Telephone Card Collectors: Questions Answered

Got a burning question about a telephone card? I welcome people to contact me to ask questions about Phonecards that they have.

While my knowledge is limited to UK issues e.g. British Telecom (BT), New World and Mercury. I may know of another collector who can help with an answer.

I'll publish a selection of the questions I receive, along with the answers below.

Do you have telephone cards that you'd like to sell? As a collector, I'm always keen to see which card or cards you may have. If you have Phonecards that you'd like to sell or giveaway, please click here.


Questions

Q. How do you establish a price for cards you are interested in? I have a very large collection of mint BT phone cards all in their folders plus an extensive range of single cards again all mint. I am prepared to sell but interested in how you strike a price?

Q. I'm looking to sell a five card set of Traci Lords telephone cards, can you let me know what their value is? I have heard they are kind of rare.

Q. I have seven Virgin Atlantic BT Phonecards unused cards that were in sealed plastic wallets/sleeves. Hence, you couldn't see the back of them. I like the feel of my cards so I cut them out, careful to not damage the actual Phonecards. I don't know if it was the right thing to do but I can feel them now and I'm not worried about diminishing the value. I just wondered if they would be more appreciated by collectors, sealed?

Q. I'm a volunteer working for the Cricket Memorabilia Society. I'm one of a small group of people who catalogue material for the Society's auction. We've recently received a Stanley Gibbons album marked 'Telephone Cards' which contains 101 cards, some of which are duplicates and a small number are not cricket related.

Q. I have two Tom and Jerry Phonecards (modern chip style) but one of them seems to have a smaller sized print as in the green arrow is smaller (next to the chip) then the other. Having looked at all the other cards that are similar, the green arrow is bigger? Is this rare/misprinted?

Q. Some years ago I bought a Dan Dare annual inside was A4 plastic folder wiith printed A4 card. Just looked at again and realised it a Mint Dan Dare Phone card with its presentation card. Please would any of your members be intrested and has it any value?

Q. Golden Eye phone cards not opened and mint condition. Advertising PVC Holder and original poster. Could you give me some idea of the value of the complete set and advertising board and poster?

Q. I might have a phone card that you might be interested in? It's a BT Kellogg's phone card, 20 units, never been used and still in its sealed package. I've had the card since I was a kid and its well been looked after. Do you think I'll get a good price? What do you think my best option is?

Q. I'm asking a question on behalf of someone else... so I hope I don't sound too stupid. But the gold chip payphone cards (I live in New Zealand and talking about the New Zealand telecom cards) there is a debate about there being real gold on the gold chips... Is that true? Thank you.

Q. I was a BT employee and managed to buy many of the phone card collections that BT employees had access to. Is there a catalogue that would help me understand how much they could be worth?

Q. I have a pack of telephone cards here that were given to staff and customers of Wadsworth Brewery, £2 original value and I was wondering if you could give me some advice on there worth now? They're still all sealed in the packet, 8 of them.

Q. I spent a lot of time and money collecting and buying cards from 1992 -1998/2000. I have loads of new mint ones and used, gift sets etc... I recall being part of BT's official club. I wouldn't sell them at rock bottom prices but what's your view, keep them and hope for the best in 20/30 years?

Q. I have a 1988 Valentine's Day 40 Unit phone card, is it worth anything please?

Q. Could you please tell me if these are worth anything and if so would you be interested? (images below)

Q. I so enjoyed collecting telephone cards. But now that I'm old and downsizing, I am looking to sell my collection. Perhaps you can help me? The cards I've collected are almost all from Bell Canada.


Answers

Q. How do you establish a price for cards you are interested in? I have a very large collection of mint BT phone cards all in their folders plus an extensive range of single cards again all mint. I am prepared to sell but interested in how you strike a price?

A.1. A seller with telephone cards will email me photos or scans of the cards they have to sell.
2. If I’m interested in the cards, I will highlight which ones I’m interested in buying.
3. I will also ask the seller if they have a price in mind?
4. If the seller doesn’t want to suggest a price, I use current market valuations to make an offer.
5. We agree or disagree on the price.

