might also want to look at the billing increment of the card. For example, if a card has a 3 minute billing increment, you use three minutes for each .01-3 minute interval that you talk (so a 5 minute conversation is billed at 6 minutes). If you're mostly making long calls, this isn't all that important.

3. Buy your card
By now you should have found a card that was designed for your needs - it has a low rate to/from where you're calling, and you've checked for any unsavory fees. All that's left is to pay for those minutes and start calling.

Bonus: Local Access Numbers
An access number is the number you call to start your call. Some cards come with local access numbers, meaning that the call will be billed at a local rate (i.e. free) if the number is within your local calling area (example: a (212) number in New York City). Cards with local access numbers usually offer even better deals than toll-free access numbers.

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