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Phonecards to call home

Travel Forums General Talk Phonecards to call home

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1. Posted by Tina Bean (Budding Member 48 posts) 10y


Can anyone give me any advice on what to do about getting a phonecard to call home? I have looked into this quite a bit and not getting very far. BT's chargecard looks really expensive and all the internet cards look a bit dodge. Is it easier just to buy one in each country you go to, are they cheaper? Or is it better to get a rechargeable one and set it up before you go?

Hoping someone can help!


2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4896 posts) 10y

Quoting Tina Bean

Is it easier just to buy one in each country you go to, are they cheaper?

Yes. Just walk into any small convenience store anywhere in the world (or internet cafe - those usually sell phone cards as well) and ask for the card with the best free-call rates to [wherever you want to call]. The quality of the line can be a bit dodgy at times, depending on operator, and the cards usually only remain valid for three months, but when you're travelling they're pretty much ideal, and even with extra charges and money left on the card in each country which you don't use, they still beat the national telco monopolies hands down for price.

3. Posted by jen23 (Full Member 73 posts) 10y

Are these phone/sim cards cheap - what sort of price would you be looking at paying for each sim card? (calling to / from the UK)

I've been looking at different websites like or to see if it is cheaper buying one sim for all countries, but i just don't know!


4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4896 posts) 10y

What I'm talking about - and what I assume Tina also meant - are phone cards to be used with pay phones for cheap overseas calls - usually available from whatever the nearest round number equivalent to $5 or $10 is.

Sim cards for your own mobile phone for a network specific to a country might be worth getting if you stay there for a long time and intend to make a lot of phone calls within the country; no idea what the prices for those are though.

I took a look at that oneroam site, and for example a call to the uk from new zealand costs £0.37 per minute. That's $1.09 (NZD) per minute, which I'd call truly and astoundingly expensive.
One of the local New Zealand phonecards that I can remember using (Kia Ora, which I think was one of the most expensive ones around) would be $0.07 per minute from a regular landline phone, calling in via a tollfree number on a payphone would be $0.57, and if you absolutely have to use it with a cell phone, it'd still be significantly cheaper at $0.82 per minute.

5. Posted by Tina Bean (Budding Member 48 posts) 10y

Sander, this is very helpful thank you! To add more complications to my telecommunications plan of taking my mob as a pay as you go for emergencies has been put on hold since i dropped my phone in a glass of water!

Looks like picking up cards from a local store or internet cafes is the best option. Can you just clarify a couple of points for me though...

1)what do you mean about extra charges. Is that connection fees?
2) Would it just be a case of having to connect to a call centre or would you be given a code to punch in to make a connection?

Thanks again for your help, much appreciated!

T x

6. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4896 posts) 10y

Quoting Tina Bean

1)what do you mean about extra charges. Is that connection fees?

Amongst other things, yes. There's some dodgy cards out there which also charge you for _not_ using the card and have various other schemes of making the money on the card run out more swiftly. I must say I've never encountered this on any card which was recommended by whatever store I got the card - only when I myself looked at the advertisements and specifically said "I want that card". It's not a big deal - as I said, they're still much cheaper - but it can be annoying when you were relying on there still being enough money on the card for a single call, and then it's suddenly gone.

2) Would it just be a case of having to connect to a call centre or would you be given a code to punch in to make a connection?

The second. You call a local number (or 0800 number if using a pay phone), they (sometimes) ask you to choose a language ("press 1 for english", etc), then to punch in the 12-digit number on the card (or 10-digit, or 16-digit; this varies), very occasionally to put in a four-digit self-chosen pin for extra security, they tell you your account balance, and then ask to dial the number you really want to call. (Look carefully on the card for how to dial international numbers; sometimes you have to put 00 in front of the country code, sometimes 011, and sometimes nothing.) Just before the call really starts, you hear for how long you can call before the balance runs out.

[ Edit: Edited at Aug 27, 2006 3:26 PM by Sander ]

7. Posted by jen23 (Full Member 73 posts) 10y

ok, thanks for clearing that up!!! it might be more beneficial to buy a phone card that you both are describing.

8. Posted by TylerJames (Respected Member 333 posts) 10y

i use ekit phone cards you can call an free number anywhere in the world and get cheap rates. you can also charge the card by credit card ect.

9. Posted by cruisegirl (Respected Member 244 posts) 10y

After working on ships for 3 years, and a few errors (calling from my mobile, calling collect, charging to my credit card) I found that the calling cards from convenience stores/internet cafes are the BEST!!! Some of them can be tricky (connection fees, charging if you don't get thru, etc), but for the cost of them, you kinda just suck it up and try a different one the next time! I have found cards that for $5 I can talk for 4 hours to Canada! I can't even get calls that cheap locally here!

From every corner of the world that I have been to, Turkey to Iceland, the Caribbean, Mexico, all the way to Alaska, the little cards can't be beat!

10. Posted by Kayla1 (Budding Member 44 posts) 10y

Slight side line to this question.. does anyone know of a phone account that you can set up before leaving where people can leave you messages and you pick up as you go?

Sorry not explaining myself very well. I'm not going to have a mobile, and will be doing the phonecards thing but want for family to be able to contact me say if there was an emergency etc, an account that allows me to check the voicemail?

Confused Kayla