When it comes to making international phone calls we have a plethora of options available to us and they should all be used based on their specific strengths.
For example, if you are calling countries that have a well-developed telecommunications infrastructure then calling apps are perfectly fine, on the other hand, if you are calling countries that are less developed in this area then you may want to lean more towards international calling cards.
Personally, I tend to lean on international calling cards most of the time since I know for sure that the people I call have mobile phones and can accept phone calls whereas if I’m using a calling app I need to remember which specific app they are using, using an international calling card simplifies my communication in a big way when calling family and friends overseas.
There is one thing to consider when buying international call cards and that is the purchasing process – that is, it is not as simple as choosing the calling card with the lowest per minute rate, in fact, that is probably the worst thing you can do.
In this guide, I’m going to share with you my best tricks and tips on how to find the best international calling card so you get the best call rates with the least amount of headaches.
Choosing An International Calling Card
Like any product or service, the price (or in this case the cost per minute) is actually one of the last considerations you should make, obviously you don’t want to go for the highest but you need to be aware of other factors and then based on those factors try to find the best value calling rates.
Look At Your Calling Patterns
I recommend reviewing how long you intend each call to last, are you making short calls around 10-15 minutes or are your phone calls likely to run past 40 minutes?
The reason for this is that a lot of calling cards come with connection fees and all calling cars come with different billing increments, let’s cover the easy one first, connection fees.
A connection fee is a fee that is deducted from your calling card balance the moment your call has successfully connected either by voice message or someone picking up the phone.
Typically I recommend avoiding international calling cards that come with a connection fee because sometimes you can have a technical fault, for example, a cross line which is when your call is redirected overseas to another country now when that person picks up the phone it’s not the person you want to speak to but you were still charged the connection fee or sometimes you will dial the international number you will hear the dial tone and it’ll keep ringing and you were still charged because the system thinks that your call has been connected.
“This is not such a big issue if you’re dealing with a reputable calling card company because they will re-credit your account without issue and resolve the problem” – JT, phonecardchoice.com.
The upside to having a calling card that comes with a connection fee is that some calling code companies will actually offer you a reduced per-minute rate which means that overall even with the connection fee you can walk away with some really competitive permanent calling rates but this is only viable if you are making long-duration phone calls if your phone calls are within 30 minutes then it probably won’t work out since most connection fees take around 30 to 40 minutes for you to break even before you start really getting those Supercheap calling rates.
Most international calling cards don’t actually charge by the minute they typically charge in blocks for example if you have a calling card that has an incremental billing block of 3 minutes and the permanent rate is 10 cents a minute then every 3 minutes you’ll be charged $0.30.
Another way to word this is if you’re call asked a minute you would still be charged the entire $0.30 so you need to be aware of these billing blocks.
Ideally, you want to get the lowest incremental building blocks as possible anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes is great but I have seen calling cards with 10 to 15 minute increment billing blocks which is pretty insane.
Watch For Hidden Fees
I think most first time consumers never take the time to fully read the fine print on the back of the calling card they intend to buy, I know I didn’t.
The downside to this is that you are going to experience a lot less call time than what you had actually purchased.
For example, some calling cards deduct money from your phone card at regular intervals (daily, weekly or monthly) just for having activated your calling card.
Look at the small print and ask the retailer if there are any special fees associated with your card and avoid buying calling cards that come with daily service charges unless you are only going to be making one call and then disposing of your phone card.
Dodge Unit Based Calling Cards
Make sure that the currency on your phone card is calculated in your native currency, some calling card providers will use a completely made up currency for example, “banana points or dollars’ which makes it difficult to actually know how much money you are spending.
Country And Region Specific Calling Cards
Most calling card services will offer region-specific options, for example, Africa calling card which offers good rates on calls to Africa, but as always do your due diligence and read the small print, and check the rates from other international calling cards because you may find that these region-specific calling cards are more expensive than the others.
Check the expiration date on the calling card.
Most international calling cards will activate upon first use which means that is when the expiration date begins, but some cards may have a set expiration date which could already have expired, so check wit the retailer here, if the card has expired most retailers won’t have a problem refinding your money.