Monday, August 31, 2009

Call History: An Uncommon Phone Card Feature

Many people overlook added features, like call history, when shopping for phone cards. They are simply too interested in things like cost per-minute for making calls to their desired destination and call quality to pay attention to seemingly unimportant added features like PIN Free Dialing, Speed Dial or Call History. Most of these added features may not seem very valuable but they can make using a phone card much more convenient. For example, international callers who have used phone cards with a PIN Free Dialing feature find it very difficult to use a card where it is necessary to enter a PIN code each time a call is placed.

Virtual phone cards purchased on-line tend to have many more added features than those purchased from off-line vendors. Even high priced phone cards like those offered by AT&T or MCI do not come with any added features. They typically have high call quality and include toll free access numbers but callers still need to enter a PIN code each time they make a call. Companies like Tel3 offer a high quality virtual phone card that comes with a full range of features. Their Tel3Advantage prepaid calling plan can be used like a phone card but it comes with an online account where customers can do things like view their account balance, review their call history, set speed dial numbers (up to 99) and set-up phones they want to use to make calls without dialing a PIN code. Tel3Advantage has much lower rates than the high cost companies with similar call quality but also comes with a full range of added features at no additional cost.

Several virtual phone cards offer a Call History feature. These cards come with a virtual account that can access via the INTERNET and users can log into their account and see the history of every call made with their phone card. They can see the duration, location called and charge for each call made with their phone card. Call history is a nice feature since it provides a full accounting of the charges made for each call.

Not all phone cards come with a Call History feature. The following are some that we are aware of: Continental, Golden Lotus, Hello from UK and Simply. These can all be found on the Smart Global Call Phone Cards International website. Be advised, Call History is a phone card feature that is very easy to get use to. Once a phone card with added features is used, it is hard to go back to a plain vanilla phone card.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cheap International Calls to the UK

The UK is one of the most popular calling destinations from the United States. It accounts for more than 40% of the total minutes used each year on calls to Western Europe. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of of options for making international calls to the UK from Canada and the USA and the cost is relatively low, averaging about 3 cents-per-minute in 2006. We discuss a couple of options below that offer good deals to consumers who want to make international calls to the UK.

Our favorite option for international callers located in the United States or Canada is Tel3Advantage. It is an ideal plan for people who make frequent international calls because it offers a variety of features, has high call quality and is relatively cheap. There are also no long term contracts, periodic maintenance fees or other hidden charges. It can also be used to make calls from any kind of telephone (home, business or mobile) without changing service providers. Tel3 is used like a calling card but it provides users with an on-line account where they can view usage (including the cost for each call) in real time. It also has several nice features like an on-line call history, PIN free dialing and speed dial which make it very convenient to use. Tel3 is offering a special promotion now for new customers called the Triple Promo. New customers who sign up under this offer receive a 30% discount on all calls made during the first 30 days and get free bonus minutes when they open an account. This means that calls to the UK from the USA or Canada are 1.4 cents per-minute. This offer is only available through a special triple promo link or by special request over the phone. Those who are interested should visit cheap calls to the UK or call 800 441 0321 and request the triple promo.

Tel3 has been in the prepaid calling business for nearly 20 years and has been offering the Tel3Advantage prepaid calling plan for about 5 years. They are the only company in the industry with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and have more than 100,000 active customers in the North America.

Prepaid phone cards is another option for making cheap international calls to UK from Canada, the USA or any country in the world. One card that we recommend to people who want a high quality phone card is the Continental Phone Card. It can be used to make cheap international phone calls from any country in the world by dialing a local access number or by using one of the handy built-in callback features. The continental phone card has low fees and also comes with an on-line account where users can monitor account activity including the details for each call made on the account. Those interested in the Continental Phone Card should visit Prepaid Phone Cards International for more information.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back to School Phone Card Special

Use this coupon and instantly save 10% on popular international phone cards. This promotion is valid until September 18, 2009. You can use it over-and-over again to purchase well known phone cards like the AT&T calling card or you can choose from a full range of high quality phone cards that can be used to make cheap international phone calls from any country. One very popular phone card being featured this month is the Continental Card. It is a very versatile calling card that can be used to make cheap international phone calls from over 60 countries. It comes complete with features like call on-line call history, PIN free dialing and speed dial at no additional cost. It can also be used as a call back phone card (SMS or Web Call features) to make cheap international phone calls from any phone in the world that can receive an incoming call. The Continental Phone Card Web Call feature is often over looked but it offers a convenient to use method to make very cheap calls from any country, even those that have a high tariff on international phone calls.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Phone Card Purchasing Tips

The phone card market is confusing to most consumers because phone card carriers have been creative in devising hidden fees and other tricks so they can advertise extremely low rates and still make money. In most cases, because of hidden charges, callers end up paying more than they expect when placing calls. We have listed the common hidden fees below and have provided some tips so phone card shoppers can at least make an informed purchase and have a basic understanding of the market.

