Saturday, 9 January 2010

Cheap International calls from South Africa using Calling Cards (no computer necessary): another HTT calculator to compare offerings

Yes, I’ve blogged about VOIP and SkypeOut and VoipBuster and NimBuzz and Fring and Dect-to-Voip but all of those require a computer or cell phone, and Internet connection (preferably ADSL or 3G/Edge).  Some of my readers and friends have asked for a much simpler way of making international calls and save money – in fact they are already using calling cards
Calling cards are more expensive than using your ADSL connection (probably slightly more than paying for the data charges on your cell phone unless you have a data bundle), but the low cost (relative to Telkom), simplicity and convenience of using a calling card from any phone is a very good option for a lot of people.

This blog article attempts to find a few services that are available in South Africa and compares their rates:

(Please note that I haven’t tried any of these web services, although I have purchased some physical calling cards from ‘Talk Time’;
Also, rates are taken from the services’ web sites and might differ from their actual charges;
Don’t forget to consider the costs of the local call to the calling card’s local service number (that’s the cost of the Telkom call) – call at Call-More-Time {weekends and on weekdays: after 19h00 to 06h59} else get a Telkom ‘Closer Plan’)

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Please note that HTT has not tried any of these services so cannot guarantee their services at all.  Quality of call, and rates might not be as depicted on their web sites.

Download HTT’s calling card calculator – download and read the “ReadMe” worksheet for instructions: HTT’s PhoneCallingCardsRatesCalculator
Note: the spreadsheet also compares VoipBuster and SkypeOut rates – did I say that VoipBuster rocks??!!! 
That DECT to VoipBuster solution is really convenient too :)

HelloHowzit: is dedicated to provide a low cost, high quality phone service offering discounted overseas international telephone calls.

Phone IT also known as: or 

They sell international phonecards for inexpensive international calls.  I think this is the service that provides the “Talk Time International Calling Cards”. 
Access numbers are: 011 - 232 9792 or 011 - 555 9600 or 021 – 673 6730

They also have a dial through service using the 087 8063555 access number, which is useful if you have free cellphone minutes to use up.

International phonecard rates start at R0.36 to most land line destinations. See the website for a whole list of countries.

Free R50.00 signup bonus on new South African call-through accounts!
This offer is valid for a limited time when opening a new R300 account.

The CARE project calling cards:
Make Free International Calls from you mobile or landline and support The C.A.R.E Project.  Save time and energy by using our free service and pay local call rates.  Use you mobile free minutes to effectively make free calls to overseas destinations. YES... It's FREE and support a charity organisation as well!

C.A.R.E (Caring. Assisting. Reaching. Empowering) is a non-profit organization formed to combat poverty and assist those less fortunate in realizing their potential towards self-empowerment.  The organization aims to do so by providing food and other products to poverty stricken communities, and advocating programmes for self- development and sustainability.

Dial the local access number (010 590 4444) and make free calls to over 60 countries. It's that SIMPLE!
Cellphone free minutes do apply, no PIN required, pay local mobile or fixed line rates.

All profits will be used to fund their social development projects which include:
  *) Funding and support of an orphanage
  *) Homeless feeding schemes
  *) Other social development projects to be initiated

1. How does it work ?
  i) Dial our local access number, 010 590 4444
  ii) Wait for the voice prompt
  iii) Dial your Destination number follows :
         00 <country code> <destination number>   e.g    00 44 207 3457654  (UK London)

2. What's the catch ?
Well... There is no catch.  You dial our access number, we obtain rebates from the service providers and the profits are used to fund social development and charity projects.

3. How much does it cost ?
Calls to global destinations are FREE!

Calls from your mobile provider depends on local call rates available on the package you have subscribed to.
Free mobile minutes may apply. This is not a premium rated service and you will be charged at local cellular rates to call our access number.  Peak and off peak rates apply thus determining the Free destinations available.

