Your regular phone company probably offers such an international calling card. With the AT&T Direct Savings Plan calling card, for example, you pay 89 cents for a connection plus 99 cents a minute for calls to the U.S. from 140 countries around the world. Other local landline suppliers offer similar plans.
Third-party or local company cards, however, are usually much less expensive. For example, the World Access card charges just 3 cents a minute for calls from France to the U.S., with no connection fee.
But actual calling card costs are usually higher. Hotels almost always charge you for making even a local or toll free call from your room—fees that can be as high as $2 per call at upscale hotels, and some of them add a per-minute charge, as well. Getting a connection through a public phone can also entail a connection fee, and, even then, public phones are getting harder to find as more of the world switches to wireless. Still, if you don't mind the hassles of getting a connection and all the extra numerical entries, a cheap calling card may well be the very lowest way to call home.
Ed Perkins is a contributing editor to SmarterTravel and a respected commentator on all aspects of the travel industry, including passenger comfort and rights, travel insurance, the best credit cards for travelers, and car rental fees. SmarterTravel provides expert, unbiased information on timely travel deals, the best value destinations, and money-saving travel tips.