How to start a prepaid international calling card business

Written by jerry garner
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Owning a prepaid international calling card business is as good as having a gold mine for many business owners. A lot of people assume that the calling card business has taken a hard hit by the cell phone industry, but this is not necessarily true. The fact is that calling cards are often the cheapest way to make international telephone calls. International calling cards are used extensively by people who also have cell phones.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Start-up capital
  • VOIP servers
  • Call manager software

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Write a business plan for your prepaid international calling card business. Identify who your suppliers will be and how you will manage the technical aspects of the business. Identify what your target market is and how you will advertise your brand to the consumers in that market. Account for all of the costs of doing business, and come up with a revenue forecast of how those costs will be covered.

  2. 2

    Obtain the funds necessary to cover the first year start-up costs of the calling card business. Personal loans from banks and friends are a common way of funding a business, and many new business owners will carry a lot of initial debt on credit cards. Evaluate the resources available to you and determine the best way to finance the international prepaid card business.

  3. 3

    Choose a software solution to power the prepaid international calling card business. One option is to hire a programming team to build a customer software program. Another is to use the "CardSaver" program that is sold by Voice Saver. This software will answer the inbound call, verify the PIN number of the customer's calling card, allocate the available minutes for the call and update the account balance at the end of the call. A link to this software has been placed in the Resources section.

  4. 4

    Acquire the servers and server hosting that is necessary to run your prepaid calling card business. The servers that you need will depend primarily on two factors. First is the software you selected or developed, since different software programs may have different hardware configurations needed. Second is the number of concurrent callers you have on the system. The more calls that will be placed at the same time, the bigger and more powerful the server needs to be. For extremely large call volumes (over 750 concurrent calls), you may even need to use multiple servers. All of your servers should be professionally hosted in a co-location facility rather than kept on the Internet connection at your home or office.

  5. 5

    Buy airtime from a long-distance carrier. To operate a prepaid international phone card business, you will need to buy a block of airtime at once. The minimum purchase will be several thousand minutes, which are divided among the cards you will print and sell. You will buy minutes for a low price, since you buy in bulk, and then resale those minutes at a higher price, by way of the prepaid calling card. There are many network carriers who sell airtime for this purpose. Tata Communications is one of the largest global networks. A link can be found in the Resources section.

  6. 6

    Find a printer who can produce your cards. Any print shop can handle a job of this nature. Find one that has printed prepaid international calling cards before. Ask for a sample of their work. Inspect the thickness of the card, the quality of the print and how durable the silver strip over the PIN number is. Check to see if it is easy to remove the silver-scratch coat without damaging the PIN number beneath. Agree on a design and price, and print your cards.

  7. 7

    Partner with retail locations to sell your calling cards. It is difficult to sell cards directly, so build partnerships with retail locations that can sell the cards for you. Department stores, chemists and check cashing locations are all idea businesses to sell your cards. They will need to profit from each sale in order for it to be worthwhile for them to carry your product. Offering 10p for each card sold is a fair and adequate incentive.

Tips and warnings

  • Understand when the minutes you purchase from the carrier will expire, and determine if you will be able to sell those minutes in the allotted time. Unsold minutes represent part of your investment going down the drain.

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