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FAQS


* What IS a Phone Card?

A Phonecard is usually a plastic card similar in size to a credit card. It allows the user to make long distance telephone calls generally at a MUCH cheaper rate than a traditional calling card. Almost every convenience store and service station in the USA sells them, and they're also found in most drug stores, airports, and convention centers. Even the U.S. Post Offices carry the "First Class" phonecards (though their rates are NOT very competitive with the many other phone cards available).

Remember though, phone cards are usually not to be used from your own home or business phone because often it's MORE expensive than regular "1+" dialing. They usually become more cost-effective when used AWAY from your own home or business. They are Perfect for most travelers and college students, and from most hotel rooms or payphones. Check to be sure by looking at the small print ...
* Is there a connection fee?
* Is there a minimum number of minutes that you're charged?
* Are the minutes rounded up?
* Is there a monthly service fee or "decrement" charge?
* How long is the expiration date?

Some phonecard issuers follow foreign traditions of "Chip Cards" (an electronic chip is embedded in the card), or "magnetic stripe" (a built-in information stripe or area on the card), or "optical cards" (read with laser beam technology). These technologies store the amount of time the caller is allowed to speak ... and they're stored right on the card itself (which means that the card must be inserted into a telephone capable of reading the card). Many people refer to these "chip" cards as "smart" cards ... but they really AREN'T that smart. They can't do surveys, nor do they offer many other interactive features or programs that the "remote" cards can offer. The advantage of mag-stripe cards, is that they can be activated at the point-of-sale. Sometimes both technologies are used for one card... there's a considerable advantage of having point-of-sale activation, and then a PIN number for remote access.

So, the most prevalent phonecards in the United States use a "remote memory" (the information is stored on some remote computer). The computer is usually accessed by a toll-free (800) or (888) or (877) number printed on the card. The computer prompts the user to enter their PIN number (also usually printed on the card). This unique PIN number identifies how much time is left on the card, and then prompts the user to enter the area code and phone number they wish to call. The card works from just about every push-button (true-tone) phone in the USA. And when the time runs out ... you're cut-off in mid-word. (Most phone cards allow you to "recharge" or "refresh" or "add more time" to your PIN number through your MasterCard or VISA).

Phonecards are used as promotional give-aways, marketing incentives, charity fundraisers, or just functional "user" utility cards. Companies who have employed them include such prestigious names as IBM, Xerox, New York Life, Sears, Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola, Disney, McDonald's ... and hundreds of others. (The CollectorMagic.com Phone Card Department even sells a phonecard for Microsoft Windows '95! ... and until its expiration, IT always worked fine (even though Windows didn't)! :)

Some phonecards have interactive capabilities that allow you to access the latest message from the Pope, for example, or a specific song from a particular musician. Some will direct your call to a specific service, or maybe to a product or survey or promotion. There are literally thousands of potential functions. We've supplied phonecards that limit the call to a specific phone number (used by parents who may want to give their college kid free phone time to call Mom & Dad, but NOT to call their long distance friends). And we've supplied phonecards that simply do their job (connect your call efficiently and clearly at a cheap domestic flat rate of less than .03/minute, any time of day ... any day of the week).

* Terminology for Remote Memory Phone Cards:

PROOF Card - P: A PROOF card is usually one that has a fully printed obverse (front) but a completely blank reverse (back). There is usually no design nor markings on the reverse. There is rarely any phone time on a PROOF card. If a card has a blank reverse or has the word PROOF printed on it somewhere, we typically list it as a PROOF. PROOF cards are usually created to preview the production quality as the production continues to a final product.

PROTOTYPE Card - PT or M: A PROTOTYPE card is sometimes called a "MODEL" card. These cards are generally a SPECIMEN or PROOF card that never became a live issue card, other than the few that were made. Most of the time there was never a PIN number. These cards were made usually as an advertising idea presented by a marketing agent to the company who either substantially changed the design or outright rejected the promotional idea. PROTOTYPE cards were never accepted as authorized and licensed live cards.

SAMPLE Card - S: A SAMPLE card is usually printed with a complete obverse (front) and a complete reverse (back), except that there is usually no PIN number. There is often just a blank space where the PIN number would normally be printed, but sometimes the word SAMPLE is printed there. If a card has the word SAMPLE printed on it somewhere, we typically list it as a SAMPLE. The term SAMPLE is usually interchangable with the term SPECIMEN. SAMPLE cards are often created as printer's waste, or cards printed without PIN numbers to preview the quality before the PIN number is applied.

