Calling Card Pricing - Who Sells the 'Cleanest' Calling Card?

In the market for a new calling card? We recommend buying a 'clean' calling card.

Clean calling card ratings

A 'clean' calling card is a calling card with relatively few extra fees. Because there are fewer fees, the pricing of clean calling cards is both easier to understand and more predictable under different usage scenarios.

With a clean card, you'll find that the advertised per minute rate is going to be closer to the 'real' per minute rate you end up paying after all extra fees are added in.

'Dirty' cards have more fees and it is harder to predict what you'll actually pay per minute. In some cases, the actual per minute rate you end up paying can be 5x or more higher than the advertised rate!

Since we are geeks, naturally we've calculated a 'clean card score' for 30 popular calling cards from 9 different companies. The results are shown in the tables below.

To calculate these scores, we did a detailed analysis of 9 pricing elements for each card. We then combined all these pricing factors with some assumptions about card usage (how many calls, how long the calls are, etc.) to determine an adjusted per minute rate and a clean score for each card.

The analysis produces two useful results. First is an estimate of the 'adjusted per minute rate' you can expect to pay for using a given card. This is, in effect, the loaded rate with all extra fees applied. The second result is the 'clean score'. The clean score calculated as the 'adjusted per minute rate' divided by the 'advertised per minute rate'. A lower score is better.

The lower the clean score, the closer the loaded rate is to the advertised rate. A higher score means a card has relatively more extra fees.

A perfect clean score would be 1.0 - meaning zero extra fees. But such cards don't exist because all cards charge at least a few extra fees.

In our analysis, the lowest scores we found were between 1.3 to 1.7. A clean score of 1.3 means the actual per minute rate is 1.3x more than the advertised rate -- meaning a card with a 1.0¢ per minute rate really costs you 1.3¢ per minute after fees are applied.

The highest score we found was 4.1 -- meaning a card with a 1.0¢ per minute rate really costs you 4.1¢ per minute after fees are applied. This is a pretty big difference! And we didn't even test the dirtiest cards on the market because those cards are so dirty we couldn't even do the calculations right.

Clean Score Highlights

Among the 9 companies and 30 cards / plans we analyzed, we found clean scores ranged from a low of 1.3 to a high of 4.1. The average score across all the companies and cards was 2.4.

The clear winner in this clean card comparison is Pingo - they have the best clean rating as a company and are tied for the best clean rating for their calling plan.

Company results

Among the 9 companies we analyzed, clean scores ranged from a low of 1.3 (best) to a high of 3.1 (worst). See table below for more company results.

  • Best company score: 1.3 (Pingo)
  • Worst company score: 3.1 (Comfi)

Note that despite having the worst clean score, Comfi had the overall lowest adjusted per minute rates, slightly edging out Pingo by 0.25¢ per minute.

Card results

Among the 30 cards / plans we analyzed, clean scores ranged from a low of 1.3 (best) to a high of 4.1 (worst). See table below for more card results.

  • Best card score: 1.3 (Pingo, Cloncom Connect USA)
  • Worst card score: 4.1 (Comfi Lucky Minutes)

We also made these observations about adjusted per minute rates and clean scores:

  • Cards with super low per minute rates generally have more fees and worse clean card scores.
  • Cards with higher rates tend to have fewer fees and better clean scores.
  • Cards with low advertised rates often have so many extra fees that they end up being more expensive than cards with higher advertised rates.
  • A high clean score does not necessarily mean high rates, but it does indicate complex pricing that is hard to understand.
  • A low clean score does not necessarily mean the lowest rates, but it does indicate simple pricing that is easy to understand.

Overall, we think our clean score is a good indicator of price simplicity and, as a general rule, simple pricing is better.

However, the best cards are cards with both clean pricing and low advertised rates - not necessarily the lowest available rate, but towards the low end. Such a card is going to be a definite winner.

That said, dirty cards can sometimes have very low adjusted rates, but it takes a math geek to tell the good ones from the bad ones. For most of us, it is just too hard to guessestimate the impact of such complex pricing and it is much safer to buy a clean card instead.

