Where to buy legal VoIP calling cards in UAE?

These cards come in various denominations starting Dh15 to Dh50 (Supplied)

Ever wondered how you could cut down your international calling bills without resorting to illegal channels?

You could simply pick up VoIP international calling cards that give you more talk-time for the dirham.

The two big telephone operators – du and Etisalat – offer international calling cards that provide great quality at hugely discounted rates.

It just means tension-free, longer telephone chats with your family back home.

These cards have been in the market for a while now, but not many are aware of it, or know where to find them.

"I didn't even know there were calling cards until recently. I use it when I need to call home, without having to think twice about the cost," said a resident Jhanani. "The calls are clear. There are no delays, and the quality is good."

These cards, come in various denominations starting Dh15 to Dh50, and can be found in your local grocery store, some supermarkets and even outlets of the two telecom operators.

The du cards are called Hello!, while Etisalat cards are called Five.

"Du offers cost-effective calling benefits through Hello! VoIP calling card, which caters to the expatriate community, widely available in the UAE," said a company spokesperson.

"The rates offered on Hello! calling card are highly competitive and call quality is far more superior compared to those offered by unauthorized VoIP calling cards in the market.

"In addition, there is no risk of losing credit. The card can be used for both mobile and landline."

The Hello! calling cards come in three denominations - Dh15, Dh30 and Dh50, while Etisalat's Five comes in two – Dh20 and Dh50.

Both calling cards work on Etisalat and du connections.

The Dh15 has a little over an hour of calling time to India, and a validity of 15 days. The higher the denomination, the longer the validity.

Etisalat's Five calling card offers discounted call rates to Bangladesh, China, India, Kuwait, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka for as little as 40 fils per minute.

Highlighting what went into this concept, Etisalat claims it's a way to help expat communities stay in touch with their families back home. "In many countries with high expatriate population, low cost international calling cards have been a popular way to make international calls. Therefore, we designed a product to cater to their international calling needs, giving them a low-cost option, which may not be at par in terms of call quality with standard calling, but meets their needs in terms of affordability."

The exercise is fairly simple. Each card has an exclusive number that consists of 12 digits or more. You would need to dial the exclusive toll-free number listed on the card, key in the code, and then dial the number you wish to call.

The telephone providers stress that "illegal channels not only flout the laws set by local authorities, but users may find that they are exposed to greater risks and inconvenience in using them."

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