SPECIMEN Card - S: A SPECIMEN card is usually printed with a complete obverse (front) and a complete reverse (back), except that there is usually no PIN number. Usually there's just a blank space where the PIN number would normally be printed. Often there are fictitious markings in that same area such as all zero's or 9's. Sometimes the word TEST or SAMPLE or SPECIMEN might be printed there, and sometimes it is even printed on the front . If the word TEST is printed on the card we normally list it as a TEST card. If the word SAMPLE is printed on the card we usually list it as a SAMPLE card. The term SPECIMEN is usually interchangable with the word SAMPLE.

Specimen cards were usually printers overruns, or special extra cards that were ordered without time on them. These were generally intended to be given to the media for marketing the product, or to company insiders, or to their friends, or for the corporate books. The main difference is that no PIN number is on the card. This way, the company only paid for printing, but didn't have to pay for the phone time. It was far less expensive for them to produce. The Specimen cards (often can also be called "Samples") are typically a lot scarcer than the 'real" ones, because they usually printed less than 5% of the regular run, and often far less than that. Rarely would they print more than 100 extras, even if the regular print run was huge.

TEST Card - T: A TEST card is usually printed with a complete front and back. TEST cards are usually live cards designed to test equipment. Service or Maintenance cards are often called TEST cards. If a card has the word TEST printed on it, whether or not there is a PIN number, we will usually list it as a TEST card. Sometimes a TEST card can be listed as a SAMPLE or SPECIMEN card.

USED Card - U or u: A USED phone card is one where the scratch-off coating over the PIN number has been removed. The card may or may not have been used for long distance calling. Sometimes phone cards were placed in envelopes or folders and so there was no need for them to be issued with scratch-off coatings. Once they are removed from the original envelope or folder they would be considered USED.

* Why Do Some People Collect Phone Cards?

Obviously, people collect phone cards for a variety of reasons, but the majority collect them for the same reasons others might collect stamps, coins, and sports trading cards.

The IMAGES pictured on the phonecards are of the most interest. Disney is the #1 collectible in the world by a wide margin. Coca-Cola (Coke) is second and McDonald's is third. There are animals and artwork, birds and flowers and ships and cars and space and sports players and movie stars and comic images, and just about everything else. Phone cards are often collected by topic or theme, but they are usually collected because of their IMAGE.

Also of interest are Corporate names and promotions. Many workers from IBM might Love to own an IBM card. Many AT&T workers may want to own AT&T cards, or were given some at a special event (and those cards may now be worth a Bunch of money if they kept them in good condition). (Hint: We Buy Cards Too!) Or what about the people from CompuServe (cards were made with the CompuServe logo!) So the second most popular form of collecting would be by Company. And AT&T, the Regional Bell Operating Companies, along with the large corporations are far in the lead in this area.

Another interest is for the purpose of "investment". Cards can go up in value (The 1st AT&T card issued in 1992 now sells for over $1000., but cards can also decrease in value (The NYNEX $1. Democratic Convention complimentary card at one time reached $1700.00 but now sells for under $500.00 The Sprint Coca-Cola Monsters of the Gridiron card was once worth $45. and now sells for less than $5.00).

But our advice has always been to collect for enjoyment. Sure ...if you want to buy two of an item so that you might someday trade the extra for a different issue that you want, then that's okay. But be extremely careful if you decide to speculate, because this is a very new hobby within the USA and as such, has a very limited (illiquid) market. The Japanese and European markets are well established (since 1976) and have an enormous collector base. The first USA collectors started about 1990.

* What Determines The Collector's Value of A Phone Card?

1) AGE: Many older cards have disappeared, have been lost, or have not been collected. Even the early AT&T cards (that have only been produced since 1992) have been difficult to locate in any quantity to satisfy early collector's demands. The first U.S. card (IntelExpo) was used from an Exposition phone booth in Washington, DC in 1985 and is listed for about $1000. under the heading of Landis & Gyr. The First AT&T Phone Card is worth a bit more...

2) MINTAGE: The quantity produced is a major factor. First-rate telecommunications companies will sometimes print very limited runs of a card for a variety of legitimate reasons. Many of these cards were unknown until the promotion was over and they are simply not available. It can be expensive to track these down.

3) AVAILABILITY: Some phone companies have cards left over from promotions, and the prudent thing to do would be to destroy the remaining cards. However, some companies who had little concern for the collector, were greedy and sold their leftovers at very cheap prices to under-capitalized dealers with business ethics that allowed them to resell these cards well below the established market value.

Some dealers sold them "by the pound"... even the very same cards where they had been the original distributor (at higher prices)! This practice made the cards very available, and consequently their values dropped substantially. Such was the case with Omnitel, NAT (North American Telecom), STS (Strategic Telecom Systems), HT Technologies, many issues produced by The Score Board, some ACMI and Sprint issues, and some others. Most of these phone companies have gone out-of-business, but the damage to collectors was already firmly in place. It will take considerable time for the market to absorb the extra cards, and for collectors to regain their confidence in collecting.

