Are you planning a trip abroad and want an affordable way to call back home and stay in touch?
International phone cards are prepaid calling cards that allow travelers to make calls internationally at very low rates, avoiding the excessive roaming fees from regular mobile phone plans.
With an international calling card, you can call home for just pennies per minute in most cases.
In this article, we’ll explore the many benefits of using prepaid international phone cards while traveling overseas and give tips for choosing the best card for your needs.
Benefits of International Phone Cards
International SIM cards and calling cards offer some great advantages for globetrotters looking to stay affordably connected when traveling:
Avoid High Roaming Charges
One of the biggest perks of an international phone card is the ability to sidestep the exorbitant roaming fees that your regular mobile carrier will charge you for making calls, sending texts, and using data while outside your home country.
“These roaming rates are usually several dollars per minute, which can add up if you make frequent calls back home during your trip. With an international calling card, you can call home for just a fraction of that price.” Philip Lim, singaporephonecards.com
Prepaid Structure Allows Budgeting
Since international phone cards are prepaid, it makes it very easy to budget your spending on calls. You can purchase a card with a set amount of minutes for a fixed price upfront, then make calls until you’ve used up the prepaid minutes.
This pay-as-you-go structure gives you control over how much you spend, unlike postpaid plans that hit you with giant bills later on.
You’ll never get an unexpectedly high phone bill after returning from a trip if you rely solely on prepaid international calling cards when away.
Good Call Quality
Many international phone cards utilize Voice over IP (VoIP) technology to route calls over the Internet, rather than traditional telephone lines. This allows them to provide excellent call quality and reliability at a low cost.
Some cards advertise “crystal clear digital sound quality” or “HD calling features”. Just be sure to check reviews to confirm that the call quality for a specific provider lives up to these claims before purchasing.
As long as you have a decent internet connection, VoIP calls can match or exceed standard call quality.
Wide Availability Worldwide
You can easily purchase an international calling card after arriving at your destination, which is very convenient.
They are sold at airport shops, newsstands, grocery stores, convenience shops, and many other retailers in most countries.
It’s easy to find places to purchase or recharge a prepaid international phone card abroad, so you don’t have to worry about running out of minutes during your trip.
Use With Any Unlocked Phone
International calling cards allow you to make calls from any unlocked mobile phone, instead of having to rent a special phone that works with that card.
As long as you have access to an unlocked phone that can make international calls, you can use your SIM card or calling card PIN to make calls at discounted rates. You don’t have to fuss with renting extra equipment.
Good for Occasional Travelers
Prepaid international calling cards tend to work best for travelers who are only making occasional trips abroad or who won’t use up all their minutes before the card expires.
For frequent or business travelers who make calls every day, an international SIM card or roaming plan may be a better choice financially. But for leisure travelers calling home every few days, prepaid cards are very cost-effective.
Choosing the Best Card for Your Needs
If you’ve decided to use an international calling card for your upcoming trip abroad, here are some key factors to consider when choosing a provider:
The first thing to check is which countries the card offers its lowest rates to. If you’ll primarily be calling the U.S., look for cards with cheap rates to North America. If you need to call multiple countries worldwide, some cards advertise flat rates to landlines in 70+ countries. Compare destination rates between card providers.
Per Minute Rates and Connection Fees
You’ll want to find the lowest per-minute rates possible for the countries you need to call. Note that some cards have higher prices for calls to mobile phones versus landlines. Also look out for connection fees, which can add to the cost of short calls. Some cards advertise “no connection fees” to certain destinations. Read the fine print so you know exactly what each call will cost.
Check how soon the card will expire after the first call, and what the policy is for recouping unused minutes. Some cards expire within 3 months after activation, while others may last up to a year from first use. Some providers allow you to “recharge” a card to add more minutes, while others forfeit any unused minutes when the card expires.
If you think you’ll need more minutes during your trip, look for cards that allow online recharging or topping up while abroad. With some providers, you can recharge a card online before you depart for a set amount of extra minutes. Or if you run low during your trip, look for cards that can be recharged in person at retailers in your destination country.