Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Calling Cuba – Cheap International Calls to Cuba

A popular but relatively costly destination to call from the USA is Cuba. There are several low cost options for making international calls to Cuba but they cost from $0.70 to more than $1 per minute. This is still a pretty hefty rate for most people. However we do know of one popular option that costs around $0.50 per minute. SpeedyPin has a special phone card for making calls to Cuba and this card features rate that is less than $0.50 per minute. They also have a phone card that can be used to make calls to Cuba from Canada and other countries for a little over $0.50 per minute. It seems like these cards also offer good quality since people tend to use them over-and-over again. Speedypin also offers a money back guarantee so you can get a refund if the card does not work for you. We recommend trying a small denomination if you want to make low cost calls to Cuba.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Calling to Moscow or all of Russia

Moscow, Russia is a popular destination and there are a variety of options for making low cost calls to Moscow from the USA and Canada. People who make regular calls to Moscow and already have a high speed INTERNET connection should consider an international VoIP calling plan since several of them offer unlimited calling to Moscow for one low monthly fee. We suggest Tel3Advantage for people who make frequent calls to Moscow from cell phones or regular telephones and want both high quality connections and low cost. Tel3 Advantage can be used from any type of phone without changing companies and the rate is only 1.5 cents per minute including all fees and taxes. Other prepaid calling products advertise low rates but they also add additional fees so the actual rate is typically higher than Tel3. People in the USA and Canada use Tel3 to make low cost calls to almost any country. It is a prepaid long distance plan with no activation or maintenance fee. An account can be opened with as little as $10 by using a major credit card or PayPal. For further information, visit the Tel3Advantage website or contact Tel3Advantage directly at 800 441 0321. They are currently offering a sign-up bonus of up to $9 for new customers.

There are also several different phone cards with very good rates on calls to Moscow or anywhere in Russia. These can be purchased in small denominations and used from more than 130 countries. Calls can be made to Moscow from the USA or Canada with international phone cards for as little as 0.6 cents per minute. Remember, this is the advertised rate. The actual rate will likely be 1 to 1.5 cents per minute after factoring in Fees and Taxes. That is one reason why we normally suggest using Tel3Advantage.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Phone Card Terminology

Many find phone card jargon confusing so we decided to write a short summary of phone card terms with some easy to understand definitions. We have also added some tips on how to spot phone card tricks and how a consumer can use them to their advantage. The phone card world can be confusing but it can also be navigated if a consumer is armed with the correct tools. The first thing to remember is that the advertised per minute rate for a phone card does not include the added fees and taxes mentioned below. Therefore, a consumer should estimate the impact of these when shopping for a phone card.

Prepaid Phone Card

Most phone cards are prepaid in preset denominations. These can be as low as $1 or $2 or as high as $100 or more. A customer purchases a predetermined denomination and the cost of each call is deducted from this amount until the card is empty. The amount of money or minutes left on a phone card can normally be determined in a customer’s online account if purchased from a website or it is stated when dialing an access number to place a call.

Phone Card Access Numbers

This is a phone number that is dialed in order to place a call when using a phone card. Some phone cards have a wide network of access numbers in multiple countries while others will have only one access number in one country. Phone card access numbers will vary between phone cards. Most phone cards offer both toll free and local access numbers but will charge extra for using toll free access.
Tip: Check the availability of access numbers before making a purchase. Be sure the card has access numbers in the area or country where you plan to use the card. Ideally, the phone card should have local access in the location where you plan use the card.

Phone Card PIN Code

Phone cards will typically have a PIN code that is entered when placing a call. The simply dials an access number, enters a PIN code which identifies the phone card they are using, than dials the number they wish to call. Many phone cards feature what are called permanent PINs and PIN-free dialing. A permanent PIN means a customer can add money or recharge the phone card when it is empty so they can continue to use the same PIN code. PIN-free dialing refers to cards that can be used without dialing a PIN code. A PIN-free phone card allows the user to register their phone number (sometimes several phone numbers) so their account is identified by caller ID technology when they call an access number and they do not need to enter a PIN code when placing a call. A PIN is still provided for PIN-free cards so calls can be placed from unregistered phones like pay phones or hotel phones.

