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International Phone Cards

Everything You Should Know About Phone cards, Calling Cards, and Calling Accounts:

Phone cards, also known as calling cards and calling accounts, have become the most economical way to save your hard earned money when calling International destinations.  In the past, there was only one way to make an international long distance call and that was by using your phone company’s long distance service.  This meant very expensive international long distance rates loaded with fees and followed by a monthly bill which was often a shocker.  Phone companies then offered “international long distance plans” that lowered the international calling rates to more reasonable prices but that came with a monthly fee to enjoy those rates.

At the same time, numerous calling cards were offered in a multitude of places such as small grocery stores, convenience stores (e.g. 7 Eleven) and mostly, ethnic grocery stores.  Each calling card claimed to be the best and the cheapest calling card you can buy but none of them lived up to such claims.  The statement “best phone card” means different things to different people, and the statement “cheapest calling card” was almost impossible to verify due to a combination of shady terms and undisclosed phone card fees or calling surcharges.  This meant that it was impossible to compare various phone cards in any meaningful way.  Additionally, most of those calling cards offered decent calling rates to ONE or TWO places while charging above average calling rates to the rest of the world.  So unless you call one place, and only one place, you may find yourself giving back much of the savings you made when calling one place by paying high rates calling the other. 

The biggest problem with such calling cards was the unusually high rate of the issuing Calling Card Company or International Long Distance Company “going out of business” or discontinuing the service for a phone card you just bought.   Many people found themselves left with a $10 or $20 laminated card that give you nothing but grief for the money you lost.  Tens of such shady ‘fly by night” calling card companies would come and go in a timeframe of weeks or months making people wonder whether they were ever legitimate or they were simply collecting money for phone cards and calling services that they never intended to support.

As the internet has become the medium of choice for retail, many calling card companies moved their activities online.  Instead of getting a physical phone card that you can hold in your hand, you buy a virtual calling card (or calling account) where the PIN number is emailed to you.  Such phone cards are called PIN-Based phone cards.   Calling card companies will offer you toll-free or local access telephone numbers to access their phone card system.  You will then be asked for your PIN number and that will allow you to gain access to your calling account.   You are then directed to dial your international long distance phone number and you are connected.  Another phone card system, an easier system, is the PINLESS calling card.  This system allows you to register your phone number with the phone card company (without having to change your local or Long Distance Phone Company).  Once you dial their access number, the phone card company will sense your phone number (similar to how Caller ID works) and will give you instant access to your calling account.  No PIN or access code needed. 

Note: United Globalnet's International Phone Cards offers the convenience of ONE ACCOUNT that gives you both kinds PIN-Based and PINESS phone card features.  There are no fees, no surcharges, and no taxes whatsoever.  United Globalnet's International Calling Cards offer one minute rounding.  United Globalnet's International Calling Cards offer a universal card with one rate to each locale.  Instead of buying a calling card for each country, you buy one calling account and you get the best rate to each and every country in the world. 

United Globalnet's International Calling Cards is so confident of the quality of the service that it absorbs the cost of any call made that is of unsatisfactory quality as long as you terminate the call within the first minute.  You do not have to contact United Globalnet for a refund.  If the call disconnects or you hang up within the first minute then the call is FREE!  

Phone Card Call Rounding:

An interesting trick that some calling cards do is to have rather high increments for minute rounding.  You would expect the calls to have increments of ONE minute since you are quoted the rate per minute but some phone cards see it differently. While they quote you the calling rate per minute, the calling increments can be up to 5 minutes or more!  Therefore, if you are making a quick 30 second call to your international destination,  let's say calling India, then the cheap calling rate per minute is irrelevant because you will be paying 5 times that rate!  Let's say that the phone card is quoting you the rate to call India of  5¢ but that same phone card is also doing 5 minute rounding.  Then, for that quick 30 second call, you will be charged 25¢.  You will be paying the same amount if the calling card disconnects your call in a few seconds!  So not only did your call get interrupted seconds after you call India, you are also paying the phone card's  5 minute calling rate to India as well. Not a bargain phone card or a cheap calling card after all.  With that same calling card, if you talk for 5 minutes and one second, you will be paying the 10-minute price and you will pay the same if that cheap calling card disconnected you seconds after your first five minutes of calling India as well.  So for the example above, using that cheap phone card to call India will cost you almost twice as much as what you would have calculated according to their calling rate to India.  You will pay 50¢ for a  call to India that should cost you around 25¢-30¢.  Phone card companies who do this will offer very low calling rates since they make much of that by rounding your call up to the nearest 5-minute increment and other calling tricks as well.  Therefore, the  cheapest India phone card may may end up being a lot more expensive than other India calling cards with cleaner terms but higher published calling rates.

Calling Cards Minute Calculation:

When you purchase a phone card, you have certain international destinations that you intend to call at calling rates that you have looked up.  You then figure out an approximate number of minutes you expect based on your purchased calling card balance.  When you dial your international destination, the phone card will often tell you how many minutes you have for the call.  After you start talking, and well before using the calling minutes you were expecting, you hear a notification that you only have one minute remaining!  How can that be?  Welcome to phone card minutes that are different than the normal minutes we all know.  Calling card minutes can be any number of seconds that the phone card company has set.  United Globalnet calling cards use the normal (and universal) 60-second minutes but not all phone cards do the same.  Some phone cards set their minute to be 50 seconds, 45 seconds or even lower!  So, when the phone card says that you have "X" minutes to call Egypt for example, while setting the minute to be made of 45 seconds, then that phone card just ate up 25% of your calling time regardless of where you call or how long.  So, if your Egypt phone card quotes you 10¢ per minute to call Cairo, or to call Egypt anywhere else, while the same phone card sets its calling minute to be made out of 45 seconds, then the calling rate for your call to Egypt just went up by 30%.  If you call Egypt for 10 REAL minutes, that cheap Egypt phone card counts those 600 seconds as 13.3 minutes.  Your cost for this call to Egypt is not $1 as you would expect but you will find your calling balance dropping by $1.40 if the calling card round up to the next minute.  If your cheap Egypt phone card  rounds up on 5-minute increments then that's $1.50 taken from your balance...a 50% increase over the calling rate you expected.  Effectively, your minute rate to call Egypt is now 15¢ per minute.

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