Friday, April 16, 2010

Cheap calls to China

With good friends in China, we'd occasionally like to talk on the phone with them, but charges for calling to Beijing and Shanghai can be obscenely expensive. Our local phone company wants $6.60 per minute. No way! If we have a monthly international calling plan, we can call more cheaply, but we pay the charge even if we don't make any calls one month.

It would cost 89 cents a minute to call on our cell phones, but then my husband and I can't be on the line at the same time.

I searched online for cheap calls to China, and found some services that charge a couple of cents a minute. Now we're talking! But on closer investigation, I found they charge a connect fee which can be up to a dollar (or more) per call, and a monthly user fee to maintain your account. Plus, you have to buy a minimum $25 calling card. This is all certainly better than what our local phone company charges, but the plans either don't allow you to call cell phones or want more money. Cell phones are all our friends have.

But I found something even better, and at Walgreen's of all places. I usually buy refills there for oiur pay-as-you-go cell phones because the reloads are easiest with their system.

On the rack, tucked in with dozen of cell and landline phone cards, was Walgreen's very own international phone card. There are no connection or monthly user fees. The card comes in $10 and $25; I got the $10 just to see how it works. Wow!

The card says it costs 8 cents a minute to call China, but I'm wondering . . . We've called Beijing a couple of times already, and talked for several minutes each time. The first call was 35 cents, and the second call, which we thought was longer, was only 20 cents. Heck, it costs us 10 cents a minute just to call Seattle and that's only 200 miles away!

If you have need to call China or other countries, I'd recommend looking into the Walgreen's card to see if it will work as well for you. (Note the photo above is a pay phone booth in Beijing.)

If you're planning a trip to China, be sure to check out my website. And if you have questions about travel to the Middle Kingdom, email me and I'll try to answer them.

(NOTE: Per FTC regulations, I am required to report if I earned or will earn any money by endorsing this calling card. The answer is no.)

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