Calling the USA from Beijing
There are several options for calling back to the States. If your family is on the East Coast, they’ll be 12 hours behind, which seems to work out fairly well for talking every day. If you have a reliable Internet connection, Skype to Skype calls are free and sound fine -- if both parties have webcams you can video conference for free as well. You can also purchase Skype Out time, allowing you to call phones in the U.S. for 2.4-cents per minute. Unlimited monthly service (to the U.S., China, and other countries) is also available for $5.95 per month with no contract required. Skype’s website is accessible from China, so you can purchase call time once you arrive. If you don’t anticipate having much time at the computer, long distance calling cards (called IP cards in China) can be purchased for far below face value (about 30 CNY for a 100 CNY card). IP calls are deducted as local calls from your China Mobile cell phone. A variety of cards (probably hundreds) are available at newsstands and convenience stores -- be sure to purchase one for calls to the U.S. The two IP cards below have worked well for me, so considering purchasing these if possible.