✩  Cleanest Calling Card: Pingo  ✩

read Pingo reviewmore Pingo offers

Clean Scores by Company

We calculated clean scores for 9 leading calling card companies. All of these companies are generally solid, reputable companies, so this is of the 'good guys' in the industry. Calculating the clean scores for some of the bad guys - e.g., Phonecardsmile - is not even possible because their pricing is soooo complicated, we can't even figure it out.

Of our 9 companies, two companies, Pingo and PennyTalk, sell only a single card / plan and so their score is a direct calculation for that one plan. The remaining 7 sell multiple cards and their scores are an average of four different cards pulled for each company.

The company with the lowest (best) score was Pingo with a score of 1.3. The company with the highest (worst) score was Comfi with a score of 2.7.

Despite having the highest clean card score, Comfi had the lowest adjusted per minute rate at 2.42¢. Pingo pricing was very competitive with an adjusted per minute rate of 2.67¢.

Despite having a reasonably good clean score of 2.0, PennyTalk had the highest adjusted per minute rate at 3.94¢.

Click column headers to sort by column. In US cents (¢), except clean score.

Clean Scores by Company

CompanyAdvertised per minute rateAdjusted per minute rateClean card scoresort icon
Pingo2.002.671.3
CallingCard.com2.253.571.7
Cloncom1.492.571.8
Enjoy Prepaid1.502.942.0
PennyTalk2.003.942.0
Nobelcom1.382.922.3
Speedypin1.032.702.8
CallingCards.com1.203.272.8
Comfi0.802.423.1

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NEXT: Clean scores by card...

Clean Scores by Card

We calculated clean scores for 30 leading calling card cards / plans. Of these, two companies, Pingo and PennyTalk, sell only a single card or plan, so they are represented just once. The remaining 7 companies sell multiple cards and the table include four different cards from each of these companies.

We tried to apply this methodology to cards from some of the less reputable companies in the industry (e.g., Phonecardsmile), but their pricing is too complicated and/or vague.

The cards / plans with the best scores were Pingo and Cloncom Connect USA with clean scores of 1.3. The card with the highest (worst) score was Lucky Minutes from Comfi with a score of 4.1.

The cards with the lowest adjusted per minute rates were the Partner card from Comfi at 2.07¢ and the Sonico Green card from Cloncom at 2.11¢, respectively. The card with the highest per minute rate was PennyTalk at 3.94¢.

Click column headers to sort by column. In US cents (¢), except clean score.

Clean Scores by Card

Card / plansort iconCompanyAdvertised per minute rateAdjusted per minute rateClean card score
1 Second UKNobelcom2.003.031.5
Call UKNobelcom1.502.972.0
CentsibleCallingCards.com1.003.113.1
ClearCallingCard.com2.603.681.4
Cloncom Connect USACloncom2.102.711.3
DiamondEnjoy Prepaid2.003.031.5
EmeraldEnjoy Prepaid1.502.531.7
Euro East & WestCloncom1.002.562.6
EuropeCallingCard.com1.202.992.5
EurotelCallingCards.com1.203.132.6
GeminiSpeedypin1.002.892.9
Global ConnectCallingCards.com1.103.142.9
Hello UKNobelcom0.902.893.2
InfinityCallingCards.com1.503.702.5
Lucky MinutesComfi0.702.904.1
PartnerComfi1.002.072.1
Penny BossComfi0.702.423.5
PennyTalkPennyTalk2.003.942.0
PingoPingo2.002.671.3
RubyEnjoy Prepaid1.203.222.7
SapphireEnjoy Prepaid1.302.982.3
SaturnComfi0.802.272.8
SecondsCallingCard.com2.904.051.4
Sonico GreenCloncom1.502.111.4
Sonico RedCloncom1.352.892.1
SPP EuropeSpeedypin1.502.821.9
Super StarSpeedypin0.802.192.7
Talk UKNobelcom1.102.782.5
TitanSpeedypin0.802.893.6
WorldCallingCard.com2.303.581.6

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Source Data for Clean Pricing Analysis

We compiled calling card pricing data from 9 companies and 30 different cards for our clean card analysis. The analysis is based on cards and rates for calling from the US to UK. Results may vary for other calling routes.

