Last year, Alan Masarek made news as he left Google to become Vonage’s new CEO.
In this day and age with cell phones everywhere, VoIP services bringing down long distance charges, and all of the other wonders of modern technology at your finger tips, it is natural to look at older technology and ask the question, "Are calling cards still relevant today?"
The answer depends on your circumstances, but quite often calling cards may not only be a good option, but they may be your best option.
When first introduced, a calling card was a physical entity that would be used like a credit card with an amount stored on the card itself. Today, we have what are known as virtual calling cards. They can be purchased over the internet using a credit card.
The information to use the card is sent to your email address. Usually this information contains a PIN number and a list of access numbers that you can call to gain access your services. To use your card, you dial an access number, key in the PIN, and then dial the destination phone number.
While this may be quite a bit of work just to make a phone call, in many situations it can save you money, and, in the extreme, it could save even more than that. The first benefit is that many times the rates on a calling card are significantly cheaper than some of your other options for long distance. Sometimes calling card rates can be even cheaper than VoIP services.
If you travel a lot, it can be a very wise idea to keep a calling card handy. Just make sure that the calling card you have never expires (or at least know when it expires). Depending on where you purchase the card from, some expire after a certain time limit. These may have even lower rates, but if you don't use them, you lose them. You want to find a company that offers cards that never expire.
Another benefit is if you find a company that can avoid the long distance charges of your home, cell, or other phone lines. Because of the cheaper rates, you can use the local activation number of your calling card account, to circumvent the long distance rates that you might otherwise have to pay.
This can be particularly beneficial if you travel out of the country. In this situation you can use your cell phone to contact an access number to avoid higher rates.
Some companies have the ability to activate a number of phones so that you don't have to deal with a PIN number. This will speed up your calling and save you money at the same time.
If you travel to places where your cell phone does not have coverage, having a calling card can be a life-saver when you find yourself in an emergency situation. If you travel to foreign countries, not only can you get cheaper rates, but you won't have to worry about currency conversion factors.
Are there any downsides to the use of a calling card? Of course there are, this depends on where you get the card from, and the terms that are tied to it. First, be sure to obtain one from a reputable company.
Check the company out. Next make sure that the amount on the card never expires. Some companies provide cards that do not expire even when the account is empty.
This is very good when you find that you are stranded in a town that doesn't have cell access, you can reload your card from a payphone and be up and running again. Also make sure that there are no hidden fees, no extra charges, and no maintenance fees.
So, back to the question, "Are calling cards still relevant today?" If you travel frequently, if your cell phone long distance rates or other landline long distance rates are too expensive, then they may be more than relevant, they may be a necessity.