» home » helpful info » prepaid phone cards

Prepaid phone cards consumer info

Prepaid phone or calling cards are a convenient, no strings attached way of placing long distance or local telephone calls. Although the name calling card makes you think of a physical card, these days many providers of such services sell only PIN numbers over the Internet, therefore no need for an actual calling card. The convenience of being able to prepay for small amounts of calling minutes (as low as $3) still remains. Also rates are quite low, making state to state and international calls very affordable.

To use a prepaid phone card:

  1. Dial the access number provided - access numbers can be either local or toll free (rates are usually lower when using a local access number, but in this case you must also pay for the local call when using the card from a payphone)
  2. Dial the PIN number imprinted on the back of the card or provided via email
  3. Dial the number you wish to call
  4. To dial another number without repeating the first 3 steps you can press # or * depending on the card (look for this info on your card)

Many prepaid cards can be recharged over the phone or online. Another convenience offered for people calling from the same telephone number(s) is the PINLESS DIALING option. In other words you can make calls from a registered phone number without entering your PIN.

Bying tips:

  • Look for any additional charges - some calling cards advertise very low rates, but in the "Fine print" you'll find extra charges such as connection fees charged for each call, or monthly/weekly maintenance fees; these charges will increase the cost of your calls
  • Look for expiration dates: many calling cards have an expiration date and if not used before this date your credit will be lost
  • Find out what access numbers are provided: toll free or local? It is best to have both options - calls using a local access number cost less, but in some situations (calling from a payphone) using a toll free number is easier
  • Choose a known brand name to be protected against low quality service. There are many come and go companies in this industry, and many customers have complained about low quality connections or hidden charges