The analysis examined 9 pricing elements for each card / plan:

  • Advertised per minute rate
  • Toll-free surcharge
  • Carrier service charge
  • Billing increment
  • Connection fee
  • Maintenance fee
  • Payphone fee
  • Processing fee

The specific cards chosen were the first 4 results listed when we searched for cards for US to UK phone cards on the company websites. In the case of Pingo and PennyTalk which sell only one comprehensive calling plan, we simply used that one data point.

The rates used were the lowest quoted rates for direct calls from the US to the UK. In many cases, this rate was applicable for calls to landline phones only - calls to mobile phones are often higher.

See below for explanation of pricing elements. In US cents (¢), except as noted.

Calling Card Pricing Data

Company / CardAdvertised per minute rateToll-free surcharge (per min)Carrier surchargeBilling incrementConnection feePayphone feeMaintenance feeProcessing fee
CallingCard.com
Europe1.200.0015%2 min0.0079.0099.00 wk$1 on orders < US$20
World2.300.0012%3 min0.0079.00none$1 on orders < US$20
Clear2.600.0010%1 min0.0079.00none$1 on orders < US$20
Seconds2.900.0010%1 sec0.0079.00none$1 on orders < US$20
CallingCards.com
Centsible1.000.0015%3 min0.0099.0099.00 wk+1$1 on orders < US$20
Global Connect1.100.0015%3 min0.0099.0089.00 wk+1$1 on orders < US$20
Eurotel1.200.0015%3 min0.0089.0079.00 wk+1$1 on orders < US$20
Infinity1.500.0015%1 min0.0099.0099.00 wk+1$1 on orders < US$20
Cloncom
Euro East & West1.001.000%3 min0.0099.0099.00 wk50¢ on orders < US$5
Sonico Red1.351.000%2 min0.0099.0099.00 wk50¢ on orders < US$5
Sonico Green1.501.000%1 min0.0099.00none50¢ on orders < US$5
Cloncom Connect USA2.101.000%1 min0.0099.00none50¢ on orders < US$5
Comfi
Penny Boss0.700.0028%3 min0.0099.0089.00 wknone
Lucky Minutes0.700.0028%3 min18.0099.0088.00 wknone
Saturn0.800.0040%3 min0.0085.0059.00 bi-wknone
Partner1.000.0015%3 min0.0099.0059.00 bi-wknone
Enjoy Prepaid
Ruby1.201.000%5 min0.0099.0099.00 wk$2 on orders < US$40
Sapphire1.301.000%2 min0.0099.0069.00 wk$2 on orders < US$40
Emerald1.501.000%1 min0.0099.00none$2 on orders < US$40
Diamond2.001.000%1 min0.0099.00none$2 on orders < US$40
Nobelcom
Hello UK0.901.000%4 min0.0099.0099.00 wk$2 on orders < US$40
Talk UK1.101.000%2 min0.0099.0069.00 wk$2 on orders < US$40
Call UK1.501.000%1 min0.0099.0049.00 wk$2 on orders < US$40
1 Second UK2.001.000%1 sec0.0099.00none$2 on orders < US$40
PennyTalk2.000.000%1 min49.0099.0099.00 mthUS$25 min order
Pingo2.001.000%1 min0.0065.0098.00 mthnone
Speedypin
Super Star0.800.0020%3 min0.0099.0079.00 bi-wk$1 on orders < US$20
Titan0.800.0018%3 min0.0099.0099.00 wk+1$1 on orders < US$20
Gemini1.000.0025%3 min0.0099.0069.00 wk$1 on orders < US$20
SPP Europe1.501.5010%3 min0.0089.00none$1 on orders < US$20

Rate and Fee Definitions

Here is an explanation of the calling card pricing elements used in the analysis.

