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Phone cards provide a low cost, flexible way of using phone networks.  When traveling abroad, phone cards are a must if you want to avoid the high surcharges hotels place on  calls.


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Travel Advice/Travel Tips -  When traveling, buy a local phone card

Charges for telephone calls made from hotel rooms are very expensive; although the charges are high in the United States, they are even higher outside of the United States. When possible,  avoid these exorbitant charges. Use public phones, when convenient, as they are economically priced and always available.

Many foreign public telephones have been converted to a “cashless” format and accept only phone cards to pay for calls.

  • If the public telephones do take cash, they will only take local currency, which is often an inconvenience for the traveler.
  • One of the first things you should do while vacationing abroad is to buy a phone card that will allow you to use the public phone on a cashless basis.
  • Many phone cards are country specific and you may need to buy a new card for each country you visit.


Phone cards are usually available at tobacco shops and  stores that fit the American definition of a “quick shop”.

  • The cards are available in various denominations.
  • We recommend buying a card that has the equivalent of ten or twenty dollars worth of calls (use the smaller amount if you will not be calling home).

European phone cards are, usually, a “smart card” containing an embedded chip that keeps track of how much “value: remains on the card after each use. When you insert the card into the phone’s reader, it checks to see if your card has enough value to cover the call.

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