Friday, August 3, 2007

The Truth About Access Numbers

That calling card you just picked up has a toll-free number printed on it. Should you use it?

How on earth will you choose a card to call back to the US while traveling or living abroad?

Why did your 100 minute calling card only last for 20 minutes?

Ah, the mysterious access number. Why are there so many, and why are they so complicated? The short answer is: lots of phone company business and technological things. What you should know: your access number (that is, the number you dial first when beginning your call - as opposed to your destination number, which is the phone number of the person/business you are trying to read) can have a big impact on your calling rates.

Suppose you get a card that has a local access number (a number that you can call without incurring long distance charges) and a 1-800 number. Chances are, you'll get a better rate by using the local access number - your calling card company has to pay less to route the call, and they will pass that savings on to you.

If you are buying a calling card online or buying a card in a different location than the one from which you will be using it (buying a card in New York to use in Paris, for instance), make sure the card has a local access number for the city/country in which you'll be using it. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches if you have to use the card from a pay phone (or as a guest in someone's home - you don't want your host to be billed for your calls), or from a location like a hotel that might block toll-free calls.

Many cards come with multiple access numbers, so see what options are available to you before you purchase. (I strongly advocate buying your calling cards online anyhow- no card to lose, and you save money on printing/marketing/shipping costs since there's no physical card.)

Some great ones for travelers or anyone who makes frequent calls from outside the US to anywhere around the world are the World Cards from World Calls, World Europe, and World Access have incredibly low rates for calls from 40+ countries to anywhere in the world. For more information on these cards, visit to view a list of the supported origination countries (the country you'd be calling from) and search for the best rate.

For help selecting the best calling card, you can always leave a note in the comments! I'm more than happy to help you find a card to meet your needs.

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