International Calling Card

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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If you regularly tune into any mainstream media from print and radio to TV and the Web, you've undoubtedly seen hundreds of ads for international calling cards. And, like most people, you probably figure these long-distance packages are all the same--and for the most part, you're right. There may be subtle differences from product to product, but the principle remains the same: lure in callers with promises of low rates, then sneak in taxes, fees, and surcharges to recoup costs.

Not all carriers are this devious, though. Some really do offer legitimately lower rates. This may be due to any facet of lower overhead from smaller offices and less inventory to better wireless networks. When these companies can free up some operating capital, they know it's worth it to pass those savings onto their customers.

You've Got Global Friends

These days it's not uncommon for people's rolodexes and online databases to read like a U.N. or NATO directory. When you consider the new global economy, it makes sense that contacts are no longer spread across states but whole continents. This is a byproduct of the internet boom, which has wired the world together, even if it's done so through wireless methods.

Another product of the "global" village is the gradual blurring of work and play. In the old days, business was business and pleasure was pleasure, and never the twain did meet. Nowadays, however, business colleagues more readily become friends, which is why so many people's little black books are now populated with foreign names.

Internet Phone Calls vs. Old-Fashioned Phone Calls

There's a degree of irony in the rise of international calling cards, given that the Internet is the medium most responsible for pulling the continents together. But when you think about it, this actually makes sense for several reasons. One is that cheap (free, in most cases) internet correspondence has exerted competitive pressure on standard telephony, thereby forcing phone companies to lower their rates. As a result, there are more international calling cards on the market than ever before.

Secondly, all this web communication, while cheap, is also impersonal. No matter how many "expressions" you type in an e-mail message, the nuances of the human voice are often lost. As a result, people often long for a "real" voice--a spoken voice--even if your correspondent is Shakespeare or Cyrano. There's just a natural warmth and empathy intoned by spoken words that's missing from even the most mellifluous prose.

Stay Hooked Up with Your International Calling Card

With an international calling card it's easy to stay in touch with your worldwide entourage. There are lots of companies that set up accounts for you, then let you make cheap international phone calls to your heart's content. But some companies do this better than others, and there are definite differences in the products available. You will, for instance, want a plan that lets you hop from call to call with ease, which means not having to dial a PIN number or access code with each fresh call.

In the pages that follow, you'll learn all about the existing plans for international calling cards. With this information you'll be better able to make a smart choice about the company and the product that's best for you. Smart providers understand that there are major differences in the way a mother or father with children living abroad and an international business tycoon use their phone cards. That is why they design different international calling cards and plans to begin with.

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