Phone Card Discounts & Tips. Don't pay more.

The Truth About Phone Card Rates & Fees

Phone cards can be lifesavers, but watch out for low rates and high fees as shown in the following table.

Phone Card
Connect Fee
Maint. Fee
Call cost 10 min. 9 sec.
Company A
3 min.
Company B
6 sec.

You can use the following phone card selector to find the right phone card. Simply select the countries and click on Go. After a few moments, the SpeedyPin website will display in a new browser window. You can then order phone cards with rates as low as 2¢ per minute.

Prepaid Phone Card Rates
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I stumbled across a unique offer for a 1 day phone card with Unlimited domestic phone calls for $1.

You need a phone card if you are not at your own phone, if you are using someone else's phone and you don't want your phone call charges to appear on their phone bill, or you are calling from a pay phone and don't have enough change. You can use cards in most any country in the world.

There are two ways to pay for cards, pre-paid or post-paid. Post-paid cards are usually referred to as calling cards. Either phone cards can be a real physical card that you buy from a store or a virtual card bought over the Internet or over the phone. When you buy a virtual card from a company like SpeedyPin, you receive an access phone number and a PIN (personal id number) via email. They provide an easy to use seach capability that will show you a half-dozen phone cards per category. You will then need to find the card that suits your needs related to destination and fees.

Connect fees
Some companies charge a $1.00 or more connect fee per call. Sometimes there will be a no fee for domestic calls, but a charge for international calls.

Maintenance fees
Some phone card companies charge a fee weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

Phone Card Expiration
Phone cards expiration dates vary. They can expire after 30, 45, 60, 90, 180, or 365 days from the first day used. You need to check the expiration for each brand of card.

Payphone surcharge
Phone cards are great when you need to make a call from a pay phone, but don't have enough change. However, every phone card that I have seen, whether pre or post paid, adds a surcharge of about $0.50 to each payphone call.

Yep. Death and taxes are always with us. Pre-paid phone cards have all taxes built into their face value, i.e. a $20 card may have a 10% rate. On the other hand, post-paid phone cards add on the taxes to your bill.

Pre-paid phone cards
There are two types of pre-paid phone cards. The first type you purchase is an actual, physical phone card from a store, kiosk, vending machine, or just someone selling them. The second phone card is a virtual card that you buy over the Internet or from vendor. You do not receive an actual paper or plastic phone card.

Both types of phone cards have an access phone number that you call to use the card, as well as a special code number that identifies the specific card. A physical card has these access and code numbers printed on the card. On the other hand, when you buy a virtual card, you receive the access and code numbers via email or phone call. I just write them both down on a piece of paper and put it in my wallet.

You purchase either phone card for a fixed price that varies by country, i.e., 5 U.S. dollar, 15 Israeli shekels, 60 Italian lira, etc. The destination and length of calls that you make will determine how many minutes your 60 Italian lira buys.

Once you use up the minutes on the physical card you throw it away. On the other hand, you can add minutes to the virtual card by paying more money via the Internet or by phone call to the vendor.

Post-paid phone cards a.k.a calling cards
You can obtain pos-paid cards from many vendors, including your local and long distance phone carrier. You may be given a physical card or just the access and specific code. At the end of each billing period, you will receive an itemized invoice with the amount charged to your credit card. The useage rates are generally higher than your direct dial rates.

You can buy international phone cards at most airports, train stations, and special kiosks.

Even if you have a cell phone, it's a good idea to have a phone card. Who knows when your batteries will die or if you are not getting good cell reception.

Direct Dial vs. 10-10 number vs. Phone Cards
Many people like the convenience of direct dialing a long distance number. Others don't mind dialing the extra few numbers of a 10-10 service. And still others don't mind having to dial in an access number and pin number before dialing the actual phone number. I personally use CogniWorld because it has low domestic rates, low rates to both Israeli landline and cell phones, and has no monthly fees or minimum useage. Plus, when my wife or daughter make a call, they probably wouldn't remember to use the 10-10 or a card. When you make a long distance call from home, do you want to just pick up any phone in the house and dial or do you want to hunt for your card access number, id, and PIN, then dial all these numbers, and finally dial the actual phone number?