Phone Home

Apr 30th, 2006, 03:42 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 5
Phone Home

Hi, We are leaving in one week to France and Italy for a month. What is the best and cheapest way to phone home? Help!
Artsy1 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2006, 04:17 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
i would buy a 5 or 6 euros phone card (will give you apporxiamtely 250 minutes)where they sell papers and magazines, or at phoning/internet centers.

use it from a pay phone in a hotel/restaurant/department store lobby, as from the hotel room could incur additional fees.
lincasanova is offline  
Apr 30th, 2006, 05:08 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 551
I am going to Europe in June and need to phone home to keep in tough with my elderly parents.

Are there places in the airport that sell these cards so I can call home after we arrive? Will I be able to understand the language on the card?

I can buy a phone card prior to departure that is supposed to work the same way we use phone cards in the US -dialing an access number, then entering an account number, a PIN and then the number to call. I notice these cards sometimes may have more than one access number for the same country, such as France which has France, France alternate and Paris economy. How does one know which number to use?

A friend told me that pay phones often require coins to reach the access number. And she said some pay phones will only work with a card that is inserted in the phone. Is the card that I would buy in the country one that is inserted in the phone?

Will I need to purchase a different card in each country?

Thanks for any help anyone can give me. Staying in touch with my parents is very important to their peace of mind and mine also. Since I've never traveled to Europe before I feel a bit of anxiety over my ability to communicate with them during our two week trip.
mlm59 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2006, 05:30 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
using the phone cards CAN be tricky, but i have found it is because some phones do not work. just keep trying.
i had to try four phones at CDG to get a card to work.

instructions come in many languages.

yes, you can buy these cards at CDG, from newspaper stands. they will have less variety than in the city, but i have bought one there before.

what is important to know is that the international access code is 00, then you mark 1 (for USA) and the number.

i have only bought the type of cards that are NOT inserted in phones, but have a pin number you scratch off.

yes, you would have to buy one in each country to call back from the usa. i have not seen any that work in france AND spain , for ex., although you may call anywhere you like.

you can always put a few euros change into public phone and call that way, too, in a pinch.

be sure to leave your family all your hotel numbers (fax, too and email address) and the time change so they could contact you at a normal time if they wanted to.

there are "phoning centers" around that are very convenient, too, where they charge you only the minutes you have spoken at very reasonable rates. these have cropped up due to the large numbers of immigrants with no landlines in their apts.

i have no idea where there are any in paris, though, sorry.

lincasanova is offline  
Apr 30th, 2006, 05:37 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Artsy, in the hope that this will provide general guidance, we use a calling card to phone from Australia to China. The company's card is sold everywhere here, even by post offices. Instructions on the card are bilingual (Chinese/English in our case), and so are the voice prompts ("for English, press 2"). On the back of the card are listed local access numbers in each of our major cities. They're not toll-free, so you need to pay for a local call (or if you're outside the local calling zone, make a toll call).

Once you've entered the card and PIN numbers you need to dial the international access code of the country you're in, followed by the country code (for the USA, 1), area code and local number, followed by #. The calls are very cheap and the quality, while not up to regular telco standard (slight transmission delay), is acceptable. On connection of each call, you're advised how much remaining credit you have, in minutes.

There's a huge number of such cards on sale almost everywhere you look, airports included, and some are better for specific destinations than others. Rates for various destinations are usually displayed prominently in shop windows.

I haven't yet had the opportunity to use a callng card in Europe, so if any of the above is likely to mislead I hope someone will post a correction.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Apr 30th, 2006, 06:41 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 26
We spent a month in Scotland and England last year. Our method of calling home was with an AT&T calling card. They can be purchased at Sams or Wal-Mart. I think the rate was about 2.96 cents/minute at the time. If you call home from France you will use about double the minutes but that still only uses 6-8 cents per minute. We called from phone booths, hotels and our relatives' homes. It worked out very well. At hotels you have to make sure they aren't charging you extra for the call. If they do you can usually use a phone in the lobby. The access # to call home from France is 0800 99 00 11.
You dial the access # then the number you are trying to reach and then your personal pin # found on the card. I called as often as I wanted. I did have to renew the minutes toward the end of our trip but that was easily done by credit card. The card will prompt you when you need to add minutes. Our son just went to the Dominican Republic. He called us from there using the access # for D.R. He is 16 and said it was very easy. I hope this helps.
jencar is offline  
May 1st, 2006, 05:47 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 551
Thanks so much for all of your help. Having never called home from Europe before, I have been a bit anxious about keeping in touch with my parents. I will check into the options you suggested further.

Does anyone know if there is a phone center in the airport in Rome? We will arrive there and I would like to make a short call to let my parents know we are okay.

It sounds like the cards I can buy in Europe are the least expensive way to call home, as long as there are instructions in English.

Thanks again for all of the advice.
mlm59 is offline  
May 1st, 2006, 05:56 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 5
My daughter spent time in Italy and France last summer. We sent her with an MCI International prepaid phone card. She had no trouble using it.
Carmen_2 is offline  
May 1st, 2006, 06:15 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
probably not a phoning center in airport but you should be able to buy phone card there,or wait an hour til you get to your hotel and THEN go to phoning/internet center, or get phone card at nearby kiosk near hotel.

do not worry. you will find a place to call and you will understand the instructions on card.

the staff at hotel will be more than happy to explain the card to you if you have doubts.

lincasanova is offline  
May 1st, 2006, 06:26 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 178
Personally, I don't like phone cards as I tend to jump about from country to country, and often I can not hear very well using the pay phone booths in the streets.

I much much much prefer to use the calling centers, often at internet cafes. It has been very easy for me in the past--I just call whomever, and then pay for the call! I can hear crystal clear and the calls are always cheap. I've never had a problem finding a call center; they're about as prevalant as internet cafes. However, I tend to travel only in big cities--so if you are hitting the countryside, small towns, etc., phone cards may be the only option.

oobylicious is offline  
May 3rd, 2006, 03:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 5
Hi, Thanks everyone for your wonderful input! The MCI card is available where?
Artsy1 is offline  

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