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How Calling Cards Got Started In The United States

Aug 17, 2007
Do you often wonder how the idea of calling cards was even invented? Was there a fabulous story behind the beginnings of these now highly used cards? Most of us don't stop to think about the beginnings of products that we use on a constant basis. But it is nice to look closer at the evolution of the calling card and understand the roots behind its invention.

It all started in 1975 with a basic idea to offer people a way to pay for calls when they did not have the funds. In 1976 there was a huge coin shortage in Italy that really set off the use of calling cards. The calling card did not official appear in the United States until 1987 when people started using the cards for convenience when they were on public telephones. The World Telecom Group was the business force behind the early calling cards.

The calling card business was growing faster than anyone had ever imagined. People were making huge amounts of money just by investing in companies that provided calling cards to the world. The novel idea of selling a card to pay for your phone calls was finally beginning to pay off. As the 1980s and 1990s came around the calling card business was booming.

World Telecom Group was the dominating player with the phone card introduction to the US public in 1987. In 1990 New York's Regional Bell Operating Company launched a calling card campaign with the first non magnetic based phone cards used by dialing an access number and a PIN number to terminate calls.

The calling card became a full telecommunication business playing field by 1992 with all major companies releasing their own brand of calling card. The companies continued to market their long distance services as they were more profitable and easier than trying to convince the public to switch to a new, less convenient service; however, sales for the Plastic Wonders grew to about twelve million industry wide with no ceiling potential projected.

The consumers' view of the calling card was service "To Go" and at a discounted rate offered by the local long distance carriers. Unlike some of the long distant plans by the local carrier that had different rates for different times, a calling card had a consistent flat rate and could be used from any phone to any phone continental US. By buying the pre paid phone cards, one knew exactly their long distant consumption versus the "hold your breath while you opened the bill" of the traditional long distance service. A Phone card as well offered convenience of not intruding on financial long distance budget of others by using their phone to make calls.

In 2001 the industry revolutionized its self again. The first prepaid mobile phone became available. After the minutes were used up, the phone could either be recharged or discarded and a new one purchased. A prepaid cell phone has all the convenience of a phone card, without the hassle of trying to find a phone to use. Prepaid wireless phones work identical to contract phones in terms of service quality and portability. Like the calling card market, analysts are predicting the prepaid mobile phone market to increase exponentially.

The calling card market was quickly becoming a fast past business. More and more businesses were beginning to offer cards and it was easier and easier for people to find a card that offered a low rate. Many people purchased calling cards instead of even bothering to get long distance on their phones at home.

Sales have skyrocketed to the millions since the first release on prepaid phones. Last September, 2005, IDT launched a new brand of prepaid cell phones targeted at the Latino and Hispanic population.

Now you can get calling cards at almost every convenience store and shopping center. You can find great deals and huge discounts. It is also possible to get calling card numbers through the Internet. You don't get a physical card, but you pay for the number of minutes that you need and get a specialized pin number.

Before purchasing a calling card you should do a little research on the company and make sure they offer a good customer service department and that they do not have any complaints with the local better business bureau. There are tons of fly by night companies that pop up just to sell calling cards then quickly fall out of sight. Save yourself the headache by doing your research up front.
About the Author
Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Florida. Find more about this as well as International Calling Cards at http://www.internationalcallingplus.com
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