PHONE CARD DOCTOR: Using global calling cards from more than one international country

January 12th, 2009

"I used the card in one country, but now it’s not working from the next country.  How can I fix this?"

There is one very important thing to remember if you plan to use a phone card from more than one country: make sure you have all the access numbers for the countries you’ll be calling from.

Since every country uses different phone number formats, all phone cards have different access numbers assigned to each country.  Before traveling, I recommend that you bring all the phone card access numbers for the different countries you’ll be visiting.

If you’ve used a phone card from one country without trouble, but find that you’re having trouble from the next country you’re visiting, there could be a few things happening.  Here are some hints to fix this:


Make sure you’re dialing the correct access number.

Double check to make sure you’re dialing the right access number from the right country.  The access number for Germany won’t work in France.   You can find the access numbers for your phone card in one of two ways:

  1. Log on to your ZapTel account with your e-mail address and password, and click on the link that says Access Numbers next to your PIN.
  2. Look up the name of the phone card you’ve purchased on the ZapTel site.  The names of the cards cab be found under Products on the direction  bar at the top of this and every page on  the ZapTel site.  Once you’ve clicked on the name of the card, select the tab that says Access Numbers.  You can either type in the name of the country you’re looking for in the search box or look up the name in the list of countries.


Double check the notes next to the access number to see if there are any restrictions.

The carriers publish some restrictions with certain access numbers  (i.e. some that will work only with  a certain phone provider).   This is also where we list any feedback we’ve received from customers about their experience with certain countries and access numbers.  This is a great place to look for suggestions about your call origination.


If you’re using a pay phone, try to use a different pay phone.

Many international pay phone carriers will either block phone cards from being used or will impose very high surcharges that will come off the balance of your phone card.  We can’t do anything to make them not do this.  In the USA, the FCC regulates this for us by imposing a per call surcharge that comes off the balance of your phone card.  Outside the USA, though, this can vary from country to country and carrier to carrier.  Many customers have told us that if their phone card does not work from one pay phone, they’ve tried a different one and their calls connected.


If you’re calling from a hotel, ask the front desk if they block phone cards or toll free numbers.

Like pay phones, many hotels abroad may block phone cards as well.  I always recommend to our customers that they ask the hotel first before purchasing a phone card to make sure that the card will work.  We cannot do anything to make them remove this block.

Another thing you’ll want to ask the hotel is if they will charge your room for placing a toll free call.  Be careful - some will and will charge your room a per call or per minute fee for using your phone card.  The international charges will come off the balance of your card, but the hotel may still choose to bill you for using their phone equipment. 

If the toll free number is blocked, see if the hotel will allow you to use a local access number for the card.  The True North and Study Abroad Student’s Choice both have some local access numbers available from select countries.  You will want to double check this number as well to make sure that you won’t receive a bill from the hotel at checkout for dialing it. 


If you’re still having trouble, let us know.

Contact us at and one of our Customer Service Representatives will work on the issue for you. 


Read our Global Calling Frequently Asked Questions for more information about using phone cards from outside the USA.


ZapTel Global Phone Cards Available


Phone Card Coupon for Week of January 12th

Through January 18th, take 5% off your purchase of a new phone card or recharge of a global phone card as listed above. 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 18, 2009.

This entry was posted on Monday, January 12th, 2009 at 8:57 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.

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