Phone card tips for first time users

February 14th, 2010

“I’ve never used a phone card.  What do I need to know before I select a calling card?”

I spoke with a customer this weekend who was a first time phone card and international caller.  It reminded me that while our knowledge revolves around phone cards, many are still unsure about how to pick the best one for their calling needs.  Before you buy a card you should define your calling need so you can make the best calling card purchase for your money.

Here are a few questions you should answer to help you select the best phone card:

How often will you use your phone card?

Knowing how often you plan to use your phone card will help you narrow your choices. If you plan to use your card two or more times per week, don’t rule out cards with additional fees. If you plan to use your card once per week or less, then a flat-rate no fee card may be in your best interest.

How long do you plan on talking for each call?

This is another helpful tip that can help you decide between a phone card with fees and one with no fees. Long talkers usually get the most minutes out of a card with fees. Short talkers usually get the most minutes out of a card with no fees. The tipping point between long calls versus short calls is usually between 25 and 30 minutes per call.

Will you be calling a landline or mobile phone?

When you do a rate search for your calling destination, you’ll see that there are two different rates: one to a landline and one to a mobile phone. Most mobile phone rates are anywhere from double or triple (sometimes more) than the landline rate. This difference is due to how most international mobile phone providers bill their users for incoming calls. Most people outside the US have free incoming calls on their cell phones, so when a call is placed to them, someone has to pay for the call to be accepted. This cost defaults to the person placing the call, hence the increase in the rate. It’s best to know the type of phone you’ll be calling so you can choose the card with the best rate per minute.

Once you’ve narrowed your choices done to a couple phone cards, do the math to see which card will be most cost effective for you. Click here to read how to do phone card math.

Once you’ve chosen your phone card, how do you make a call?

When you purchase your phone card, you’ll receive the dialing instructions for that particular card.  It is important that you read those directions as not all phone cards work exactly the same.

In most cases, you need to dial the access number for your card, the PIN, then the number you’re trying to reach.  Some cards, though, ask you to press the pound (#) key after you dial the destination number or PIN.  So please make sure to read these carefully before proceeding with your call.

When placing an international call with your phone card from the US, you usually need to dial in this manner:

011 + Country Code + City Code + Number

You do not need to dial any zeros between the 011 and the country code as you would, for instance, in Europe.

Also, if you’re dialing to a mobile phone, some countries have you dial something other than a general city code.  For example. the customer I was helping this weekend was calling her son’s mobile phone in Guatemala.  When calling there, you would dial 011+502 (the country code for Guatemala)+ 8-Digit phone number.  Mobile phone numbers begin with either a 4 or 5.  I was able to help her understand how to dial the number properly so she could reach her son.

Phone Card Coupon for Week of February 15th

Through February 28th, take $1 off your purchase of a new phone card or recharge from ZapTel this week in honor of Valentine’s Day. 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 February 28, 2010.

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 14th, 2010 at 10:00 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. 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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