  • Advertised per minute rate - The advertised per minute rate is the quoted base rate for the card from a country of origin to a destination country (in this case, US to UK). We used the lowest applicable rate shown. Often this rate applied only for calls to UK landline phones. Rates to mobile phones may be higher. Per minute rates vary from destination to destination.
  • Toll-free surcharge (per min) - Some companies charge an extra fee to use their toll-free access numbers. This surcharge is typically 1.00¢ per minute. This charge can be avoided by using local access numbers, if available.
  • Carrier surcharge - Many cards sold by resellers include a carrier surcharge (aka carrier service fee). Normally this is stated as a percentage (e.g., 40%). This percentage is tacked onto the advertised rate for each call. For example, a card with a 1.00¢ per minute advertised rate and a 40% carrier service fee is effectively charging you 1.40¢ per minute.
  • Billing increment - Billing increment is used in calculating the the exact number of minutes you'll be charged for a given call. It works whereby the company rounds up the duration of the call up to the next complete billing increment. For example, you would be charged for 12 mins when making an 11 minute call on a card with a 3 minute billing increment (4 increments x 3 minutes per increment). If you had a card with a 5 minute increment, the same 12 minute call would be charged as 15 mins (3 increments x 5 min / increment).
  • Connection fee - Some companies charge a fee for each 'connection' you make on your card. Technically you can make multiple calls in a single connection by pressing '**' (or similar) to dial another number. But in practice most people don't do this, so connection fees are effectively a 'per call' fee.
  • Payphone fee - Card companies are required by law in the US to apply a fee to calls made from payphones. The exact amount is determined by the company. We found payphone fees varied from 65¢ to 99¢.
  • Maintenance fee - Most cards charge maintenance fees for as long as the card with a positive balance. We found the following variations: fee applied at end of each week (wk), fee applied after every 2 weeks (bi-wk), fee applied at end of each month (mth). Some cards also apply a fee after 1st usage and then weekly thereafter. This is shown as a '+1' in the table.
  • Processing fee - In many cases, companies charge a transaction fee for smaller card purchases. Since we assumed a US$15 purchase, most of these fees were applied in the calculations.

The analysis generated two calculated results that measure calling card 'cleanness'.

  • Adjusted per minute rate - The adjusted per minute rate is the calculated per minute rate after all extra fees and charges are loaded on. The adjusted rate is always higher than the advertised rate - sometimes many times higher. The adjusted rate calculations are based on particular usage assumptions (e.g., length of calls, number of calls, use of toll-free numbers, etc.). Different usage assumptions will change the adjusted per minute rate - sometimes significantly.
  • Clean card score - The clean card score is calculated by dividing the adjusted per minute rate by the advertised per minute rate. It is a multiple. A lower score indicates a 'cleaner' card - meaning the adjusted rate is closer to the advertised rate. A higher score indicates a 'dirtier' card. A perfect score would be a 1.0, but since all cards carry at least some fees, the lowest scores seen in the analysis were between 1.3 and 1.7.

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NEXT: Usage assumptions...

Usage Assumptions

How the many calling card pricing elements interact to determine your adjusted per minute rate depends heavily on your calling card usage in real life.

Key factors that impact real life adjusted per minute rates include things like how long your calls are, how long you hold the card for, whether you call thru a local or toll-free access number, whether you use a payphone, etc. The usage possibilities are nearly endless and can very hard to model or predict - even for geeks like us. This is one of the reasons we recommend clean cards - they perform about the same regardless of your usage pattern.

To conduct the analysis, we made a series of assumptions about usage. These assumptions may or may not reflect your actual usage, but they are designed to trigger more pricing elements to come into play. Other usage scenarios can be envisioned that trigger fewer pricing elements.

  • Calling route used for analysis: United States calling to United Kingdom
  • Period card is held and used: 31 days (1 month, 4.33 weeks)
  • Number of calls made per week: 3 (13 calls total)
  • Call duration: 37 minutes (481 minutes total)
  • Connections per call: 1 (13 total)
  • Percent of calls made thru toll-free access number: 20% (96 minutes)
  • Percent of calls made from payphone: 15% (2 calls)
  • Card value: US$15 (except PennyTalk which has $25 min purchase)

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Disclosure: AboutCallingCards.com recommends a small number of vendors based on in-depth company reviews and analysis. We recommend only firms that we believe deliver the best value to consumers. Read complete disclosure statement.

