Phone Cards: Calling Tips for Calling Card Buyers and Users
Here are two great phone calling card tips that you would do well to pay attention to next time you go to buy a calling card.
Tip #1 Retail phone cards vs. virtual calling cards online
I live in Washington where there is a general sales tax of almost 9%. Many people that live on the border of Washington and Oregon know that by doing their shopping in Oregon (a state without a sales tax), they can save almost $9 on a $100 calling card. The point of this story is that you should not only compare the cheapest rates on the card, but also the cheapest place to buy the card. If you want to avoid sales tax. Buy your phone cards online from a virtual calling card provider like Pingo.com that offers great international rates. This will allow you to beat out those retail cards on the sales tax alone, not to mention the lower calling rates you often get from going through an online retailer vs. a "real-world" retailer (who makes a lot of their money in the markups they apply to the per-minute rounding rates on the card).
Tip #2 Walgreens and Wal-Mart International phone cards
About two years ago my mom purchased a Walgreen's calling card. But it could have been from any monster retail giant. Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, King Soopers, and even Home Depot all now have calling cards that they market. The Walgreens card was branded "International," and was sold at a slight markup from the normal card used for making "long distance" calls within the U.S. Her intention was that I would be able to call her from London, where I was traveling for a job interview. She slipped the card with a note to "call home" into my suitcase on the morning of my flight, so I didn't find it until I arrived at Heathrow. When I finally pulled out the card to try to call her, there was no number to call besides the US 1-800-number.
The Walgreens definition of "international," means that you could call from the US to Canada and Mexico. What's funny (NOT funny ha-ha, but funny what-a-rip-off) is that this is a feature which you can get by buying one of their normal calling cards. My mom had been misled, assuming that "international" meant I could call from anywhere. The tip here is that if you are buying a card at a retail outlet, read the back of your card carefully before purchase, and make sure you understand exactly what you are paying for. Then you won't end up paying extra simply for a logo with some pretty flags on it. Or better yet, stop trying to read all the small print on a Walgreens International phone card, or any other "International" phone card from a retail store.
By using Skype, or by buying a calling card online, (we currently recommend Pingo.com), you can get a clear understanding of what you're paying for and get clean and affordable international rates to most countries in the world.
Side note: At Pingo.com, you can receive $5 in free calls, and get 15% discount. All you have to do is use the Pingo coupon code "s4i"