The Telephone Zone



How Phonecards Work – Pay as You Go

Have you heard about the latest industry boom? An industry that’s expected to reach $10 billion in sales by 2010. It’s experiencing phenomenal growth! This industry is the prepaid phonecard industry. Here, we’d like to explain to you how phonecards work, so you can join in the excitement.

The history of phonecards is interesting, too. Check that out, if you like. And if there are terms here you don’t understand, refer to our glossary of phonecard terms and definitions for a simple explanation. Now let’s look at exactly how phonecards work.

What are prepaid phonecards for?

Prepaid phonecards were originally invented because of a coin shortage in Italy in 1975. It was a viable alternative. Little did the Italians know how their idea would grow. The general purpose of phonecards hasn’t changed since then – they’re meant to provide convenience. And that’s what they do to this day.

Phonecards are being used today as an inexpensive alternative to landline telephone services. Long distance has been a very competitive market for the past decade. One of the biggest advantages of using prepaid phonecards is the per-minute rates – they’re a lot lower than anything you can get using your home or business phone lines. And if you tend to make a lot of long distance calls and subsequently run up your phone bill, with phonecards, you can limit yourself to a specified number of cards per month, or whatever works best for you. You can also top up your “minute bank” by phone, or on the Internet – again, convenience.

Some companies supply phonecards to their employees as a benefit. Or they can use them when they’re on the road. Again, spending can be tracked more easily. The company can even get a record of their calls online. All these benefits are geared towards the original purpose of phonecards – convenience. And that’s convenience for you and your family, or your business, or both.

When you use your phonecard, you could be either at home, at your office, in your hotel room, or at a pay phone. Convenience again. And the phonecard suppliers have added as much convenience as they can. You can buy an international prepaid phonecard on the Internet, where you get instant activation. With this system, there’s no plastic – all you need is your access number.

How do you use your prepaid phonecard?

There are a few simple steps that you’ll find are fairly standard, no matter which phonecard you buy. They are:

  1. Buy your card, either at a store, or online.
  2. Get your 800 number and PIN, either with the card, or by email.
  3. Dial the 800 access number.
  4. Listen for the voice instructions.
  5. Enter your PIN.
  6. You’ll be told your current balance on the card.
  7. Enter the number you want to call.

Pretty simple, huh? Now remember, every time you use your card, you’re paying a significantly lower long distance rate than you’d get anywhere else. You can use your card for national, international or cellphone calls. You can talk to your family and friends anywhere in the world. Different cards allow you to call different countries.

What do the phonecard companies do for you?

It’s the responsibility of the phonecard companies to provide you with reliable, good quality connections. They also need to keep you up-to-date regarding your charges for each card you use. Beware of hidden charges and small print that brings surprises later.

Find out if you’re being charged a connection fee. This fee is charged by the local phone company every time you use your phonecard. You only get this charge if the call connects – there’s no connection fee is the call doesn’t connect, the other party doesn’t pick up or you get a busy signal. The amount of this fee varies with each phonecard. You’re better off buying a phonecard without a connection fee if you’re making frequent short calls. Otherwise, if your calls are longer, you should get a phonecard that does have a connection fee. Keep in mind that cards without connection fees usually have a higher per-minute rate.

Prepaid phonecard companies have now provided the added convenience of being able to use your cellphone. However, not all cards have that ability. Also, different rates are charged if you use your cell phone.

Collectors buy into phonecards

Collectors are always looking for new things to collect. Because there are so many phonecards out there, and because they’re so unique and colorful, collectors have snatched them up to enhance their hobbies. There’s “The Collectors’ Book of Telephone Cards”, published in England, with 108 pages of phonecards from 61 countries. So if you’re a collector, you need to get in on the act.

Prepaid phonecards – convenience

So now you know how phonecards work. And now you know how to cut down on your long distance phone bills. Pay-as-you-go saves the heartache of surprising bills. Prepaid phonecards are everywhere. It’s not surprising that there were $3 billion worth sold in 2000. And more and more people every day are finding out that they can take advantage of that convenience, too. Why don’t you become one of those people – and make that call.

About The Author

Gareth Marples is a successful freelance writer providing valuable tips and advice for consumers purchasing free voice messaging, gas motorized scooter and mosquitos. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips, eye opening information and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.

This article on "How Phonecards Work" reprinted with permission.

© 2004 - Net Guides Publishing, Inc.

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