Phone and Phone Card

Block telemartketing call

register your landline or cellphone at


IMPORTANT: if you use cellphone, ask your service provider to turn off international call feature. Otherwise you may make mistakes to call China directly and pay $$$$$$

Columbia area code is 803. USC phone numbers are 777-xxxx.
USC internal call 7xxxx. To call from USC to outside, dial 9 first.

Landline is usually from Bell South, the cheapest plan is between $20 and $30 a month. Ask your landlord how to obtain it.

For cellphone, major companies here are AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile.

prepaid phone without contract

Anyone can buy, No SSN needed, GREAT for new students.

Prepaid plan, so called Chong Zhi, may suit casual or temporary user's need. You can get a cheap phone and prepaid card in many retail stores. The cloest on-campus store would be CVS on the Assembly street. prepaid phone has no contract, but you still need to choose a plan which fit your need. Check various provider's website for details.

If you think you use phone a lot, you can buy a Tmobile prepaid phone at the CVS store and choose the $50 per month unlimited plan, you can talk as long as you want for all US domestic calls.

"打美国国内一般prepaid的手机都是这样的吧, 只要拨了开始嘟嘟嘟就算分钟数, 客户服务自然算了,至少我用的prepaid就是这样的。一分钟14美分贵了一点,可以试试我用的这个,这里面最便宜的是100刀打1500分钟,有效期一年,平均下来7分钱一分钟,如果工作日白天电话较多,可以试试这个,但是前提是要有一个verizon的prepaid的手机。另外这个公司还是中国人创业的,就当支持同胞兄弟。


phone with contract

SSN needed if you sign a contract, or you can join others' plan.

Many people use a family plan to share minutes, so called Bao Yue. You can join a plan to save money. Alternatively, after you get Social Security Number (SSN), you can obtain a new plan yourself. One family plan can have 5 or 6 phones. A plan will have a contract period—usually 1-2 years. If you stop using the phone before the contract ends, there will be a large penalty fine.

Cheap phones are free when you join a plan, you can even get a fancy one free when you obtain a new plan. You can buy locally or online. Look for discounts and special promotions. China and US use different frequencies. You can't use your phone from China here unless it's a quadband, or triband world phone - that has frequencies 900, 1800, and 1900 MHz available. The frequency used here is 1900, while in China the abailable bands are 900 and 1800 MHz.
SIM card phone (ATT) and CDMA phone (Verizon) are not exchangable. Phones from different companies are not compatible either, unless they are unlocked. Prepaid and monthly plan phones from same company are usually exchangable without unlocking.
Cell phone companies give you a locked phone, but there are other companies that can unlock it for you, for a fee of 15-30 USD. It is worth doing only if you have a high-end phone, PDA phone etc. Unlocking is only useful for GSM phones, with SIM cards - that is, Cingular-AT&T, or SunCom, or T-Mobile (joined with AT&T, i believe).
The cell phone company can also unlock your phone for you, free, but usually they "act stupid", pretend not to know what unlocking is, in order to sell you an "international roaming" package. Do not buy that, calls are extremely expensive, like USD 1 or 2/min.

Ask the cellphone company or go to their website to block your phone's international calling feature. You don't want to pay a fat phone bill when you make that mistake.

Phone card

To call China, use a phone card or some other internet phone like skype.

general info
a lot places to buy online. when price is so cheap, I think quality is important, especially at festival time.
Toll free access and local access number rate are differnt. The later is much cheaper. but Columbia has local access # for very few phone card.
So you can use a cellphone to call other states local access number to save, becasue cellphone plan usually don't charge addtional on long distance call.

Use phone card to dial china in this way, call access number and follow instruction then 011-86-10(aread code without 0 in front)-1234567(local number) or 011-86-13xxxxxxxx(cell number).

A trick
hate to puch the lenghy phone card #?
some cards let you bind it to a fixed phone number. Another track is to use cellphone to put phone card acess #, card #, your home number in china in one contact with pause code "p" (push * key a couple times to get "p"), then you can one click to dial home directly. It should looks like 803777777p2p123456789pp01186+china number

without Columbia local access #
"love" card at, local rate about 1.32c, toll free 3.7c

another choice, similar price as above

with Columbia local access #, local rate 1.7/1.8 china, 2.0/2.1 china mobile

"打国际长途,可以试试这个网站,里面很多电话卡,随便你挑, 里面都是1-2美分一分钟,可能就打给巴基斯坦兄弟贵一点。

打我天朝国我用的Simple Asia USA, 10块钱17小时,每天说半个小时嘴巴说肿一个月都打不完,可能别人还有更加便宜的,但是这个足够便宜了。"

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