India Calling Cards – are they still worth it?

Trying to call India from abroad? We discuss the India calling cards method its pros and cons, and the best alternatives.

India is one of the fastest growing nations of the twenty-first century; not just in terms of population but also technology, education, business, and opportunity. With the start of 2020, the name of the game in this new decade is globalization. People are traveling to and from India at never-before seen rates and Indian businesses are spanning the globe. With this growth comes a skyrocketing need for communication.

Do you have family in India but are yourself living abroad? Do you need to make international calls to India for business? Are you traveling to India soon and need to call to make reservations or plans? Whatever the reason, you are now in the complicated position of having to find a way to make cheap calls to India.

Since using one’s own cell phone carrier to call internationally costs an arm and a leg, a popular option these days is using India calling cards. Let us dive into how this method works and whether it is truly a worthwhile option.


The Typical India Calling Card

A calling card is – as the name suggests – a plastic card (imagine a slightly flimsier credit card). You can find them at airport kiosks, gas stations, convenience stores, etc.

These cards contain a certain amount of “minutes” of call time and a destination (such as India) the calling card works for. The cost of the card is determined by these factors. Once you’ve bought the card you want, next comes the call…

  • Dial the number written on the card
  • Once it connects, dial the card’s pin number and/or access code
  • Finally, dial the number of the phone you are calling

Keep in mind that the recipient of your call will not see your cell phone number on their caller ID. Unfortunately, calling cards do not preserve your cell number. Thus, if you are calling a bank, a credit card, or some other organization that uses caller ID to verify user accounts (or just a relative who ignores calls from unfamiliar caller IDs), calling cards may not be for you.

Sounds complicated, right? Well, bear with us because that’s just the simple version. Now we have to dive into the hugely important fine print…


Too good to be true? The calling card fine print

Before you decide on using an India calling card there are some critical caveats you need to be aware of.

Remember those “minutes” we mentioned? Well, those minutes often don’t equal actual minutes. Confusing, right? The trick here revolves around the fact that calling cards often round up minutes (many cards round up in three minute intervals). Let’s say you use some India calling card to talk with your relative there. You talk for one minute and the card counts that as three minutes. Talked to a friend for seven minutes? The card might have just charged you for nine minutes. If you bought a 100 minute card, you often end up talking less than that before the card cuts you off.

On top of that, always check your India calling card for any other hidden fees in the fine print or elsewhere. Some cards include “surcharge fees” or “convenience fees” which they apply by counting extra minutes on the call. Many cards start counting minutes from the moment you dial a pin number rather than from the time you start speaking.

Here is another twist, not all cellular carriers support calling cards. Thus, before going out and spending your hard earned money on what promises to be the best calling card to India, make sure your carrier actually supports it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a shiny but thoroughly useless piece of plastic.

Finally, always check if the fine print lists an expiration date. Many calling cards burn the minutes if they are not used by a specific date, if the account is not refilled soon enough, or if the card is not used a certain number of times a month or year. Always be on the lookout for this or lose those minutes.


Are there alternatives?

That was definitely a whole lot of information to get through. All that complexity just to make cheap calls to India?! We deserve to be able to talk to friends and family abroad without reading a legal textbook beforehand.

Thankfully, India calling cards are not the only game in town. Yolla is an app that throws all that complexity out the window by offering one simple goal: cheap calls to India (and elsewhere around the world) with simplicity and transparency.

Yolla allows you to call cell phones and landlines in India and all over the world for excellent cheap rates. Yolla does away with all those complicated calling card rules and steps. You get HD voice quality, a preserved caller ID for the recipient, a user-friendly interface, and 24/7 support. Another bonus: Yolla synchronizes with the contacts on your phone and maintains your call history (two things calling cards cannot do). There are no hidden fees, your balance never expires, and you can even earn bonus free credits through the referral program.

Millions of people around the world have family, friends, and business contacts in India and are always looking for the cheapest way to call India. Calling cards are popular and – as they claim – affordable. If the fine print and many billing caveats of calling cards sound like a reasonable trade off, it may be the method for you. If calling cards seem untrustworthy, overcomplicated, and poor-value, we invite you to try Yolla and let 2020 be a year of affordable, reliable international calling.