The demand for international calls is constantly on the rise, as the world becomes a more global environment and people travel all the time for a variety of purposes: business, pleasure, employment or education.
Regardless of the reason for going overseas, the typical traveler needs to keep in touch with his family, friends or business contacts in his home country and the necessary long-distance communication solutions usually come with a hefty price-tag.
Landline calls that are processed by the big phone companies via international gateway exchanges (switches) can be extremely expensive.
Additionally, international travelers who try to use their personal or workplace mobile phone abroad, usually find themselves paying outrageous roaming rates to their carrier as well as substantial charges for calls, text messages and data consumption.
More and more consumers are looking for effective ways to bypass the traditional telecommunications industry’s infrastructure in an effort to bring the cost down.
As a result, the use of calling cards and smartphone apps is gaining popularity and becomes a practical cost-effective alternative.
How Do International Calling Cards Work?
Prepaid calling cards (aka phone cards) are a very popular way for consumers to stay in touch with family and friends as they travel abroad.
The reasons? It’s a convenient, easy to use and affordable solution.
This option frequently offers far lower rates compared to long distance providers, local phone companies, collect or operator assisted calls and it can often be used from a variety of devices or locations: landlines, cell phones and even from many payphones, hotels, train stations and airports.
Phone cards enable the customer to purchase per-minute long-distance time in prepaid blocks, according to his independent needs.
Using the card is simple even for non-techies: the customer needs to dial a local access number – which can be either a local or a toll-free phone number, enter the PIN (personal identification number – for user protection and security) and then simply dial the destination number following the standard international format.
Many calling cards are rechargeable, meaning they allow customers to add more minute credit to the card, as soon as they need it.
Additionally, they eliminate the need to contact the user’s regular phone company and activate special long-distance plans before travelling.
A typical calling card can be either in the form of a physical wallet-friendly plastic card or if bought online, in the form of a PIN number which is sent digitally to the customer by email after the order has been placed and processed.
How Do International Calling Apps Work?
Calling apps can be downloaded to the user’s Android or IOS device.
Compared to a standard wireless contract, they offer much cheaper rates and enable the customer to stay in touch with his relatives or the office back home without having to incur unpleasant phone bill fee surprises.
Instead of using the regular telecommunication infrastructure to connect, many mobile apps rely on the internet.
That’s why most calling apps in the market (but not all) will require either Wi-Fi or mobile data Internet connection, in order to get VOIP based calls through.
Free WiFi hotspots are usually available in public places like airports, hotels, parks, train stations, popular tourist attractions, restaurants and coffee shops.
Some smartphone apps do not require Wi-Fi, since they work differently and use actual local phone lines instead.
Other than making standard voice calls, calling apps offer other advanced features like, video calls, text messaging, image sharing and others.
Target Audience: Who Uses Such Services?
International call providers serve a diverse customer-base which includes:
Tourists, people on a vacation abroad and business travelers who are planning international travel trips and wish to keep in touch with their family at home or with their office while overseas.
Troops, military personnel, servicemen and members of the armed forces are understandably among the most frequent users of global prepaid calling cards.
Foreign-born students who attend colleges, universities and higher education organizations abroad and need a convenient low cost way to talk to their relatives.
Most work migrants and people who travel overseas for employment find it the most cost effective way to communicate with their loved ones.
People who have immigrated to a new country and wish to communicate with their family relatives in their country of origin.
Expats are individuals who have left the country they were born in and are now living in a different one. Obviously, they have a lot of people to keep in touch with back home.
Paying for Prepaid Calling Services with PayPal
Many popular international calling service providers in the market accept a variety of payment methods, including PayPal.
Before Choosing: Features to Consider
In order to make sure that you receive optimal benefit from using this type of service, it is crucial to conduct proper research and verify that certain features that you need are actually being offered by the providers that you consider.
Doing so will help you decide which company is the best fit for your individual needs.
Such features may include:
- Payment via PayPal
- PINless dialing
- Speed dialing
- Toll-free access numbers
- No connection fees
- New user signup bonus
- iPhone (ios) / Android support
- Self-service online account management
- Corporate accounts