When it comes to interacting with family and friends who live overseas, we have so many different options at our disposal thanks to platforms like Google Play and iTunes you can run a quick search and have a calling app ready to go within minutes.
While there are so many options at our fingertips, there is one other option that, in my opinion, surpasses the others when it comes to making international calls.
Some say that this technology is obsolete, while others argue that it will still be important in 2023.
So, what exactly is this “obsolete” technology?
International calling cards
Remember when you used to buy phone cards from your neighbourhood newsstand, scratch the back of the card to reveal the PIN number, and then make calls on a public phone? Those phone cards, yes.
“Things have changed a little in recent years (instead of going to the newsstand, you can now buy virtual calling cards online and have them sent to your email in minutes), but international calling cards still work in the same way.” JT, phonecardchoice.com
For example, you’d call your local access number, then your unique PIN, and finally the international number of the individual with whom you want to talk.
What’s the point of using calling cards in the first place?
While calling applications are easy to use and the major selling point is that you can make free calls, this is a difficult key differentiation to match. They do, however, have a basic drawback in that they are only helpful for dialling people who live in high-tech countries.
Using these calling apps to reach countries like Austria, France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and other similar countries is a fantastic idea since you can call people with reduced latency, call dropouts, and so on.
However, you will have a dreadful calling experience if you call less developed countries or rural areas inside developed countries.
The biggest advantage of using calling cards is that the technology has been around for a while; international calling cards use the same copper phone lines as your home or mobile phone.
Even individuals living in the most remote or impoverished places are likely to have access to a landline or mobile phone.
The issue with business cards (and a simple trick to resolve it)
There are two downsides to calling cards, one of which is plainly more severe than the other.
The first issue is the extra steps required to make phone calls, such as keying in the local access number, then the PIN number, and finally the overseas number; this is a tedious task for many and a roadblock for those who have difficulty seeing or keying in all those numbers without making an error.
If you use a mobile phone, NZ Phone Cards has a handy guide on how to deal with the problem, which involves programming each of the steps into your contact address book so that when you want to call someone abroad, all you have to do is tap on their contact number and your phone will walk you through the entire process – a real lifesaver for those who struggle with the standard process!
The downside of buying a calling card is that you have to get it from a reputable source.
I’ll go into more detail on how to avoid being ripped off later in this essay, but suffice it to say, throughout the years, calling card firms have devised innovative ways to defraud their customers.
Calling card alternatives
When it comes to making international calls, we have a number of options, including calling software, which is one of my favourites.
When I travel, I often use calling apps since they are not only inexpensive but also allow me to conduct video calls, which calling cards do not allow; this is perfect for reaching out to families.
Insider suggestions on how to avoid getting duped when purchasing a calling card
I’ll simply touch on a few crucial issues here since I travel a lot and have purchased a lot of calling cards, so you won’t be caught off guard if you intend to buy a calling card to make international calls.
Keep an eye out for any hidden expenses (especially daily service charges)
Avoid daily service fees, which are really trash fees designed to extract money from consumers while delivering no additional value.
A daily service fee is a payment that is deducted from your phone card at predetermined intervals. This deduction begins as soon as your phone card is activated and continues until all of the credit has been depleted.
You’ll be racing against the clock to use up all of your calling credit before the calling card provider takes it all away.
This would also enable a calling card business to promote a “no expiry” feature, as the phone card will eventually be set to zero.
Look for client service.
This is the most important thing to keep in mind. Check to check whether they have a customer service department so that you can get assistance if you have any problems.
I strongly advise using an online calling card provider because it allows you to contact them to get a sense of their expertise and ask them questions like their return policy, which card is best for the country you’re trying to call, are there any special fees, what happens if your phone card has a technical problem, and so on.
Examine the billing intervals
Even if a phone card specifies that it costs 1c per minute, it may begin invoicing you in bigger billing amounts. For example, if you have a phone card with a billing increment of 15 minutes, you will be charged 15c every 15 minutes, even if the discussion is just 1 minute long. This implies that you were charged 15 cents per minute.
Pay attention to the billing increment rather than the per-minute fee.
Look for calling cards with billing increments ranging from one to three minutes.