It’s worth noting that BT Phonecards have lost 90-95% off their catalogued highs in the mid 1990s. Read more about current values.

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Q. I'm looking to sell a five card set of Traci Lords telephone cards, can you let me know what their value is? I have heard they are kind of rare.

A. I have absolutely no knowledge or have ever heard of LIVECOM. Therefore I don't know anything about the telephone cards you have.

I would recommend that you visit the website Colnet, they have a section covering the worlds telephone cards.

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Q. I have seven Virgin Atlantic BT Phonecards unused cards that were in sealed plastic wallets/sleeves. Hence, you couldn't see the back of them. I like the feel of my cards so I cut them out, careful to not damage the actual Phonecards. I don't know if it was the right thing to do but I can feel them now and I'm not worried about diminishing the value. I just wondered if they would be more appreciated by collectors, sealed?

A. I would say on a whole sealed/wrapped BT Phonecards are more highly sought, prized and priced by collectors, than unwrapped telephone cards. A sealed card demonstrates to the collector that the card within is in perfect mint condition.

However, in the case of the Virgin Atlantic BT Phonecards this factor won't really play onto the price. Why? The number of cards produced. In total 612,000 20 unit Virgin Atlantic BT Phonecards were produced encompassing the seven designs, meaning that the values are relatively low for both wrapped and unwrapped cards.

With a rarer card, the wrapped and unwrapped factor would have a much bigger influence on the price.

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Q. I'm a volunteer working for the Cricket Memorabilia Society. I'm one of a small group of people who catalogue material for the Society's auction. We've recently received a Stanley Gibbons album marked 'Telephone Cards' which contains 101 cards, some of which are duplicates and a small number are not cricket related.

In addition to BT cards, there are cards from Bell Cablemania, Telecom Eireann, Telecom New Zealand, Telstra Australia, Caribbean phonecards, Lanka Pay Phones, Interglobe, Teleca - Japanese, Tel IPS (Pakistan) and some which the CMS produced Gooch and Bradman, both signed, and a Jack Hobbs card.

In many ways selling this as a complete album is more attractive than splitting it up, but its value - and, indeed, whether the individual cards have a decent value - is something which none of my colleagues have any idea about. In order to help, would you need to see the cards, or would a complete list suffice? I get the impression that none of them have been used.

Any help would be much appreciated and would merit a mention in our auction catalogue.

A. These days the number of people collecting telephone cards and indeed the values of Phonecards have dropped dramatically in the past 10-15 years. To read more about the decline in collector numbers and prices please click here.

In terms of the collection that you have, I think it best to sell as a complete collection. What I am finding is it's not Phonecard collectors that are paying a premium and pushing prices up, but rather collectors of associated themes featured on the Phonecards e.g. Star Wars printed on the face of Phonecards.

I think a collector of cricket memorabilia would pay more than a collector or telephone cards in the current market.

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Q. I have been going through all the cards in my collection and I found something unusual so wondered if you can assist in your knowledge?

I have two Tom and Jerry Phonecards (modern chip style) but one of them seems to have a smaller sized print as in the green arrow is smaller (next to the chip) then the other. Having looked at all the other cards that are similar, the green arrow is bigger?

Is this rare/misprinted?

The cards are pictured right, click the image for a larger view.

A. Good spot and keen collectors eye!

I can tell you that it's not a misprint or (rare) error. The difference comes down to the company producing the Tom and Jerry Phonecards for BT.

The card pictured on top was produced by GPT in their factory, while the card pictured beneath was produced by Schlumberger in their factory.

If you look at the two cards you'll see the two embedded micro chips are very different. The chips are unique to the relevant chip card manufacturer. This would also account for why the arrow is a slightly smaller on the Schlumberger manufactured card.

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Q. Some years ago I bought a Dan Dare annual inside was A4 plastic folder wiith printed A4 card. Just looked at again and realised it a Mint Dan Dare Phone card with its presentation card. Please would any of your members be intrested and has it any value?

A. According to my catalogue the card had a value of £12 in 2001- some 1,000 cards were produced. On a whole Phoencard values have dropped by 90%, making the card worth around £1.20.

