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How to Choose Phone Cards - And Avoid Costly Mistakes

Updated on January 4, 2009

In 2007 the phone card industry raked in $4 Billion dollars. That's a lot of money. The figure is expected to rise up to $6 Billion in 2008 and these figures are just in America alone. No one would guess that the phone card industry is this expansive. Yet it does make sense after all since more people are traveling across the globe for work, education, volunteering and of course for vacation.

Yes, there are alternative communication methods to stay in touch such as Skype or any other similar based VOIP systems. But more often enough, holding a phone is the most convenient and popular way to stay in touch. After all not everyone is always sitting in front of a computer. Also since mobile phones became more affordable and abundant more and more people are carrying one.

Searching for and buying phone cards on the Internet for first timers and even some seasoned shoppers may find it to be bit of a daunting task. Especially since almost everyone has heard of phone cards that don't deliver the advertised minutes and loads of junk fees. Nobody wants to be victimized even if they are going to lose out on $5 dollar phone card.

But just to play devil's advocate some complaints made are due to the own faults of consumers. It's there fault because they purchase phone cards without fully reading the card's details. However, I can't entirely blame them for making such mistakes because there is really nowhere that teaches people how to choose the right phone card providers and phone cards. Until now of course.

The 2 Most Important Lessons You Will Learn Here About Buying Phone Cards:

  1. Which phone card companies are trustworthy and reputable
  2. How to choose the right phone card for your purpose

The first lesson is easy. The second may get a little getting use to. Let's move on!

How to Reduce the Risk of Buying Junk Phone Cards

Most junk phone cards are found inside small convenience stores and independent gas stations located in neighborhoods that are heavily populated with immigrants.

Unfortunately they are the ones who take the brunt of junk cards because unscrupulous business men know that immigrants (illegal and legal) rely on phone cards to call back to their home country. Most of these junk cards do not deliver the advertised minutes, have poor call quality, busy access numbers and may not even work overall.

And since these cards can only be payed for in cash, their money is as good as gone as most store owners do not stand by the phone cards they sell since the store owners already payed for the card already.

How Do You Reduce Your Risk of Buying Junk Phone Cards?


Buy from reputable phone card companies on the Internet. You can find a list here at Phone Cards Reviews. Phone cards sold on the Internet are not the same as the plastic or paper ones you buy in a store where you have to scratch off numbers to reveal a set of PIN numbers.

Phone cards on the Internet are what I like to refer to as "Electronic Phone Cards". Electronic meaning you will instantly receive the PIN and telephone access number emailed to you. There are several advantages for using these types of phone cards such as lower rates and convenience. Lower rates because you do not have to cover part of the cost of producing a plastic phone card. Convenient because you can buy a phone card sitting in front of your computer in your underwear.

The biggest advantage is you can only pay for Internet phone cards with credit cards or PayPal payments. How is it that an advantage? These two payment methods offer consumers a layer of protection. This will significantly decrease your chances of getting a phone card with empty minutes since most credit cards and especially PayPal help their customers dispute charges or have some type of fraud protection.

Now the key here is to buy phone cards from reputable phone card companies. How do you know if an Internet phone card company is reliable or not? Do a google search. If you see a particular company popping up all over in the search results then it's a good chance they are reliable.

Speedy Pin Website
Speedy Pin Website
Nobelcom Website
Nobelcom Website
Cloncom Website
Cloncom Website

Where to Find the Best Phone Card Companies

Okay, just because a phone card company has been talked about a lot doesn't mean that they offer the best rates. Yes, they may be a reliable and trustworthy company, but they may charge higher rates and only carry cards with overloaded fees.

But don't worry, I've already done the work of searching for the best companies for you. Here are my 3 favorite phone card companies:

  1. Speedy Pin (10 years in business on Internet)
  2. Nobelcom (10 years in business on Internet)
  3. Cloncom (7 years in business on Internet)

Can you see the pattern of similarities? Yup, each company has been in business for quite some time. Internet companies are just like any physical store on the street. If they've been in business for over 5 years then they're doing something right. You can watch a video review of each phone card company below for more information.

Now I am not recommending these companies just because they have have a lot of years under their belts. I have been using these phone card companies for a many years now and I know they have the best rates, reliable phone cards and excellent customer service.

By making the right decision, you can save even more money using phone cards
By making the right decision, you can save even more money using phone cards

How to Choose the Right Phone Cards

Now that you know about 3 very good phone card companies I bet you think you're in the clearing. I wish. If that was true then I can stop writing.

The first lesson was where to find the best phone card companies. This next lesson is how to choose the right phone cards.

