Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Calling the US from Italy (

indovina Jul 20th, 2006 05:40 AM

Calling the US from Italy
The last time I was there and bought calling cards to call home, I got ripped off and they were charging me more than they were supposed to.

What was the bet way for you to call home? I'll have to be more careful with the calling cards if I buy them there but are there any in the US that I can buy now to use there?

kayd Jul 20th, 2006 05:49 AM

Give calling cards a try again -- the Europa card for 5 Euros is good for about 200 minutes to North Ameirca. It is widely available in tabacs/newsstands, at least in Rome.
Here's a very thorough summary of the options (includes a picture of the Eurpoa 10-E card):

Sampaguita Jul 20th, 2006 08:19 PM

I use what's known as an "Edi-card" you buy from a tobbaco shop which displays a "TOTAP" sign, a 10 euro card gives me 360 minutes to USA using an 800 access number, or 600 minutes from a regular phoneusing a local access number.

justretired Jul 21st, 2006 03:57 AM

We had gotten advice, on the Fodor’s Forum, that the cheapest way to phone home from Italy was the “Europa” card, but the first tabaccheria where we tried to find one didn’t carry it. They did carry what was described as a similar card, called a “Black & Yellow” card, so we bought one of those for five euros. With both these cards, you call a number given on the card, and then, when prompted, enter a code number, also on the card (in a scratch-off section). We used the “Black & Yellow” card to make a couple of fairly brief calls to the US, after which it was used up.

We then went into another tabaccheria, and this time, found a Europa card, also for five euros. We used it for numerous calls back to the US during the remaining two and a half weeks of our trip. It reports your balance each time you use it, and the balance went down very slowly. That five euros essentially covered all our calls back to the US, and in fact, it still had almost 1 euro balance on it when we returned. I gave it to a friend who was about to travel to Italy, and she used for a while more, before it was used up, and she had to buy another one. So based on my experience, the “Europa” card is far superior in value to the “Black & Yellow” card.

- Larry

LuvToRoam Jul 22nd, 2006 04:40 AM

We just use our calling card/telephone card from Sam's Club. I simply type up the directions (for stateside & overseas), laminate it and carry them with us when we travel. For local calls (while we travel overseas) we have a GSM phone which we purchased here (cheap) and then we get a SIM card when we arrive overseas (at a tobacco shop). Has worked pretty well for us. I understand the Tracfones also can work overseas with a SIM. Shirley

esm Jul 22nd, 2006 05:09 AM

Another vote for Europa. I have a Sam's card too but the problem with those is that you need to call ahead and get appropriate access numbers before you travel as there's not enough room at the back of the card to print those. The rates are not anywhere as good as the card you buy in Italy and England.

SusanP Jul 22nd, 2006 07:18 AM

Just one more vote for the Europa card. There is a number on the back to call for English. As mentioned, 5 Euro for 200 minutes. The first time, I made around half a dozen calls, around 20 mins each, and had plenty of time left on the card. The second time I didn't use it as much, had lots of time left, so I gave it to a friend in Italy to use.

jrmama496 Jul 22nd, 2006 10:01 PM

What is the best way to use the card. From a public telephone? From your hotel? Are there additional charges with either method?

Jackie_in_Italy Jul 22nd, 2006 10:29 PM

I think I used to use that Europa card too, and it was good. However, I always use the <b>Happiness</b> card, and it's really easy and sounds quite similar to the Europa card (five euro card, scratch off the pin, dial given number, etc.), and it gives you about 220 minutes or so. The operator's instructions are given in Italian, but it's all translated on the card text, so you can understand what he's saying. Maybe you can use this as a backup plan, in case a tabacchi doesn't carry the Europa card.

kayd Jul 24th, 2006 06:10 AM

I used the Europa card from my hotel room; the hotel did not charge anything for the calls. I also used it from a pay phone at the airport, but the tollfree number to use from payphones gives instructions only in Italian, so I didn't understand them very well -- enough to make the call since I had used it a dozen times before, but not enough to understand if the per-minute rates were different.

wanderlust5 Jul 24th, 2006 06:20 AM

The Europa card works like a charm, and it is very inexpensive.

julie_Colorado Jul 24th, 2006 06:27 AM

Just let me warn you about one thing not to do. Never use the toll free number that is posted on the pay phone in Italy (and every pay phone will have one). I got lazy and used this. I ran up an 800$ phone charge on my Visa. I probably made about 15 calls to the US each under 10 minutes.

indovina Jul 25th, 2006 11:25 AM

Oh my goodness - $800! I'm really sorry to hear that. Actually for all you Cingular cell phone customers, they have a fair international plan where you can bring your cell phone to Europe and you can make phone calls to the US for 99 cents a minute plus a $6 monthly fee. It sounds high but with the calling cards they get you on the connection fee which is sometimes half the price of the card itself! In regards to 99 cents a minute, I'll be talking really fast to my relatives!

RufusTFirefly Jul 25th, 2006 04:45 PM

We just don't call home. Fortunately we haven't had sick family members or such to worry about on our trips so far.

kayd Jul 26th, 2006 05:29 AM

Indovina, I'm not sure what calling cards you are referring to with excessive &quot;connection fees&quot;, but there are no connection fees, only per-minute charges, with the Europa card I used in Italy.

monicapileggi Jul 26th, 2006 05:31 AM

I used the Europe card too from Italy in May - no problems at all. I also used it while in my hotel room and was not charged anything extra. I still have quite a bit of time left on it - I suppose it will work for me for next year.

Monica ((F))

justretired Jul 26th, 2006 06:13 PM

No, Monica, your Europa Card will <i><b>NOT</b></i> work for you next year.

I have a copy of mine here, and on the back it says, &quot;<i>Validit&agrave; 60 giorni dalla prima digitazione del pin</i>&quot;, which means &quot;Validity 60 days from the first entry of the PIN&quot;.

The reason I have a copy, and not the card itself, is that I gave the card to a friend who was travelling to Italy. You might consider doing the same. She used it up, and ended up buying two more.

- Larry

monicapileggi Jul 27th, 2006 04:34 AM

Too bad! I didn't read the &quot;fine print.&quot; I could have given it to my friend who went last month. Oh well, I got my use out of it anyway.

Monica ((F))

tcafarel Jul 28th, 2006 07:31 AM has a great article about using cell phones:

Margaretlb Jul 28th, 2006 09:21 AM

When in the tabac, you'll just need to make sure there's a little American flag or the letters USA. These E5 cards are great (when you call the 800 access number, the recording is in English).

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:32 PM.