However, that is the value in the Phonecard collectors market, among a Dan Dare collector the card may achieve a higher price.

The only bench mark I can think of is to compare it to a Dandy BT Phonecard which was valued at £10 and of which 1,000 cards were also produced. Searching eBay I found one sold for £5.00.

Reply to answer: Thank you so much for your very fast reply and detail email most interesting must have taken you some time. I think your advice is right the Dan Dare collectors is the way to goat a later date. The Dan Dare book it came with I sold on Ebay 2 years ago for £38.00 to a collector in Italy with lesser bids from Germany of all the strange places. I will hold on to it for a while. Who knows collecting has its up and downs.

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Q. Golden Eye phone cards not opened and mint condition. Advertising PVC Holder and original poster. Could you give me some idea of the value of the complete set and advertising board and poster? View the image here

A. The advertising board: £8-£12, The x6 James Bond BT Phonecards: £3-£6, Total: £11-£18.

Reply to answer: The phone cards are still in their sealed covers not used are they still only with face value and a complete set?

Additional Answer. BT Phonecards have lost SO MUCH value in recent years, please see the following link, many are worth far less than their face value. The face value e.g. £2.00 is now worth nothing as the cards cannot be used, effectively they are just pieces of plastic that could once be used in a payphone to make a call.

I've personally seen sets of mint BT James Bond cards sell for 28p per card, as you will soon see too…

Here's an auction for all six cards which failed to sell on eBay (please note: link will expire after 3 months after the auction finished).

However, this one did sell:

The problem is, some 750,000 James Bond cards were produced and these days (no-one or) very few people collect them.

Sorry it's not more positive news.

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Q. I might have a phone card that you might be interested in? It's a BT Kellogg's phone card, 20 units, never been used and still in its sealed package. I've had the card since I was a kid and its well been looked after. Do you think I'll get a good price? What do you think my best option is?

A. Besides the green 'greenie' common definitive phonecards that BT produced, the Kellogg's Cornflakes BT Phonecard was produced in an equally high number – more than 3million!

So this card is very common, coupled with that collector numbers have fallen in recent years, there is very little interest in this particular BT telephone card.

These days, the card typically sells (on a good day) for 99p on eBay, which is less than half the cards face value of £2.

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Q. I'm asking a question on behalf of someone else... so I hope I don't sound too stupid. But the gold chip payphone cards (I live in New Zealand and talking about the New Zealand telecom cards) there is a debate about there being real gold on the gold chips... Is that true? Thank you.

A. I'm afraid i don't know anything about New Zealand issued telephone cards. So my answer is I don't know, but I very much doubt it.

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Q. I was a BT employee and managed to buy many of the phone card collections that BT employees had access to. Is there a catalogue that would help me understand how much they could be worth?

A. Yes there are a couple of catalogues that you could buy:

World Phonecard Catalogue UK 1 covers BT (Landis & Gyr) optical Phonecards
World Phonecard Catalogue UK 2 covers the later BT chip Phonecards

UK 1 (pictured right) was printed in 2001, while UK 2 was printed in 2006. However, the prices contained within are no longer current. These days there are so few collectors that demand and prices have both dramatically fallen.

The catalogues are however extremely useful and will help you identify which cards are common and which ones are rare? Rare or rarer cards do still command a premium, be it a reduced premium from the prices paid in the mid to late 1990s at the height of the hobby. For more on prices today click here.

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Q. I have a pack of telephone cards here that were given to staff and customers of Wadsworth Brewery, £2 original value and I was wondering if you could give me some advice on there worth now? They're still all sealed in the packet, 8 of them.

A. The BT Phonecard you have, like many privately commissioned cards was also available to collectors via British Telecom's telephone card collectors club - BT Phonecard Direct.

Some 6,500 6X Wadworth cards were produced, with 1,000 being sold through BT's club to collectors at a price of £2.70 (70p over face value). As a result of the card being so widely available to collectors, this has an impact on the current valuation. I'd say, based on the availability and quantity, that the cards were now worth around £1 each, and indeed on 22nd June 2014 a mint card sold for 99p on eBay.

