Interesting debate, should we use paid calling cards in the age where services like skype or Yahoo VOIP offers free calling facilities…

Many people ignore calling cards, preferring to use Skype or other online voice chat to make long distance calls, often for free. Truth be told, with products that allow you to talk for free, why would you still need a calling card? Well, let’s see:

1. Although we don’t think about it too often, the truth is not everyone has access to the right computer equipment and a good enough internet connection.

That shouldn’t be too hard to believe. For example, think of your parents (or grandparents) – do you think they know that they can plug a microphone into the computer, let alone where? Some applications have tried to address this by letting you use your computer to call out to a regular phone; but guess what – that’s NOT free! And calling cards offer significantly lower rates than what those outbound computer-to-phone calls will charge you.

2. Online chat isn’t always that appropriate.

“Hello, prospective international employer. I will be on Skype from 4-8 GMT. Please meet me there.” Yeah, right! What about calling a hotel in Italy to make honeymoon reservations? Do you really think you can Skype them? If voice chat is appropriate for some industries, for others it is simple a no-no. Some things just require a plain old phone.

There’s also the problem of quality that should be addressed here: the delay that can come with networks (that weird-sounding thing that happens when syllables get blurred together or whole words get lost) might be ok when calling friends, but what about  business deals?

3. How about when you’re travelling.

Have you ever tried to track down a reliable internet connection while you’re on the road? Or let’s say… in a foreign country? Internet cafes are pretty common in most places you’re likely to travel; but not many have equipment for voice chat (and many are so loud that it wouldn’t matter if they DO have the equipment). And on top of all that, calling cards or phone cards are cheaper! It costs an average 15 eurocents/minute to use a computer in Europe, and cruise ship internet connections average about 70-90 cents per minute; a international phone card would give you a rate of about 7 cents USD. Imagine that!

4. Scheduling online meetings is almost ALWAYS a pain.

Yeah; then add in time differences and network outages, equipment failures, and you’ve left everyone with their headsets on, staring at their monitors, while they wait for you to arrive to the chat… If this takes too long, someone will probably call the delayed party to figure out what’s going on; so why not save the hassle and just do the whole meeting over the phone?

Even if you’re all for new technology, sometimes there’s a good reason to hang onto the old stuff, too. Calling cards will definitely save you time, money, and a lot of trouble in some situations.

At the end of the day, the end customers or users are the one who can decide the best.