TIP: PIN-free dialing or permanent PIN codes are great for people who plan to use a phone card on a long term basis from their home or cell phone. This is a very convenient method of having nearly seamless low cost long distance phone service.

Phone Card Billing Increment or Interval

This is also referred to as rounding interval. This refers to the time interval used when calculating the cost of a call. Billing increments are typically 1, 3 or 6 minutes but they can be higher so beware. In most cases the shorter the interval the better because the cost of a call is rounded to the next billing increment. For example; A 1 and ½ minute call is rounded to 2 minutes when a phone card has a one minute billing interval but it is rounded to 3 or 6 minutes if a phone card has a 3 or 6 minute billing interval respectively. This is a method used to charge a customer a higher rate or hidden fee for a call by billing them for call time not actually used.
Tip: A short billing interval is more important if a phone card is used for several short calls. If you are planning to use the phone card for one or two long calls than the billing interval can be used in your favor because most phone cards with high billing intervals also have low per minute rates.

Phone Card Connection Fee

This is a fee charged for connecting a call and it is charged each time a call is placed and connected. The caller will pay this fee in addition to the cost of the call based on the call length (billing increment) and any other listed fees. Phone cards with a connection fee should be avoided unless the card is only going to be used for one or two very long duration calls.

Phone Card Maintenance Fee

A phone card maintenance fee is a fee charged by the phone card service provider for keeping the card active. The maintenance fee is charged after a period of time that may vary but is typically one week (weekly), two weeks (bi-weekly) or monthly. A maintenance fee will not be charged if the phone card is fully used before the end of the stated time period. Therefore, phone cards with maintenance fees should be purchased and fully used immediately in order to avoid unnecessary added charges.

Phone Card Surcharge

Many phone cards add a surcharge or charge a tax for each call. This will typically be stated as a per cent like 25%. In this case the cost of the call will be calculated using the billing increment and an additional fee equal to 25% of that amount will be added to this cost in order to determine the total cost. Not all phone cards have surcharges or taxes so these should be taken into account when comparing per minute rates between phone cards.

Many phone cards today are not cards at all, they are simply virtual accounts where customers prepay amounts in order to make long distance domestic or international phone calls. In many ways these virtually phone cards are more convenient and safer than the old paper or plastic cards. A printed phone card can be lost and needs to be purchased at a store or be delivered when funds are added. A virtual account can be accessed from any INTERNET connection and funds can be added at any time. It is also easier to shop and compare phone card rates on-line than at the corner store. There are a variety of websites that sell virtual phone cards and fully disclose all hidden fees and taxes. There are also prepaid calling plans, like the Flex Plan offered by Tel3Advantage, that offer phone card convenience without any hidden fees or taxes.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Calling Europe from the USA and Canada

Making low cost international calls to Europe from the USA and Canada has never been cheaper or easier. Forget traditional international long distance phone service, there are a variety of low cost options on the market today that are just as convenient to use and offer significant savings. We discuss some of these options below.

One of the best ways to call Europe from the USA or Canada is to use Tel3Advantage. It is the most popular prepaid long distance service in North America for several good reasons. For one, it can be used from any phone without changing companies so it is easy to use and good for short or long term use. Tel3 also uses top quality service providers so it features the highest call quality. It also has a wide network of local access numbers so there is no need to pay extra charges for dialing a toll free access number. Tel3Advantage also features PIN free dialing, on-line call history, speed dial and the ability to add up to 10 phones to one prepaid account. It is one of the most popular services for making low cost international calls from cell phones. Rates on calls to Europe range from 2 to 3 cents per minute depending on the country called. This may seem a little higher than phone cards but it isn’t since Tel3 does not charge any extra fees or taxes like most phone cards. Also, there is no contract, monthly fees or obligation. A prepaid account can be started by depositing as little as $10. Tel3 will provide a $5 bonus for accounts started with $25. Visit the Tel3Advantage website for more details or call 800 441 0321.