All phone card companies sell phone cards with fees and without fees. You would think most people buy phone cards with no fees. Believe it or not it is the exact opposite. Most people buy phone cards with fees because these are the types of card with the lowest call per minute rates.

That's what people are attracted to. We're instinctual tuned to getting the best price. They're so thrilled to see 1¢/minute rate to call Aunt Sally in Australia only to realize at the end they are really paying 4¢/minute when you compound the fees.

I Am Referring to Fees Like:

  • High maintenance fees - Deducted at a weekly or monthly basis, from the first use. Maintenance fees are deducted off of the remaining value of your card whether you use it or not.
  • Carrier surcharges or taxes - Deducted after hanging up. I like to call this the "Disconnect Fee". Kind of silly really. 
  • Connection fees - Deducted at initial call. Just as silly.

Here Is A Tip That You Have Probably Never Heard Before

Only buy phone cards with fees if you are able to finish off the card within a day or two, one week maximum. Phone card with fees are meant for consumers to make a high volume of calls within a short period of time. This strategy will ensure that you are receiving the maximum advantage of the advertised low call per minute rates.

Of all the fees that I can put up with it is the maintenance fee. Some phone cards have excellent low rates with a monthly maintenance fee of about .49¢. So if you're able to finish up the card within the month, which most people should be able to do, then you're not going to be affected by the monthly maintenance fee.

Fee Free phone cards, my own preferred choice
Fee Free phone cards, my own preferred choice

Fee Free Phone Cards Is Your Best Choice

People who've read my articles and reviews about the phone card industry know that I am a strong proponent of only using phone cards with absolutely no fees. Paying extra fees is like paying for an extra fee for leaving a restaurant after you've paid the check. Again phone cards with fees does have its uses, assuming you can finish off 1000 minutes in one sitting.

To be honest in most instances fee free phone cards are only 1¢ to 2¢ higher per minute and sometimes even less. Which are still very good international call rates.

Sadly people still buy phone cards with fees only to realize that it was a bad choice when they find out too late about the fees. This is where most of the phone card complaints arise, when consumers are not aware that their phone card had fees whittling away their card's remaining value. Either consumers are so in rush that they missed the reading the fees or maybe they're just confused and didn't want to deal with it then and there.

Why Don't Phone Card Companies Just Eliminate Phone Card With Fees To Avoid Confusion?

As I mentioned before phone cards with fees are meant for short time use in order to take advantage of the low rates. Another way to explain this is when you go to the Supermarket to shop for laundry detergent you usually find a cheaper inferior detergent right next to the expensive superior detergent. It's up to you the consumer to choose. But since you now know which one is better you can make a better decision.

My Top 3 Phone Card Companies

I have been buying and using phone cards for a long time. In the beginning I mainly used it for calling my business associates and contacts where ever I am required to travel to.

Now I use phone cards to call not only for business but also to call the many friends that I have made through the years of having the privilege of working and visiting their countries.

After using and trying out so many different phone card companies I have finally settled on a handful that I rely upon. I've listed three of them below so you can check them out.

My Top 3 Phone Card Companies:

  1. Speedy Pin
  2. Nobelcom
  3. Cloncom

If you click on those links above it will take you to a review of each company. You can also watch me log into my accounts for each respective phone card company. I did that to show folks that I do buy and use phone cards from the companies I review.

You can also feel free to search around for other phone card companies yourself. Just use the same tips as shown in "How to Choose the Right Phone Cards".

It is true that buying phone cards will save you a lot of money on making international phone calls. But finding the right phone card will make the difference between saving a little, and saving a lot.

Congratulations! Now you know how to choose the right phone cards.
Congratulations! Now you know how to choose the right phone cards.

Important Tips To Remember

This is just a short recap of what you need to know about buying phone cards. I've also added some additional information that you should know as well.

  • Only buy phone cards with fees if you know you will be making a high volume of calls in short time.
  • Buy phone cards with no fees if you are spreading your calls throughout several months up to a year.
  • If you will be making your phone cards with your cell phone make sure you call your provider to disable international call feature. This will reduce the chance of you dialing an international call straight out. Don't worry your phone card will have local access numbers to make your international call.
  • Remember that there are separate phone card rates for dialing to a land line and mobile line. Dialing to a mobile line is more expensive in most cases.
  • Read the phone card's full details. If you see that the details are really long like a short story, it's a good sign to steer clear. Phone card details should be short and to the point.
  • Make sure you keep the phone card's toll free customer support number handy.

That's it. You've graduated. See it wasn't that bad after all. Buying phone cards is just like a buying anything else. Just use a little bit of common sense, consumer education and patience and you'll be a savvy phone card shopper in no time.

Have some phone card tips? Care to share it?

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