In the market for a new calling card? We recommend buying a 'clean' calling card.

Clean calling card ratings

A 'clean' calling card is a calling card with relatively few extra fees. Because there are fewer fees, the pricing of clean calling cards is both easier to understand and more predictable under different usage scenarios.

With a clean card, you'll find that the advertised per minute rate is going to be closer to the 'real' per minute rate you end up paying after all extra fees are added in.

'Dirty' cards have more fees and it is harder to predict what you'll actually pay per minute. In some cases, the actual per minute rate you end up paying can be 5x or more higher than the advertised rate!

Since we are geeks, naturally we've calculated a 'clean card score' for 30 popular calling cards from 9 different companies. The results are shown in the tables below.

To calculate these scores, we did a detailed analysis of 9 pricing elements for each card. We then combined all these pricing factors with some assumptions about card usage (how many calls, how long the calls are, etc.) to determine an adjusted per minute rate and a clean score for each card.

The analysis produces two useful results. First is an estimate of the 'adjusted per minute rate' you can expect to pay for using a given card. This is, in effect, the loaded rate with all extra fees applied. The second result is the 'clean score'. The clean score calculated as the 'adjusted per minute rate' divided by the 'advertised per minute rate'. A lower score is better.

The lower the clean score, the closer the loaded rate is to the advertised rate. A higher score means a card has relatively more extra fees.

A perfect clean score would be 1.0 - meaning zero extra fees. But such cards don't exist because all cards charge at least a few extra fees.

In our analysis, the lowest scores we found were between 1.3 to 1.7. A clean score of 1.3 means the actual per minute rate is 1.3x more than the advertised rate -- meaning a card with a 1.0¢ per minute rate really costs you 1.3¢ per minute after fees are applied.

The highest score we found was 4.1 -- meaning a card with a 1.0¢ per minute rate really costs you 4.1¢ per minute after fees are applied. This is a pretty big difference! And we didn't even test the dirtiest cards on the market because those cards are so dirty we couldn't even do the calculations right.

Clean Score Highlights

Among the 9 companies and 30 cards / plans we analyzed, we found clean scores ranged from a low of 1.3 to a high of 4.1. The average score across all the companies and cards was 2.4.

The clear winner in this clean card comparison is Pingo - they have the best clean rating as a company and are tied for the best clean rating for their calling plan.

Company results

Among the 9 companies we analyzed, clean scores ranged from a low of 1.3 (best) to a high of 3.1 (worst). See table below for more company results.

  • Best company score: 1.3 (Pingo)
  • Worst company score: 3.1 (Comfi)

Note that despite having the worst clean score, Comfi had the overall lowest adjusted per minute rates, slightly edging out Pingo by 0.25¢ per minute.

Card results

Among the 30 cards / plans we analyzed, clean scores ranged from a low of 1.3 (best) to a high of 4.1 (worst). See table below for more card results.

  • Best card score: 1.3 (Pingo, Cloncom Connect USA)
  • Worst card score: 4.1 (Comfi Lucky Minutes)

We also made these observations about adjusted per minute rates and clean scores:

  • Cards with super low per minute rates generally have more fees and worse clean card scores.
  • Cards with higher rates tend to have fewer fees and better clean scores.
  • Cards with low advertised rates often have so many extra fees that they end up being more expensive than cards with higher advertised rates.
  • A high clean score does not necessarily mean high rates, but it does indicate complex pricing that is hard to understand.
  • A low clean score does not necessarily mean the lowest rates, but it does indicate simple pricing that is easy to understand.

Overall, we think our clean score is a good indicator of price simplicity and, as a general rule, simple pricing is better.

However, the best cards are cards with both clean pricing and low advertised rates - not necessarily the lowest available rate, but towards the low end. Such a card is going to be a definite winner.

That said, dirty cards can sometimes have very low adjusted rates, but it takes a math geek to tell the good ones from the bad ones. For most of us, it is just too hard to guessestimate the impact of such complex pricing and it is much safer to buy a clean card instead.

