Step 1 – Know your market rate: If you are using calling cards, then most probably you are calling one to three international destinations at most. Before going to convenience store to buy a prepaid phone card, check the average market rate for that destination. The easiest way to do it is to Google for “calling rates to [your destination country name]”. Visit 3-5 well known online phone card provider websites and note the calling rates they offer to the destination of your interest. Calculate the average calling rate and make a note of it.
Step 2 – Calculate the actual rate: Go to the convenience store and ask the cashier for the calling card that offers the best rate to your destination country. Make the note of the value of the card and minutes it offers to the destination. Divide the value of the calling card to the number of minutes it offers to receive the per minute calling rate to your destination. For example, if a $5 prepaid calling card offers 250 minutes, then $5 value / 250 minutes = $0.02 per minute calling rate.
Step 3 – Compare it to the market rate. Compare the per minute calling rate you just received to the average rate you calculated from online calling card providers before visiting the convenience store. If these rates are close to each other that means that there is a good chance that this is a good calling card. If two rates differ greatly, this means the prepaid calling card might have hidden or administrative fees or other tricks that give you less minutes and eat your balance. Avoid purchasing such prepaid cards and ask the cashier for other alternatives and do the same procedure.
Tip 1: Avoid purchasing cards with values less than $5 (such as $2.50or $1.00 cards). They are usually the worst value cards, because even if your experience was negative you won’t complain about a couple of bucks.
Tip 2: Always ask if the phone card has any hidden and administrative fees. Existence of these means your actual calling rate will most probably will be higher than noted.
Tip 3: Find a reliable online long-distance provider in your area that provides free calling credit, fair calling rates and live calling history, and convenient dialing from any phone at the same time. Try a couple of them and choose a provider that offers you the best rates and service quality to the destinations of your choice.