4) ATTRACTIVENESS & TOPIC: Collector demand is increased by the design on a card. Collectors generally prefer to collect by theme or topic, but their second choice is by phone company. The most internationally collected themes are Disney (#1 by far), Coca-Cola (#2) and McDonalds (#3). Other popular themes include: Space, corporate logos, or really any other subject that strikes your fancy such as Art, Animals, Birds, Cats & Dogs, Santa, Garfield, Presidents, Sea Life, Snoopy, Transportation, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, or Elvis. People collect AT&T or the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOC's), or IBM, etc. Sports-related telecards are a strong market segment. Price increases (and drops) are related to demand and availability.

5) MISCELLANEOUS: Additional determining price factors include the phone carrier, dealers' stock levels, competition, issue price, condition, distribution, trendiness, uniqueness, origin, technology, and whether there is a bull or bear market.

* Who's Promoting Phone Cards & Why We Feel That They Will Be Collectible?

The biggest phone card promoters were the phone companies! Why would AT&T and Ameritech and the other major Regional Bell companies along with LDDS (MCI-Worldcom) & Sprint & GTE and others promote - of all things - Phone Cards ?

Well ... for NYNEX & Bell Atlantic ... they had tens of thousands of pay phones vandalized. But with prepaid phone cards the damage to their equipment dropped dramatically. (There is no longer as much cash - money in the pay phones).

And what about AT&T and WorldCom & Sprint & Qwest? Well ... they have LOTS of inventory to sell (minutes) and they know that phone cards will do a few things including:

1) Establishing a loyal user who will "recharge" their phone cards over & over again,

2) Getting paid in advance for all the phone time they sell (whether it's used or not),

3) In many cases they get to keep the revenue from the UNUSED phone time. (Rarely would people use a phonecard with only 2 minutes of phone time left),

4) Often they will charge connection fees, a monthly decrement "service" charge, they will round up to the next minute or two or three, and they may have a minimum usage per connection, or a short expiration date. If the user gets an answer machine, the windfall profit goes to the phone company who may realize 80 cents for a 30 second call!

5) And then there's the collector market. Collectors buy unused stamps from the post office that are never used for mailing! We give the Postal Service 37 cents for what costs the USPS less than 1 cent to produce!

Well ... frequently the phone company (Southwestern Bell's Stan Musial's series or Ameritech's Frank Thomas cards for example) will issue a "collectible" and KNOW that very few people will use the phone time. They, similar to the post office, can sell a phone card for $10. for which they paid less than 50 cents, and they'll never have to deliver the long distance service.

Well ... WE promote phone cards too, and we offer many different topics/themes and companies for the collector:

We have topics covering everything from Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, to George Washington, Jimi Hendrix, Dick Tracy, Coke, McDonald's, Disney, Microsoft Windows '95, Santa Claus, Gillette, Ryder Trucking, Elvis, Kennedy, stuffed animals, Star Trek, and Wildlife!

There's Red Dog Beer, and Heineken. There's Snoopy and Garfield, and The Pink Panther. There's the beautiful NBC Peacock, and there are automobiles and cats and dogs and NASA space photos. And lots of sports-related telecards with athletes from baseball, football, basketball, soccer, hockey, and other sports pictured!

There are motion vision cards, die-cut cards, JUMBO sized cards, and a card with a cow beaming up toward an alien spaceship... virtually every theme is represented. Click Here To See Our Topic List! And if you CAN'T find the theme you want, then get a license from the Company and produce it yourself (or convince Joe's Pizza down the street to issue their own phone cards as a great advertising and marketing promotion)!

So, in conclusion ... the multi-billion dollar telecommunications industry had the wherewithal, and the motive to support (and push) pre-paid phonecards on the public. (And since phonecards offer the user more privacy, more convenience, and a lower cost per long-distance minute ... it's a win-win situation.) Every user is happy, and the collectors have their enjoyment too!

More recently, promotional phone cards have become less popular because of cellphones. If people have a large number of minutes to use each month on their cellphone plan, then why would they use a promotional phone card? But there's still some demand for companies who wish to put their own logo on the cards, or to design a marketing survey, or provide their employees with free calling time, as a handout for a new product, or as a business card, or to commemorative an event.

* Who Runs The CollectorMagic.com Phone Card Department?

Steve Schwartz is the former manager of the Sears Phone Card Department. He's been in the collectibles industry since 1970, has an extensive background in stamps, coins, precious metals, coin jewelry, and managed a Sears retail department for 18 years.

In November 1977 he became a licensee with Sears, Roebuck & Company. Early in 1994 he saw a new collectibles industry emerging, and decided to focus most of his efforts and studies toward PrePaid Telephone Cards for collectors.

Mr. Schwartz has written articles for Moneycard Collector Magazine (considered to have been the most respected magazine in the USA specializing in the phone card for collectors market).