✩  Cleanest Calling Card: Pingo  ✩

read Pingo reviewmore Pingo offers

Clean Scores by Company

We calculated clean scores for 9 leading calling card companies. All of these companies are generally solid, reputable companies, so this is of the 'good guys' in the industry. Calculating the clean scores for some of the bad guys - e.g., Phonecardsmile - is not even possible because their pricing is soooo complicated, we can't even figure it out.

Of our 9 companies, two companies, Pingo and PennyTalk, sell only a single card / plan and so their score is a direct calculation for that one plan. The remaining 7 sell multiple cards and their scores are an average of four different cards pulled for each company.

The company with the lowest (best) score was Pingo with a score of 1.3. The company with the highest (worst) score was Comfi with a score of 2.7.

Despite having the highest clean card score, Comfi had the lowest adjusted per minute rate at 2.42¢. Pingo pricing was very competitive with an adjusted per minute rate of 2.67¢.

Despite having a reasonably good clean score of 2.0, PennyTalk had the highest adjusted per minute rate at 3.94¢.

Click column headers to sort by column. In US cents (¢), except clean score.

Clean Scores by Company

CompanyAdvertised per minute rateAdjusted per minute rateClean card scoresort icon
Pingo2.002.671.3
CallingCard.com2.253.571.7
Cloncom1.492.571.8
Enjoy Prepaid1.502.942.0
PennyTalk2.003.942.0
Nobelcom1.382.922.3
Speedypin1.032.702.8
CallingCards.com1.203.272.8
Comfi0.802.423.1

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NEXT: Clean scores by card...

Clean Scores by Card

We calculated clean scores for 30 leading calling card cards / plans. Of these, two companies, Pingo and PennyTalk, sell only a single card or plan, so they are represented just once. The remaining 7 companies sell multiple cards and the table include four different cards from each of these companies.

We tried to apply this methodology to cards from some of the less reputable companies in the industry (e.g., Phonecardsmile), but their pricing is too complicated and/or vague.

The cards / plans with the best scores were Pingo and Cloncom Connect USA with clean scores of 1.3. The card with the highest (worst) score was Lucky Minutes from Comfi with a score of 4.1.

The cards with the lowest adjusted per minute rates were the Partner card from Comfi at 2.07¢ and the Sonico Green card from Cloncom at 2.11¢, respectively. The card with the highest per minute rate was PennyTalk at 3.94¢.

Click column headers to sort by column. In US cents (¢), except clean score.

Clean Scores by Card

Card / plansort iconCompanyAdvertised per minute rateAdjusted per minute rateClean card score
1 Second UKNobelcom2.003.031.5
Call UKNobelcom1.502.972.0
CentsibleCallingCards.com1.003.113.1
ClearCallingCard.com2.603.681.4
Cloncom Connect USACloncom2.102.711.3
DiamondEnjoy Prepaid2.003.031.5
EmeraldEnjoy Prepaid1.502.531.7
Euro East & WestCloncom1.002.562.6
EuropeCallingCard.com1.202.992.5
EurotelCallingCards.com1.203.132.6
GeminiSpeedypin1.002.892.9
Global ConnectCallingCards.com1.103.142.9
Hello UKNobelcom0.902.893.2
InfinityCallingCards.com1.503.702.5
Lucky MinutesComfi0.702.904.1
PartnerComfi1.002.072.1
Penny BossComfi0.702.423.5
PennyTalkPennyTalk2.003.942.0
PingoPingo2.002.671.3
RubyEnjoy Prepaid1.203.222.7
SapphireEnjoy Prepaid1.302.982.3
SaturnComfi0.802.272.8
SecondsCallingCard.com2.904.051.4
Sonico GreenCloncom1.502.111.4
Sonico RedCloncom1.352.892.1
SPP EuropeSpeedypin1.502.821.9
Super StarSpeedypin0.802.192.7
Talk UKNobelcom1.102.782.5
TitanSpeedypin0.802.893.6
WorldCallingCard.com2.303.581.6

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Source Data for Clean Pricing Analysis

We compiled calling card pricing data from 9 companies and 30 different cards for our clean card analysis. The analysis is based on cards and rates for calling from the US to UK. Results may vary for other calling routes.

