Using Phone Cards while Traveling

May 17th, 2011

“What should I know before buying a global phone card?”

Phone cards are a great way to stay in touch with your family while you travel.  Before you leave the USA with your phone card, though, there are a few questions you should know the answers to so you can effectively use your phone card while abroad.

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?

Some ZapTel phone cards can be used from your computer to make calls. 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. Click here to see ZapTel’s internet dialing phone cards.

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 May 16th

Through May 30th, 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 May 30, 2011.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 at 7:53 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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