He is also listed as a contributor to the Hiscocks & Garibaldi Catalog that, until mid-1997, was considered to be the most acclaimed and comprehensive reference book for phonecards of the USA (400 color pages and thousands of listings).

After that, Mr. Schwartz was listed on the Title Page as the Editorial Consultant for the 872 page, full-color Moneycard Collector Reference Catalog issued in September, 1997. This book has become the industry standard. In 1999, he purchased the URL CollectorMagic.com that now boasts the world's most comprehensive listing of USA phone cards for collectors. CollectorMagic.com continues to actively update their reference collection for future catalog purposes.

In 1999 Mr. Schwartz taught a workshop on collectibles for Intele-Card News Magazine. He is well known and respected in this field. He left Sears on January 31, 2000 after 22 years.

In September 2000 and again in July 2001, CollectorMagic.com was one of the sponsors of the North American Collectibles PhoneCard Expo. In 2000 - CollectorMagic.com issued 4 different, limited edition co-logo cards with AT&T (250 printed each). From 2001 - 2006, CollectorMagic.com produced 50 more AT&T promotional "QuarterBear" cards (250-325 issued of each) and printed photo pages for their inventory. Now, however, this website is more current and with far greater content. Click here if you want to see a photo page!

In May 2003 CollectorMagic.com issued another 18 limited edition AT&T promotional cards that included 4 designs with artwork by James "Kingneon" Gucwa. These Gucwa designs included the Coca-Cola logo.

* Our Code of Ethics

To be worthy of the confidence and respect reposed in us by those with whom we have contact, we recognize our obligation to the public and to other dealers as follows:

1) To give advice to our clientele to the best of our ability;

2) To buy and sell at prices commensurate with a reasonable return on our investment, and at prevailing market prices, and with due allowances for our potential risk ;

3) To be truthful in our advertising, and refrain from disseminating statements that would tend to lead to a false or incorrect conclusion with respect to our own goods or services or those of our competitors, and to make no false claims to policies or practices of generally underselling competitors;

4) To assist the legal Authorities to the best of our ability in the prosecution of violators of the law relating to our industry;

5) To refrain from dealing in stolen, counterfeit, or otherwise fraudulent merchandise;

6) To refrain from misleading a buyer as to description, quality, or quantity in the sale of merchandise;

7) To honor and fulfill our own contracts in a timely and professional manner; and

8) To make no known false statements or representations in our relations with customers or competitors, and to cooperate to the best of our ability in all matters that tend to the betterment of our hobby and industry.

* Payment & Shipping Information

PAYMENT TERMS: Full payment is due with your order. We accept MC, VISA, Discover, American Express and other credit/debit cards through our processing agent PayPal, and you do NOT need a PayPal account. We also accept PayPal payments directly (send money to paypal@CollectorMagic.com). Payment by Cash or Postal Money Order usually allows us to ship within 24-48 hours of receipt. Please allow 3 weeks for personal checks or cashiers checks to reach us and clear, and make checks payable to "CollectorMagic".

If ordering less than $60. we add $3. postage as ALL orders are sent insured or certified. WE pay the postage for U.S. delivered packages on orders of $60.or more, except for supplies orders for which we will add $7.00 for shipping within the USA and more for international shipping. Customers outside the USA who order supplies should confirm the shipping price.

International Orders: Orders below $60. shipped Outside the USA will be charged $6.50 USD for shipping. They will NOT be sent insured (at Customer's Risk). For orders of $60. or more Outside the U.S.A. we can usually send your package by Registered Airmail for an extra $18.00 USD. For the quickest delivery, Priority Mail Express (EMS) please add $45.00 USD. Customers outside the USA who order supplies should confirm the shipping price in advance.

All orders should include your name, address, and Telephone number. Florida residents please add 6.5% sales tax. Refund if sold out ... No Credit Slips!

All phone cards are mint, unused (unless described otherwise) and most of the listings are IN STOCK and for sale. Those out-of-stock are designated by an "N/A" (Not Available) in place of the "order" link. NOTE: if you have some of these "N/A" cards for sale - we're interested in buying them! All phone cards on this website are genuine, they are sold as collectibles, and most no longer have usable calling time; almost ALL are expired.

PRICES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE; You may want to call us to confirm prices and availability. We reserve the right to limit quantities. Satisfaction Guaranteed. 14 days no-questions-asked return policy. Phone, FAX, and E-mail orders are given priority over mail orders. We Buy/Sell/Trade. Special Offers may be withdrawn at any time and without notice. Thank You For Shopping at CollectorMagic.com!

 

CollectorMagic.com Phone Card Department
Box 677549 * Orlando, FL 32867 USA * Phone: 407-898-7778

 

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