Calling Card Review Methodology

Our in-depth calling card reviews are based on a careful and unbiased evaluation of each calling card company.

In conducting our reviews, we do initial background research on each company and then evaluate them on about a dozen key factors.

The evaluation criteria include card selection, pricing, customer support, website and usabilty, among other considerations.

Our calling card reviews are the most detailed reviews you will find on the web. If you take issue with any of our assessments, please leave a note on the appropriate review and we will seriously consider your input.

Note that these reviews are provided on an as-is basis. We assume no liability or responsibility for any decisions you make as a consumer that may, in whole or in part, rely on our reviews.

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Calling card ratings

Calling Card Ratings

On each evaluation factor, we rate the calling card vendor on simple 3-point scale shown by green / yellow / red circles.

The meaning of these ratings is described below. In some cases, we make additional comments to explain the calling card rating.

Calling Card Ratings Legend

Rating What It Means
Company performs at or above industry norms
Company has some issues, but concerns are not major
Company has serious issues

Calling Card Review Criteria

Using our 3-point rating scale, we evaluate each calling card company across about a dozen criteria as listed below.

Calling Card Review Criteria

Key Factors What We Look For
Competitive rates We complete a standard benchmarking process for each company in which we examine card pricing for 5 major international routes (e.g., USA-Continental to UK). We then compare that pricing to prices already in our database to determine how competitive the company's prices are. Company gets 'green' rating if their prices are generally at or near the low end of the market. Please note that this is a rough test of pricing levels and is not meant to be definitive. And it does not mean that each and every card sold by the company is necessarily competitively priced - or that prices are necessarily the lowest for any particular calling route.
'Clean' pricing / hidden fees We prefer cards that have relatively few added fees or surcharges (like connection fees). We downgrade firms that offer cards with complex pricing. We also do a thorough read of the company's Terms & Conditions or User Agreement and review all other relevant website content trying to uncover hidden fees or onerous conditions. The cleaner things are, the higher the rating.
Card selection As we do the pricing examination above, we count the number of cards available along each route. If a company has a good selection of cards for all or most routes, they get a 'green' rating. This test is more relevant for resellers, than for card originators/carriers who tend to carry smaller selections. Such companies will generally get a 'green' rating, even if they offer just 1 card. Whereas, we expect reseller to carry a larger selection.
Full disclosure We look for a clear, prominent and thorough listing of all major pricing elements, including per minute rates, billing increments, and all additional fees and surcharges. We give extra credit for full disclosure statements or tables that even include pricing elements that may not apply. A nicely formatted table/list with all applicable fees gets a 'green' rating.
Carriers In the case of resellers who market cards on behalf of 3rd parties, we look for them to disclose who the carrier is for each individual card and to provide a technical support number for that carrier in case you have technical issues or detailed questions about rates or rate calculations. We also dial the technical support numbers for at least 2 carriers to confirm the numbers are in working order. Finally, where applicable, we check to see if any of their main carriers have been involved in recent lawsuits or complaints. We give a 'green' rating to companies which disclose their carriers, if those carriers have a clean record and working technical support lines.
Website usability We test usability by going through a standard process for each company. The process consists of signing up for a customer account, shopping for 3 types of calling cards, setting up our account, including activating advanced billing and/or dialing features (like speed dial), if available, and, in some cases, making a small calling card purchase. If we find the company's website to easy to use across all or most of these actions, then we give it a 'green' rating.
Privacy and security For privacy, we look for a prominently displayed privacy statement that thoroughly describes the company's privacy policy. Such statement must outline what personal data is being collected and how that information will be used and secured. For security, we look for secure encryption of credit card purchases through a recognized SSL certificate provider (e.g., Verisign), verification of purchaser email accounts, and other security steps. Where available, we confirm SSL certificates. We also confirm that the website is safe and virus-free accordingly to AVG Internet Security software and/or other vendors. A company gets a 'green' rating if all of the above are in order.
Customer support We look for prominent placement of customer support email and telephone contact information. Then we call the customer support line and ask simple questions at least twice at different times to ensure lines are working and there aren't excessive wait times. Companies get a 'green' rating if all goes well.
Access numbers We dial into a sampling of the company's toll-free and/or local access numbers to confirm that they are working. We also ensure that these numbers are easily found on the website. We look for numbers that aren't in service or that are often busy and inaccessible. Company gets a 'green' rating if numbers are functioning properly.
Reputation We do a series of google searches looking for complaint-related items - and then review any identified items to assess authenticity and seriousness of problems (many complaints turn out to be written by competitors and aren't accurate). For US companies, we also look up company's Better Business Bureau profile for complaint history. Since no company is perfect, we expect any company will have at least a few complaints, so what we look for is excessive complaints, serious lawsuits or legal actions, and/or poor handling of complaints. We give companies a 'green' rating if there appear to be relatively few complaints and/or if complaints are handling effectively.
Advanced features In our view, no-PIN dialing, speed dialing, call metering, call history, and other features should be standard offerings for all calling cards. We give a 'green' rating to companies that offer these types of online account management features for their cards.
Return policies When you are paying steeply discounted prices like many calling card companies offer, you can't expect gold-plated return policies. But some companies enforce overly rigid policies. So we give a 'green' rating to firms that rise above industry norms, and especially prefer firms that provide 'balance transfers' that allow you to walk from a card that isn't performing and/or to recover 'stranded minutes' on cards with small remaining balances.
Incentive programs A goodly number of firms offer either a rewards program for frequent callers and/or a referral incentive when you send them new customers. We give a 'green' rating to companies that offer at least one of these programs.

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