Find the right phone card for when you travel

December 31st, 2007

"I will be traveling outside the U.S.  What would be the best card for me to purchase?"

ZapTel offers a variety of global phone cards to choose from depending on the destination of your travels.  There are a couple things to keep in mind when purchasing a global phone card.


What kind of phone will you be calling from?  Hotel, Payphone, Mobile Phone or Cruise Ship?

Many hotels, payphones, cruise ships and mobile phone services may block the usage of phone cards. 

If you are staying at a hotel or will be traveling on a cruise ship, it is best to find out first if they allow phone cards to be used from their phones.  Also, you will want to find out if the hotel or cruise ship will charge you a room fee for picking up a phone in one of their rooms.  The last thing you want is to see phone fees on your checkout statement because of the hotel or cruise ship’s policies on using their phones.

If you are traveling with a mobile phone from the U.S., you will need to find out from your provider whether or not they will support your service while you travel.  If you are traveling with either a U.S. cell phone with International service or an International mobile phone provider, you will need to ask whether they will allow the usage of a phone card.

In the U.S., payphones do not block the usage of phone cards.  Instead, the FCC mandates a surcharge that is paid to the payphone provider for their equipment being used to make the phone call.  Internationally, though, the situation may be different.

Some carriers Internationally impose a high surcharge per minute or call for using a phone card from a payphone.  Others block usage all together.  Unfortunately, there is no way for us to know what carriers do what internationally.


What will your calling needs be?

If you plan to call home often and have your calls last longer than 30 minutes, it would be best to go with a phone card that may have additional fees with a lower rate per minute.  The Global Line and Global Caller cards both have additional fees associated.

If you plan to call home frequent or infrequently and have your calls last less than 30 minutes, you may benefit better with a flat rate card like the Absolute World, Absolute Global, Study Abroad Student’s Choice or True North.


Can you recharge your card while you’re traveling?

ZapTel’s website is accessible 24 hours a day by internet.  The True North, Study Abroad Student’s Choice and Global Line phone cards are rechargeable.  The Absolute World, Absolute Global and Global Caller require a new PIN to be purchased once your card has been used.  If you have internet access while traveling, you will be able to recharge or purchase a new PIN at any time.


Would you like to use your computer as a phone?

ZapTel carries two phone cards that allow you to use your computer as a phone: Call the World and International Student’s Choice.  Both of these cards can be setup to place calls using a software program on your computer with a broadband connection in lieu of a cell phone or land line.

The call quality is quite good, but will depend on your computer and internet connection. Best of all, calls placed over the Internet can be made from any place in the world, with the same rates as calling from the US.

Setting up Internet calling on your phone card is free and easy.  In order to use Internet Dialing you will need a broadband internet connection as well as a PC with Windows 2000 or better or a Mac with OS X 10.4 or better. In addition to a compatible computer, you will also need a microphone and speakers connected to your computer.


So where should you go from here?

The next thing you should do is a rate search for the countries you will be calling from and to.  To find more information about the cards, click on the card names and review the specifications to find the card that best fits your calling needs.

For more answers to your global calling questions, click here.


Global Phone Cards Available


Calling Card Coupon for Week of December 31st

Through January 6th, receive a 5% discount on any purchase or recharge of a True North or Study Abroad Student’s Choice phone card from ZapTel. Use the following code to receive the discount:


Enter the coupon code on the Review Your Order page, and be sure to click the "Add Coupon Code" button on the page to apply the discount. Offer expires at Midnight Central Time on January 6, 2008.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 31st, 2007 at 8:42 am and is filed under Phone Card Tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

15 Responses to “Find the right phone card for when you travel”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    January 28th, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Italy to Italy from my US cell phone While traveling in Italy, I need to be able to call ahead to our next destination in Italy to confirm arrival time. I have a US Sprint cell phone. I don’t need to call the US while I’m in Italy…just between cities in Italy. If my provider allows your calling cards, which one would enable me to do that. And what do I ask sprint about allowing it? They do not have an international plan.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    January 28th, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Re: Italy to Italy from my US cell phone If you would like to use your mobile phone from outside the US, the first thing you will need to ask your provider (in Barbara’s case, Sprint) is if they will support service to your cell phone while you’re there. If there’s no signal to provide service to your phone, then a phone card won’t work from it.

    You may need a SIM card to unlock your phone, but I’m not certain that you can do this with Sprint phones. This is more common with T Mobile and Cingular/AT&T cell phones as well as others.

    For your need, Barbara, what I would recommend is the Absolute World phone card. It is 13.5 cents per minute within Italy. I would suggest that you use it from either a hotel or pay phone to check in with your next location. Payphones may impose a surcharge per call or minute, but if you’re just checking in with your next location, it may be worth the cost.

    Many times, mobile providers block service to phone cards or, in the case of a woman I spoke with earlier today, may impose a large surcharge per minute to place the call, even with a phone card.

    There are cell phones that you can rent while you’re abroad, but they may cost you more than you’d like to pay. If you’re only going there on vacation and aren’t planning to stay for very long, then a phone card would be much more affordable than a cell phone rental.

    I hope you enjoy your time traveling in Italy!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    May 3rd, 2008 at 10:36 am

    I think the best solution I think the best solution for you is using an Italian sim card or global sim card in a rented cell phone. Even if Sprint allows you to make calls in Italy it would be extremely expensive.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    May 24th, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Have you thought about Have you thought about renting a satellite phone? If you travel the Italian countryside or backpacking in remote areas of Europe.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    June 3rd, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    broadband Broadband in data communications can refer to broadband networks or broadband Internet and may have the same meaning as above, so that data transmission over a fiber optic cable would be referred to as broadband as compared to a telephone modem operating at 56,000 bits per second.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    July 7th, 2008 at 5:34 am

    phone Phonecards or calling cards are available in most countries in retail stores, retail chains and commonly corner stores.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    July 8th, 2008 at 4:25 am

    When buying Italian sim When buying Italian sim cards it’s best to get them in Rome, it’s much cheaper.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    August 13th, 2008 at 4:28 am

    You can save the most money You can save the most money on cell phones when buying prepaid cell phones at your destination.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    November 7th, 2008 at 10:40 am

    reply International callback cards are perfect choice for travellers. The rates are very cheap because they are using computer systems to connect call originations and destinations.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    November 8th, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Re: Reply Thanks for the great recommendation. Are you talking about callback cards that are purchased while abroad or in the US and then taken abroad? I’m asking because we’ve had customers who have purchased from us who didn’t like the callback cards so much.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    November 30th, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    I always have problems in I always have problems in finding the right phone card for when I am traveling. There are phone companies that have great deals for Europe, others have some for Asia or Africa… Your article is very helpful, even if my next travel will be a Mediterranean cruise… I don’t think I have signal in the middle of the sea.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    December 9th, 2008 at 9:36 am

    It is very informative Hey,

    It is very informative post, thanks for the links to global phone cards too, that is what I was searching for… Got it here,

    rome accommodation

  13. Anonymous Says:

    January 10th, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Phone Card… When i arrived in US my husband both me two phone cards from Austin, that i can used to call home, it called “INTERNATIONAL” its really nice, if the party your calling did not answer after 5 rings and you hang up it wont charge. But, all I know there are lots of calling cards that can be bought in host country, you don’t need to bring one.>lasik

  14. Anonymous Says:

    January 24th, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    hello Its very good thanks..

  15. Anonymous Says:

    February 11th, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Thank for sharing this. It Thank for sharing this. It really helps while traveling.

  • « Older Entries
  • Newer Entries »