The analysis examined 9 pricing elements for each card / plan:

  • Advertised per minute rate
  • Toll-free surcharge
  • Carrier service charge
  • Billing increment
  • Connection fee
  • Maintenance fee
  • Payphone fee
  • Processing fee

The specific cards chosen were the first 4 results listed when we searched for cards for US to UK phone cards on the company websites. In the case of Pingo and PennyTalk which sell only one comprehensive calling plan, we simply used that one data point.

The rates used were the lowest quoted rates for direct calls from the US to the UK. In many cases, this rate was applicable for calls to landline phones only - calls to mobile phones are often higher.

See below for explanation of pricing elements. In US cents (¢), except as noted.

Calling Card Pricing Data

Company / CardAdvertised per minute rateToll-free surcharge (per min)Carrier surchargeBilling incrementConnection feePayphone feeMaintenance feeProcessing fee
CallingCard.com
Europe1.200.0015%2 min0.0079.0099.00 wk$1 on orders < US$20
World2.300.0012%3 min0.0079.00none$1 on orders < US$20
Clear2.600.0010%1 min0.0079.00none$1 on orders < US$20
Seconds2.900.0010%1 sec0.0079.00none$1 on orders < US$20
CallingCards.com
Centsible1.000.0015%3 min0.0099.0099.00 wk+1$1 on orders < US$20
Global Connect1.100.0015%3 min0.0099.0089.00 wk+1$1 on orders < US$20
Eurotel1.200.0015%3 min0.0089.0079.00 wk+1$1 on orders < US$20
Infinity1.500.0015%1 min0.0099.0099.00 wk+1$1 on orders < US$20
Cloncom
Euro East & West1.001.000%3 min0.0099.0099.00 wk50¢ on orders < US$5
Sonico Red1.351.000%2 min0.0099.0099.00 wk50¢ on orders < US$5
Sonico Green1.501.000%1 min0.0099.00none50¢ on orders < US$5
Cloncom Connect USA2.101.000%1 min0.0099.00none50¢ on orders < US$5
Comfi
Penny Boss0.700.0028%3 min0.0099.0089.00 wknone
Lucky Minutes0.700.0028%3 min18.0099.0088.00 wknone
Saturn0.800.0040%3 min0.0085.0059.00 bi-wknone
Partner1.000.0015%3 min0.0099.0059.00 bi-wknone
Enjoy Prepaid
Ruby1.201.000%5 min0.0099.0099.00 wk$2 on orders < US$40
Sapphire1.301.000%2 min0.0099.0069.00 wk$2 on orders < US$40
Emerald1.501.000%1 min0.0099.00none$2 on orders < US$40
Diamond2.001.000%1 min0.0099.00none$2 on orders < US$40
Nobelcom
Hello UK0.901.000%4 min0.0099.0099.00 wk$2 on orders < US$40
Talk UK1.101.000%2 min0.0099.0069.00 wk$2 on orders < US$40
Call UK1.501.000%1 min0.0099.0049.00 wk$2 on orders < US$40
1 Second UK2.001.000%1 sec0.0099.00none$2 on orders < US$40
PennyTalk2.000.000%1 min49.0099.0099.00 mthUS$25 min order
Pingo2.001.000%1 min0.0065.0098.00 mthnone
Speedypin
Super Star0.800.0020%3 min0.0099.0079.00 bi-wk$1 on orders < US$20
Titan0.800.0018%3 min0.0099.0099.00 wk+1$1 on orders < US$20
Gemini1.000.0025%3 min0.0099.0069.00 wk$1 on orders < US$20
SPP Europe1.501.5010%3 min0.0089.00none$1 on orders < US$20

Rate and Fee Definitions

Here is an explanation of the calling card pricing elements used in the analysis.

