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Calling Card Companies Creating Cruddy Cards (and What You Should Do About It)

When it comes to calling cards, there are basically two types of calling cards, but they work on the same principle. There are physical cards (like you may see at the front of a grocery store in the "impulse buys" section, and there are "virtual" cards, which you buy online, and the dial-in number, as well as the PIN Code, are sent to your email inbox.

So which is better? Well, the type of card (Physical vs. virtual) doesn't really matter. I prefer the purchase online and get it sent to my inbox method because it's easier for me.

However, what you want to watch out for is the fine print (Isn't that always the case?) So, for example, if you look at the average calling card retailer's web site there will be a variety of calling cards which come up for any search you do. Let's take a hypothetical search for rates from the Continental US to Australia.

At first glance, one of the cards to Australia will appear to be the best deal, because it offers the lowest per minute rate. However, if you look into the fine print of these individual cards, what you often discover is that the card which appears to have the best rate to Australia is actually rounding every phone call by four minute increments. This is great if you only talk for 3 minutes and 59 seconds. But, as soon as you talk for 4 minutes and 1 second, this card will count your call as having been 8 minutes.

And when all your time is suddenly used up, and you wonder how the time on the phone could have gone by so quickly (because you thought you got such a great rate to Australia), you suddenly will realize that the 4 minute rounding rate may not have been your best option.

For this reason, I generally recommend that people should read the fine print before making any calling card purchase. Make sure your calling cards are rounding calls to 1 minute increments, or, better yet, 1 second increments. I've seen cards that will round up to 8 minute increments! If the card you are thinking of using doesn't say what rounding method it uses, I wouldn't recommend it at all.

Whether you are purchasing a physical card or a "virtual" card, read the fine print, and find out what rounding method they use, before finalizing your calling card purchase.

Also, one other quick tip: Generally, when calling Europe (or most other places in the world), calling a cell phone is going to be significantly more expensive than calling a land line phone. There are lots of reasons for this, which I won't go into now, but be aware of it. Make sure that if the person you are calling is using a cell phone that you are looking for the cheapest rates for calling cell phones in the country you are calling.

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