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Q. I spent a lot of time and money collecting and buying cards from 1992 -1998/2000. I have loads of new mint ones and used, gift sets etc... I recall being part of BT's official club. I wouldn't sell them at rock bottom prices but what's your view, keep them and hope for the best in 20/30 years?

A. I've been collecting again since 2012 and I can say that a) prices have fallen anything up to 90-95% off the last catalogue price and b) prices continue to fall. So right now it's not the time to sell - it's a buyers market!

As for the future, who knows? The biggest problem I can see for demand and prices to increase is that there is no hook to get new (young) people to collect, as unlike stamps, new Phonecards aren't being issued. People I speak to in their early twenties say "what's a phonecard?". However, some 100,000 people used to collect in the UK, so if a number of these take up collecting again then prices will I'm sure go up?

Right now though it's a seemingly endless supply of cards being offered on eBay further pushing the price down. A good example of this is BTA049: Rosslyn Moto Co. a previously rare card and with a catalogue price in 2001 £100, recently didn't even sell for £4.99!

One final thing I will say is, the cards that have taken the biggest hit (on price) are public issued cards and cards issued through BT's Collectors Club, as these cards have been readily available on the collectors market and a large surplus now exists. Private issued cards and those not readily available to collectors, hold and command the higher prices.

We will see what the future holds… hopefully more collectors and higher prices, but then again for me, it's great to buy cards I could only once dream of getting.

For more information about prices see: BT Phonecards current prices.

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Q. I have a 1988 Valentine's Day 40 Unit phone card, is it worth anything please?

A. Some 250,000 1988 St Valentine's Day BT Phonecards were produced. These days with so few collectors and so many cards, prices have dropped from a catalogue list price in 2001 of £12.00, to an average selling/auction price these days on eBay of just 75p. Many, many cards these days go unsold on eBay and in 2009 an article in the Guardian named BT Phonecards as one of the five things you should never have collected see: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2009/oct/10/collections-lost-value

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Q. Could you please tell me if these are worth anything and if so would you be interested? Sorry about the quality of pictures. They come in a clear plastic wallet with the instructions. Thank you for your time.

A. They look to me like very common cards. Do you happen to know if they have been used? Plus on the reverse what please are the control numbers? You'll find the control number on the black reverse in the corner, by turning the card into the light you'll be able to read it.

Reply to answer: Thank you for taking the time to reply. I can't tell for sure but one is definitely been half used. And looks like its skipped a few units. As the lines have a gap part way through the part that's been used. The 40 units card I can't tell if its been used or not. The numbers you asked for are as follows. The 100 unit is: 610N77671. And the 40 unit is: 410F27525). Thank you for your time. Out of curiosity what do they stand for?

Additional Answer. Thanks for confirming the control numbers. Taking each card in turn.

40 unit Phonecard - some 7,368,000 were produced, so this card really isn't rare.

410F27525 - The control number, the first digit is the year of manufacture 4 = 1984, and the second and third digits are the month 10 = October, the remaining digits are the batch 'F batch' and individual card number. To read more about telephone card control numbers click here.

100 unit Phonecard - again some 2,423,000 were produced.

The control number says the card was produced in October 1986. 610N77671.

As for a value, we're really talking pennies I'm afraid.

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Q. I so enjoyed collecting telephone cards. But now that I'm old and downsizing, I am looking to sell my collection. Perhaps you can help me? The cards I've collected are almost all from Bell Canada. I have 27 of them. Most have been used up, some are still 'full'. They are from both English speaking and French speaking Canada. Some are advertising (i.e. VW), many are of events (i.e. Molson Indy, Toronto Film Festival).

A. As a collector of British Telecom (BT) Phonecards and other UK issues, my interest and knowledge in overseas cards e.g. Bell Canada is very limited. So I can't say what they may or may not be worth.

Reply to answer: Thank you very much for writing to me. I hope you'll keep my email address around in case you get other Canadians writing to you about their Bell Telephone card collections.

Collecting Canadian telephone cards? Interested in seeing which 27 cards the collector above has? Please contact me and I'll put you in touch.

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Last updated: 3rd August 2017

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