Phone cards are another option for making low cost calls to Europe. International phone cards can be used from more than 130 countries so they offer flexibility, especially for international travelers. Some phone cards advertise rates of less than 1 cent per minute on calls to Europe from the USA or Canada. Be careful with phone cards advertising extremely low rates since they are often poor quality and/or they have hidden fees which may double or triple the actual amount paid. Be sure to check the details of a phone card when making a purchase in order to estimate the fees that will be added to each call. Also, check for local access numbers before making a purchase. Most phone cards will charge 1 or 2 cents per minute for using a toll free access number. We have found that Phone Cards Europe International offers several good phone cards for making calls to or from Europe.

There are several VoIP service providers that offer unlimited calling plans to Europe from the USA or Canada. These can be a good deal for people who plan to call Europe frequently and also have a high speed INTERNET connection. These plans typically include local service and unlimited calling to the USA, Canada and Europe for one low monthly fee. The Lingo VoIP plan includes unlimited calling to Europe (the USA and 22 countries) and it cost a mere $21.95 per month. They are currently offering 3 months of Free Service to new customers. Lingo service is highly rated and they offer a 30 day money back guarantee and a free modem to use with their service.

For more information on making low cost calls to Europe and other destinations visit Guide to Low Cost International Calls which features a variety of products and services.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

International Calling from Canada

There are a variety of products on the market today for making low cost international calls from Canada to the USA and other international locations. The most commonly used products are prepaid long distance, phone cards and VoIP phone service. The following are some suggested products for making cheap international calls from Canada that offer good value and high quality.

One of the best prepaid phone services in North America is Tel3Advantage. They have been in business in the USA for more than 10 years and have more than 100,000 customers. Their Flex Plan is a prepaid calling plan that can be used from any kind of phone without changing phone companies. It features the highest call quality and the rates to most international locations are similar to phone cards. Unlike most phone cards, all fees and taxes are included in their advertised rates so there are no extra (hidden charges). Many people use Tel3 on a long term basis because they offer good rates to almost any location and they provide reliable service. It is also a great product to use for making low cost international calls from cell phones. Tel3Advantage recently started offering service in Canada. International rates start at 1.9 cents per minute and calls to most countries are less than 5 cents per minute. Tel3 does not require a contract or other long term obligation so it is also a great service to consider for short term use. An account can be activated by prepaying as little as $10. More information can be found on the Tel3Advantage website or by calling 800 441 0321. It is fast and easy to open an account. Payment can be made via a major credit card or through PayPal.

Those interested in prepaid phone cards should consider the Royal Call phone card. It is a phone card that has be especially designed for use from Canada. It features high quality connections, relatively low rates and almost no hidden charges. Unlike many low cost phone cards, the call interval is rounded in 1 minute intervals so the length of a call is rounded to the next minute for billing purposes. Royal call, like most phone cards, has good rates to certain international locations but it is best to shop around to find the best phone card for specific countries or regions of the world. We suggest visiting a website like smartglobalcall prepaid phone cards when shopping for phone cards because they feature a wide selection of premium cards and also provide ratings based on customer feedback and fully disclose all fees associated with the phone cards they sell.

A VoIP phone is another option for those who have a high speed INTERNET connection. There are a wide selection of VoIP Service providers who provide service in North America but many to not offer service in Canada. We think that Axvoice offers one of the best deals on VoIP service for use in Canada. They feature all the typical features and unlimited long distance calling in the USA and Canada for $18.99 per month. They are currently offering one month of free service to new customers and free activation. They also have two international calling plans that include unlimited calling to multiple countries for a slightly higher monthly rate. Our research indicates that their international rates to most locations are low so the base plan is likely the best option for those who only make occasional international calls. VoIP phone service is a very low cost option if one considers that it also includes local phone service.

There are many other options for making low cost international calls from Canada but these are the best we have found.