One of the problems when making international calls is obviously the costs, while it is likely you will have cheap or even free minutes to specific countries (usually the top tier nations) when it comes to calling the rest of the world the call charges can make your eyes water.
Once you have eliminated any hope of using your existing mobile plan for making international calls you will now begin to look at the hundreds of free calling apps available following this frustrating 4 step move:
- Find, download and Install
- Find that the app doesn’t have the ability to make the call
After installing and uninstalling a dozen apps claiming to offer “free” calls you find out that the opposite is true.
Finally, you remember hearing about some ancient Sumerian texts mentioning a technology called ‘international calling cards’ after a quick google search you find some websites that look like they were built in the 90s offering calls to any country for up to 90% less than what your mobile provider is offering.
International calling cards are my favorite way of making international calls because they are tried and tested, have been around for decades, and use the good old-fashioned copper phone lines which we use today to make calls from our landlines and mobile phones.
In this article, I wanted to outline the pros and a few cons of using international calling cards.
Cheap than major telcos
International phone card providers buy their minutes wholesale from various carrier providers which means they are able to offer much lower rates than what you would get from your primary telco provider.
I’ve seen savings anywhere from 50% all the way up to 90% depending on the country I’m calling to which is impressive.
One of the cons to buying wholesale is that the quality isn’t quite as high as what you would get from your telco provider in some cases.
This means that you may experience tech issues or in a few cases lower quality audio but I guess if you want the savings then you have to accept some of the downsides as well.
In most cases, though I’ve found the audio to be a par with what the big guys are offering.
I touched on this in the introduction. While you will be able to get free calls to the top-tier countries using your free calling app, chances are that this becomes less likely when calling to developing nations where the internet coverage isn’t as wide and the connection is not as reliable.
The greatest benefit to using an international calling card is that it uses copper phone lines which means it gives you access to virtually anyone on the planet.
No App To Download
It’s unlikely that one app will be enough to call every one of your contacts especially if you have friends and family in different countries. If you use Facebook messenger then you are fine to call people in top-tier countries who are above 50 years old, but if you are calling someone younger then you will need to use a different app.
International calling cards don’t require you to download any specific app or even install a SIM card – you just type in a few numbers and connect to any landline or mobile anywhere in the world. JT, phonecardchoice.com.
One of the cons to using a phone card is that it requires multiple steps to connect a call, for example:
First, you need to call the local access number (this is what connects you to the cheap rates).
Second, you need to key in your PIN number.
Finally, you need to key in the international number of the person you wish to speak to.
This can be challenging especially for the elderly but there are two options available that can make this process a little more bearable.
PIN-free dialing allows you to skip the second step (keying in your PIN number), for this you need to contact the calling card provider and ask then to set you up for PIN free dialing and they will get this organized for you free of charge.
The second trick is for mobile users, if you are using your mobile phone then you can actually program each of the 3 steps so that when you want to make a call, you simply tap the “call” button and it will call the local access number, key in the PIN, and then dial the international number for you – easy!
Buying the “right” international calling card
When purchasing an international calling card I highly recommend buying only from a retailer who specializes in selling phone cards, the reason for this is they are able to ask you the right questions as well as give you the right answers so that you are able to walk away with the best international calling card for your specific needs.
An additional tip is to find an online retailer and give them a call on the phone, this will allow you to check out their responsiveness as well as ask them a few key questions like:
- What is the best international calling card for X country?
- Are there any connection fees?
- Do these phone cards expire?
- Am I able to recharge these phone cards?
- Are there any hidden or special fees I should know about?
International calling cards are an excellent low-cost way to connect with family and friends overseas.
The main reasons I prefer international calling cards over calling apps are:
Cheap (not free)
I’ve found that “free” often comes with a high price tag usually in the form of frustration when it comes to calling apps, I’d rather pay a few cents and have my call connected easily without having to install a dozen different apps.
Connect to anyone
I love the fact that I can just tap the call button and be talking to anyone within a few seconds.
While I have run into tech issues, it is quite rare especially since I work with calling card companies that know what they’re doing and if there is an issue, they are able to solve that issue very fast.