  • Advertised per minute rate - The advertised per minute rate is the quoted base rate for the card from a country of origin to a destination country (in this case, US to UK). We used the lowest applicable rate shown. Often this rate applied only for calls to UK landline phones. Rates to mobile phones may be higher. Per minute rates vary from destination to destination.
  • Toll-free surcharge (per min) - Some companies charge an extra fee to use their toll-free access numbers. This surcharge is typically 1.00¢ per minute. This charge can be avoided by using local access numbers, if available.
  • Carrier surcharge - Many cards sold by resellers include a carrier surcharge (aka carrier service fee). Normally this is stated as a percentage (e.g., 40%). This percentage is tacked onto the advertised rate for each call. For example, a card with a 1.00¢ per minute advertised rate and a 40% carrier service fee is effectively charging you 1.40¢ per minute.
  • Billing increment - Billing increment is used in calculating the the exact number of minutes you'll be charged for a given call. It works whereby the company rounds up the duration of the call up to the next complete billing increment. For example, you would be charged for 12 mins when making an 11 minute call on a card with a 3 minute billing increment (4 increments x 3 minutes per increment). If you had a card with a 5 minute increment, the same 12 minute call would be charged as 15 mins (3 increments x 5 min / increment).
  • Connection fee - Some companies charge a fee for each 'connection' you make on your card. Technically you can make multiple calls in a single connection by pressing '**' (or similar) to dial another number. But in practice most people don't do this, so connection fees are effectively a 'per call' fee.
  • Payphone fee - Card companies are required by law in the US to apply a fee to calls made from payphones. The exact amount is determined by the company. We found payphone fees varied from 65¢ to 99¢.
  • Maintenance fee - Most cards charge maintenance fees for as long as the card with a positive balance. We found the following variations: fee applied at end of each week (wk), fee applied after every 2 weeks (bi-wk), fee applied at end of each month (mth). Some cards also apply a fee after 1st usage and then weekly thereafter. This is shown as a '+1' in the table.
  • Processing fee - In many cases, companies charge a transaction fee for smaller card purchases. Since we assumed a US$15 purchase, most of these fees were applied in the calculations.

The analysis generated two calculated results that measure calling card 'cleanness'.

  • Adjusted per minute rate - The adjusted per minute rate is the calculated per minute rate after all extra fees and charges are loaded on. The adjusted rate is always higher than the advertised rate - sometimes many times higher. The adjusted rate calculations are based on particular usage assumptions (e.g., length of calls, number of calls, use of toll-free numbers, etc.). Different usage assumptions will change the adjusted per minute rate - sometimes significantly.
  • Clean card score - The clean card score is calculated by dividing the adjusted per minute rate by the advertised per minute rate. It is a multiple. A lower score indicates a 'cleaner' card - meaning the adjusted rate is closer to the advertised rate. A higher score indicates a 'dirtier' card. A perfect score would be a 1.0, but since all cards carry at least some fees, the lowest scores seen in the analysis were between 1.3 and 1.7.

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NEXT: Usage assumptions...

Usage Assumptions

How the many calling card pricing elements interact to determine your adjusted per minute rate depends heavily on your calling card usage in real life.

Key factors that impact real life adjusted per minute rates include things like how long your calls are, how long you hold the card for, whether you call thru a local or toll-free access number, whether you use a payphone, etc. The usage possibilities are nearly endless and can very hard to model or predict - even for geeks like us. This is one of the reasons we recommend clean cards - they perform about the same regardless of your usage pattern.

To conduct the analysis, we made a series of assumptions about usage. These assumptions may or may not reflect your actual usage, but they are designed to trigger more pricing elements to come into play. Other usage scenarios can be envisioned that trigger fewer pricing elements.

  • Calling route used for analysis: United States calling to United Kingdom
  • Period card is held and used: 31 days (1 month, 4.33 weeks)
  • Number of calls made per week: 3 (13 calls total)
  • Call duration: 37 minutes (481 minutes total)
  • Connections per call: 1 (13 total)
  • Percent of calls made thru toll-free access number: 20% (96 minutes)
  • Percent of calls made from payphone: 15% (2 calls)
  • Card value: US$15 (except PennyTalk which has $25 min purchase)

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