Q: In the UK you can buy a phone card and by dialling a London number, entering the unique card code, you can then dial anywhere in the world cheaply. Do such cards exist in France? W.E.
A*: Phone cards have been around for a long time and have had some problems in the past associated with fraud. They are still available from tabacs in France and there are many different offers. You need to research them to find the best deal with regard to prices for destinations you call often.
A Google search will provide other options (try: carte téléphonique appeler a l’étranger moins cher).
One popular site can be found at: www.tinyurl.com/Rebtel-cards
Often, however, people chose a site that does not require you to purchase a card. You simply call their number (usually a premium rate one) then follow the detailed instructions ending in entering your destination number. The call charge then reverts to the lower published call rate. If you know what the detailed instructions are, you can start dialling your destination as soon as your call connects and so reduce the high-cost part of the call.
As your aim is to reduce costs take note of the different charges for calls to landlines and mobiles by different firms.
You may find that there are considerably fewer savings to be made than in the past as the competition between the main companies has been intense for the last two years or so, and if you have an unlimited call package you may just end up by paying more.
Note that it is possible to have your French telephone number translated to a UK low-cost number that can be given to friends and family so they can call you more cheaply than going through their normal provider. This is free and does not affect your French number, there is no contract to sign and set up is instantaneous. This service is not however available from the major French telephone companies.
Finally, in the near future you may benefit from the EU decision to severely curtail mobile roaming charges during 2015.
*This query was answered by Bob Elliott from telephone and broadband provider, UK Telecom.