Phone Cards for international Calls

There was a time, before phone cards, when long distance and international calls – even to friends and relatives - required a good amount of preparations. Everyone making international calls had to back-calculate:

• How much money do I want to spend on this international call?
• How many minutes does it give me?
• And what do I need to talk for this many minutes?

Sound funny?

Yes it does in today's world, where phone cards are making long distance and international calls cheaper day by day. Phone cards were first introduced to make long distance calling easy and convenient. One could make long distance and international calls from any phone using these cards. Then came the price war between the long distance operators and the cost of calling using phone cards started coming down significantly compared to post-paid phone connections.

Phone cards offered today come with different facilities and operating modes:

• Some need a PIN to activate.
• Some need a call to be placed from pre-registered numbers.
• Some need a call to be placed on a toll-free number first to dial long distance, or
• A combination of two of more of the above.

Modes of payment also differ from operator to operator

• Some cards can be used only as pre-paid ones. Once the minutes allocated for the value of the card are over, the card is of no use.
• Some cards come with the facility of "filling in minutes" by paying an additional amount once the allocated minutes are consumed.
• Payments are generally accepted over the Internet or in collections centers in cash or via credit cards.

Phone cards have, no doubt, made international calls more accessible and cheaper. But still, differences in service and rates offered by various operators exist. Hence, it is advisable to shop around a little before buying a phone card. Some of the factors one needs to consider are:

• Reliability of the operator: Many fly-by-night operators also came in to the phone card business looking at the response rate and the market size. Avoid them.
• Service quality of the operator: Check if the calls can be connected at any time and if the line and voice quality is really clear.
• Rates: Rates offered by operators differ from state to state and country to country. They may also depend on the time when you call – higher at the time of peak traffic. Hence, check out where you are likely to call most and then decide on your operator.

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