Calling Cards - Shop and Compare Rates

What are Calling Cards? What do they do?

Calling cards, also known as phone cards, are prepaid cards used to pay for phone services. They are often shaped like credit cards, but today it is not always necessary to carry the physical card. As long as you have the correct telephone number to dial and your PIN, your calls should work.

Phone cards are good for calling areas you have no consistent service in, such as international destinations. On the opposite side, calling cards are also useful for travelers who wish to call home. They can be used from landlines, mobile, or payphones.

A calling card can work in three ways.

The first is a stored-value phone card. When the card is used for a telephone call, the system makes a physical alteration to the card to update the balance. These were used on public payphones with card readers.

The second type of calling card uses a remote memory system.

The balance on the account is read by the system when you enter a toll-free number into a phone. The calling card is more of a symbol of the account, though it will list the required info and numbers on the back. Remote memory cards are cheaper in general, but they have many digits that need to be entered before your call is processed.

The third type has no physical presence at all. Virtual phone cards are really accounts with no associated card. Virtual cards can be bought online, and delivered via email. These phone cards are either prepaid or direct debit.

Calling Cards Prices

Calling cards prices can be especially confusing beyond the stated rate per minute. Billing Increment? Maintenance Fee? Communication fee? What are they? A way to get more money than you knew you were paying.

A USA phone card can advertise 1.38¢ per minute for calling the UK, but with all the hidden fees the rate will be more like 2.9¢.

On a prepaid card with set amounts, the true rate will affect how fast the card is used up.

Domestic vs International Calling Cards

Rates vary between calling landline and mobile phones (often countries outside the USA), mobile numbers being more expensive. The gap can be especially wide in less developed nations.

Rates also vary between countries, like the above example of USA to UK. In fact, it matters which direction you call from. UK to USA can be far more expensive than vice versa.

Domestic cards vary in rates simply because of the service. Make sure to read the fine print and pay attention to charges and fees.

If you're interested in more information on calling cards and a comparison of phone cards, we recommend for comparing calling cards.