Calls from your Telkom landline to our access number are charged at R0.78 per minute during peak hours and R0.40 during off-peak.

4. Do I need a PIN number ?
NO. You do not require a PIN so call at your convenience

HTT comment: excellent rates to a limited list of 127 countries (and some cell phones).

Telesaver Phone Cards

HTT comment:
Excellent per minute rates BUT, beware: the cards expire: R50 expires 6 months after first use.  R20 expires 1 month after first use.  Recharging makes a card last for an extra 6 months per R50.
The rates listed are awesome!  Some are even better than VoipBuster!

HippoCom allows payment by credit card.
The International Pre-Paid Calling Cards are available in R25, R50 and R80 denominations. These cards allow you access to all our international destinations at the lowest prices.

Access Numbers: 031-251 8100 and 031-765 2248

See here for their FAQs: FAQs

Phone4You allows payment by credit card.
Web site is (still) undergoing an upgrade but shows the rates and compares them with Telkom rates (and % saving).

Updated on 09Jan2010 @ 17h00: added WorldChat and SunDial telecom (and updated WorldChat to calculator .xls)
{Didn’t change the verdict tho)

WorldChat: allows payment by credit card
Calls are billed per minute.

Denominations of airtime: R25, R50, R100, R200

Please note all cards expire within 90 days of initial use.
R200 cards will expire 180 days after initial use

A trick: to add another 90 days credit to your expired card & have access to your expired airtime, recharge online.  Even by recharging with the smallest denomination (R25 for which you'll only pay R22.50) you will get access to your expired credit as well as the extra credit you have recharged by!

Access numbers:
  *) Durban     031 2048090
  *) Johannesburg     011 2312800
  *) Cape Town      021 4871040
  *) Tollfree (but rates per minute to International countries is higher): 0800 1WORLD (0800 196753)

SunDial telecom:
Per minute charge varies according to the calling card denomination that you have purchased – the more expensive the card, the lower the per minute rate.

The advertised web site is not working: rather use: SunDial telecom

Access numbers:
Nationwide Share Call 0860 104649 – you pay for a local call (to Telkom) – this is NOT toll free.
CellSave 087 941 5000

Cape Town 021 402 0164
Johannesburg 011 252 1157
Pretoria 012 313 6930
Nelspruit 013 752 9524
Vereeniging 016 420 6447
Klerksdorp 018 406 2018
Rustenburg 014 590 2002
Standerton 017 727 8261
Kimberley 053 838 2040
Bloemfontein 051 411 0781
Durban 031 582 8218
Port Elizabeth 041 397 9805
East London 043 700 3005

Calls can be made to the 087 Cellsave access number from your cellular phone to use your free minutes (you receive a 30c discount on the per minute rate.) 
All calling card and subscriber calls made to the Toll Free access number (you don't pay local call charges)

See here for rates: SunDial telecom rates

HTT verdict: based on a random selection of countries (listed in the default filtered list in the spreadsheet) it is obvious that the Telesaver International Phone Card rates are the best – but, if you don’t use up your card within the expiry time, then you will lose your money! 
{R50 expires 6 months after first use. R20 expires 1 month after first use. Recharging makes a card last for an extra 6 months per R50.}
Don’t forget though, if you have ADSL, then VoipBuster is the best and cheapest!

Some tips: BEWARE of services that have 0861 access numbers – the rates are probably cheaper BUT they get a kick-back from Telkom per minute of the LOCAL call costs (to the calling card’s access number).

Here’s an excellent (although a bit dated) article from ‘Personal Finance’: Ten ways to cut your phone bill



  1. There are hundreds of voip providers. Choose the best. New VoIP Service - Voip review. Make cheap calls.

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  4. I got the Worldchat card - but the service was terrible. The person could hardly hear me on the other side. It was a waste.

  5. Thanks for all your comments!

    I'd also love to hear of experiences of some of the other services listed here

    HTT @ your service :)

  6. Have used Sundial and they are fabulous


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