To avoid many common consumer mistakes, we suggest purchasing phone cards from websites where all of the fees are fully disclosed in an easy to read format and customers rate phone cards. There are websites that provide simple to use tools so users can compare phone cards in a simple to understand format. Websites like display customer ratings for all of the phone cards they sell.

1. Check the rate (usually cents/min) to the destination you want to call. Remember that the rates listed or advertised are normally to house phones (landlines). Calls made to cell phones often have higher rates. Also, the advertised rates typically do not include phone card fees or taxes that can significantly increase the cost of a call.

2. Look for added fees, taxes and hidden costs. These should be listed in an easy to read format but can also be buried in the fine print. Remember you will likely pay more than the advertised rate when using a phone card so the trick is to minimize the added fees. Added fees will be called things like connection fee, disconnection fee, taxes, maintenance fee, pay phone fee and long call fee. These fees will vary between calling cards. Some phone cards will have all or most of these added fees and others will not have any of them.

3. Phone cards will also have different rounding or billing increments. These are often in one, three or 6-minute increments. The billing increment can have a significant impact on the calling cost depending on how the calling card is used. A calling card with a one-minute billing increment will charge a customer 4 minutes for a 3.5 minute call while a calling card with a 3 minute billing increment will charge a customer 6 minutes for the same call. The cost of a call is rounded up to the next billing increment so; in general, a card with a lower billing increment has a lower cost.

4. Phone card fees are typically minimized if calling cards are purchased in smaller denominations and used for one call or over a short period-of-time. In general, phone card fees do not start until it is used the first time. Many companies offer calling cards in denominations of $5, 10, 20, 50 and 100. We recommend trying a small denomination card ($5 to $10) before making a large purchase. In most cases, it is generally better to buy several small denomination cards than to purchase one with a big denomination.

5. The call quality of a phone card depends on the international carrier used and is not always equal between vendors to a given location. There are many international telecom carriers and call quality will vary between carriers. There are generally three levels of call quality (referred to as Tier 1, 2 and 3) with regard to telecom carriers. Tier 1 carriers offer the best quality but they also charge the highest rates. Therefore, in general, calling cards with the lowest advertised rates also tend to have the lowest call quality because they use lower Tier carriers.

6. Check for local access number availability. Many cheap calling cards have low per minute rates but have few local access numbers and charge 1 or 2 cents per minute extra for using a toll free access number.

7. All phone cards carry an FCC imposed fee for using a pay phone in the USA. However, the rate will vary between phone cards (it ranges from around $0.49 to $1) so check this rate if you plan to use a pay phone.

8. Phone cards typically have an expiration date so be sure and use the card before it expires.

9. Purchase phone cards from a vendor that has 24/7 customer service. If nothing else, you may have a question or need some advice.

10. Look for added features. Many phone cards have a full range of useful features that some users may value while others may not. For example, the AT&T phone card has very high call quality (also high rates) but almost no features. Others have features like PIN free dialing, call history, speed dial and automatic recharge, which make the cards easier and more convenient to use.

So, how should a consumer use this information? There are a few things to consider. First, try to compare phone cards on the same basis. When phone card rates are adjusted for hidden fees, taxes and other billing tricks, many calling cards with very cheap advertised rates actually cost as much or more to use than a moderately priced card with higher call quality. Remember, a calling card that cannot be used nor has extremely poor quality is worthless to the user. Any money spent on a purchase is simply lost.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How to Make Cheap Long Distance Calls from Hotels

The next time you are in a hotel and want to make a long distance phone call you might want to try a prepaid phone card rather than placing a direct-dialed long distance call through the phone in your room. Using a phone card is just as convenient and has far cheaper long distance rates than those charged by hotels (including tax and surcharges). It is easy to shop and compare phone card rates on-line from any location in the world. Phone cards can be securely purchased on-line and they can be instantly used to make cheap domestic or international long distance calls. Rather than paying $0.50, $1.00 or more per-minute to make a direct-dialed call from a hotel room, the same call can be made for as little as 1 cents per-minute with a prepaid phone card.

Phone cards are also easy to use. All a caller needs to do is dial and access number (local or toll free depending on the phone card), enter a PIN code and place a call to any phone in the world. Many on-line phone cards include features such as speed dial or PIN free dialing which makes it very easy to place a call to any location. In many cases, they also include an on-line call history so a user can track the details for every call made with their phone card. Phone cards are also very portable, they can used from any kind of telephone (mobile, home, hotel, pay-phone or business phone). They can also be used to make calls from nearly any country in the world.

One popular virtual phone card that can be used to make cheap long distance calls from the USA or Canada is offered by Tel3. The Tel3Advantage flex plan is a very popular prepaid calling plan with more than 100,000 frequent users in North America. It is a high quality product that can be used from any kind of phone without changing service providers and has very low rates to any location in the world. It is a very good option for people who travel in North America and want the ability to make cheap international calls from any location.

It is easy to save money on long distance calls from any kind of telephone with prepaid phone cards.