View Full Version : Phone Cards

11-21-2002, 19:08
What works best and where can I get the best deal? I heard Sam's Club was good - is that correct??

Lone Wolf
11-21-2002, 19:13
Me and my sweetie have one we got at Costco, similar to Sam's. $20.00 for 550 minutes. Can get it recharged when it runs low. MCI I think it is.

11-21-2002, 19:36
You can get that same MCI card for $20 also at BJs, it has worked well for me . . .


11-21-2002, 19:41
Be cautious of the Walmart phone cards. If you use a pay phone to place your call an additional 9 minutes will be deducted. It's a rip off.

When I reached Hot Springs last spring I quickly used up my phone card while dealing with a family crisis back north. The hotels in HS do not have inroom phones. You gotta use the payphones at the laundromat or across the street from the outfitter. The store at the laundry mat was sold out of phone cards, and the outfitter was closed (they too sell phone cards in Hot Springs). Ended up going through the operator and charging the calls to my home phone. Make sure someone is at home that will approve the charges. Try not to go this route though, it's very expensive.

The Weasel
11-22-2002, 03:00
There is an automatic surcharge of 75 cents for every phone card call made through a pay telephone. It's not the fault of the phone card company (Walmart or anyone else). It's the law. Thank you very much, WorldCom and all your cursed ilk. If you have a 5 cent per minute card, that means you'll lose 15 minutes "extra" each time you make a call.

This CAN be avoided, however, since it is called a "connect" charge: Many cards (I LOVE "BigZoo", at BigZoo.com 'cause you can do this) will have a code that if you're making multiple calls, you DO NOT hang up; when your call is finished, to move to the next one you hit a code number, and it returns you to the phone card service without another surcharge.

The Weasel

11-22-2002, 11:20
We used the sam's club on the trail. We are still using it for all our long distance. At 3.5 cents a minute I couldn't find long distance that could compete. Just program the 800 number and pin into the phone, and it's a piece of cake to use...
There is a small charge for the pay phones, but its much less than the call usually ends up costing.

Gravity Man

11-23-2002, 13:56
Is it an undisputed fact that ALL pre-paid phone cards incur a charge if the call is made from a pay phone ?? I heard from several hikers in 2001 that there were certain cards that did not have that curse.

Anyone out there have similar information. Or have things changed since 2001.

For those who have gone the SAM's or COSTCO route ...is there a fee for using a pay phone with the card ??


Lone Wolf
11-24-2002, 15:44
The one I got from Costco charges 2 units per payphone call. I guess units are minutes.

11-24-2002, 18:26
I think that my Walmart Card gets charged 6 units or so when I use a pay phone. Nothing when I don't use a pay phone. The charge double in 2002 over the 2001.

11-24-2002, 20:04
Some of you may use your phone cards to check on the weather or what's happening out in the real world. If you do, let me recommend 1-800-555-TELL. Follow the directions, speaking the command word to wade through the menus. They typically know what city you're calling from, so weather for that city is very easy.

There's no charge, you can opt out of hearing much more than a sentence of any ads, they've been around for at least 3 years, and for the life of me I can't figure out how they make money.

11-25-2002, 17:07
My MCI card has 575 minutes if I don't use a payphone and I paid $20 for it and at that rate it costs a little less than 4 cents a minute and it charges me approximately 6 minutes (24 cents) for each payphone call. It ends up working out cheaper than most phone cards I have seen out there. I would love to find out if there are any better deals.

12-29-2004, 09:41
I've used Big Zoo for years but now they are terminating their service. I saw a special on TV a while back that said to look for phone cards that don't round off the time. All the cards I see on the computer and in the stores round off from 1 to 3 minutes. Has anyone seen a card that doesn't round off the time?

Superman and Winter GA>ME 2000

12-29-2004, 10:10
I always buy my AT&T calling cards on eBay. I've averaged less than 3 cents per minute with those cards.

Tim Rich
12-29-2004, 11:03
Pay phone companies are allowed to charge for access to their phones. I've been using the prepaid cards for a number of years and the amounts and frequency of the surcharges have increased over the past two years. Most companies charge 25 to 75 cents (a 35 cent charge appears prevalent), and they are deducted from your dollar balance on the cards. If you make multiple calls without hanging up (my card from Costco allows me to press # twice to begin a new call), you are not charged the surcharge again.

I believe the surcharge is unique to the pay phone owner, not the calling cards. Regardless of the surcharges encountered when you have to use pay phones, the prepaid cards are a good deal along the trail. Compared to the rates of ten to fifteen years ago, long distance charges in general are a bargain.

Take Care,


12-29-2004, 11:15
I've used Big Zoo for years but now they are terminating their service.

Damn! Glad I saw this message. As with you, been using Big Zoo for quite some time. Makes it very inexpensive to call home.

Now, I'll have to find other sources for inexpensive calling cards.

12-29-2004, 11:33
What works best and where can I get the best deal? I heard Sam's Club was good - is that correct??================================
I asked this same question before my thru-hike in 2003. Got tons of answers. Best source of info for me came from a web search. Found a website (URL ??) that listed dozens of different cards and compared the charges. You have to look close since some of the charges are "subtle" and almost hidden but really add up. Do the math !! I ended up choosing a card (no longer remember the name) that was really cheap. Only issue was that it used an "888" number rather than an "800" number for dial in. No problem from pay phones but some motel phones are programmed to treat anything other than an "800" number call as "long distance". Some motels worked with me and sometimes I had to run out to the nearest gas station and make my calls from a pay phone.

If I can come up with that website or the name of the card I used I'll add a post later. But, I think you could probably do the same search and come up with updated information on your own.

AT 2003

12-29-2004, 11:49
Let me give you all the low down.....

1. Sams Club Cards...2.9 cents per min. Will have a surcharge on PayPhones, but not that bad. Using a land line, phones in stores, truckstops ect have them just for avoiding these charges. Can reup mins with debit or cr cd.

2. weather, world news, etc use: HeyAnita 800-442-6482 or TellMe 800-555- 8355. Try these out on home phones, these things are great.

12-29-2004, 14:45
i have never had a phone card,my cingular cell phone,no roaming,no longdistance charges,i love it,have used it from georgia to dalton mass.
:sun neo

Blue Jay
12-29-2004, 14:47
i have never had a phone card,my cingular cell phone,no roaming,no longdistance charges,i love it,have used it from georgia to dalton mass.
:sun neo

It fell into the privy at the Kay Wood Shelter and is still roaming.

Pooja Blue
12-29-2004, 14:58
I used Costco phone cards; found them invaluable.

12-29-2004, 15:01
It fell into the privy at the Kay Wood Shelter and is still roaming.oh no.ouch:sun neo