What is the best way to purchase a calling card while in London to call back to the United States.
You can get one of the best calling cards at Costco. They are easy to use....
Rick and lots of people rave about calling cards but I have found them to be a pain. if you buy them over there, some work on some phones and some work on other phones, and then when they run out, you can spend a lot of time looking around for the right ones. I found in the UK and Ireland, many internet cafes have pay as you go phone booths, you just go in, make your call and pay on your way out according to how long you talked. you have a quiet, private booth to make your call. trying to call home on a busy, noisy street with a card with 12-14 numbers to dial on it can be a real pain in the neck. and if you don't have to call home, an email works great and you don't have some of the emotional tugs that come with a phone call if you are calling kids or parents.
I will pruchase the Mobal phone prior to my next visit outside the US. One time change $49/$99 for the phone and they will bill your credit card only when calls are made. A bit pricey per call but I would not be calling home to chit chat...can do that over the internet.
We purchased a mobal phone, but we also turned on our international dialing from our home landline with bellsouth. The rate was much cheaper than mobal.
So we would phone home to our kids to say "We're in the hotel room so call us". We hung up the mobal phone and they would call us from the landline at home to the landline in the hotel room for only a few cents per minute. It worked out great.
There were only a couple of different occasions where they had to call us on the mobal phone while we were out and about. Everything worked well and it wasn't too expensive.
What's the best option for a cellphone for use only in country? Can you pick up a prepaid at the airport? Can you rent something that can be dropped off on departure?
Also, alot of calling cards don't work in hotels. I had to go find a pay phone because the hotels said that the cards were blocked on their phones. And make sure it's an INTERNATIONAL card. The card I was sold in the Netherlands only worked in the Netherlands.
We didn't use a calling card, but we had an excellent experience with 3U Telecom long distance service. There is no minimum at all, and they do not round up. You pay per second. I actually called out-of-state and had a .04 charge calling to an answering machine. Out of the country, charges were 4.5 cents per minute. There was a $6.00 charge from our phone company to set us up. You can cancel whenever you want or just not use it. They give you an 800 number to call for each country, and there was never a charge from our hotel. If you want to check it out, the link is:
On the 21 day trip, I made 38 calls to the US and my total bill including tax was $26 and change, average of about .70 per call. We told one of our tour members about this, and she even signed up while on the trip.
AT&T has a great Europe calling plan. Like Barbara mentioned above with her calls, we call home a lot while taveling and have very, very low bills. Last time it was around $24.00. Also, easyInternet cafes has phones by their PC's and you can call thru the PC's which is really cheap.
I have a phone card from Rail Europe, which I LOVE! I highly recommend it! I've had for it 4 years and use it every time I travel. I even use it from US to call people in Europe and just used it to call my daughter in Peru. The rates are EXCELLENT. They give you an account number, and pin number and you can pay them with your credit card and even set up a preset amount to draft from your credit card when your balance falls below a certain amount...so essentially, it never runs out. Best of all your friends/family can call YOU toll free from US and leave a voice mail, which you can check periodically (or ignore, if you'd rather.) Most big cities have a toll free access code (London does) but you have to check to be sure your hotel doesn't add a fee even for a local number....found this out the hard way. You can check out the options at www.raileurope.ekit.com/ekit/home/
Its so easy to get a prepaid cell phone. The benefit of your own cell phone is 1) its sanitary over a public phone, 2) You can give your number to hotels, when booking reservations, and to family, and 3) Its easy to top up with more minutes if you need to.
You can get a phone at any UK Mobile store (ie: Orange, O2, Virgin) and the cost to call home isn't that expensive.