What does "int'l collect" mean, for a (presumed) phone number?

I need some doper help… I’ve traveled to Sweden from the USA. One of my credit cards (citibank) says, on the back: “contact us: 1-800-842-6596 | Int’l collect: 904-954-4321”.

I’ve got a temporary Swedish phone plan for my cell phone, but I can’t figure out what combination of buttons to press to get to that international number. And why would it be “collect”? Anyone know what I’m doing wrong?


I assume it’s an ordinary U.S. number, but with a recording that answers the phone with “If this is a collect call, we accept the charges.”

Your problem will be getting an operator on your end that can deal with that. AT&T USADirect should work, if available, though it’s been over a decade since I used it.

From a cellular network try dialling a “+” before an international number : +19049544321. Like septimus says, though, the real trick will be to make sure you don’t “collect” the charges, which may be much more complicated than simply punching in the number as for a normal call.

The dialing pad on your phone doesn’t have a “+” key. The “+” is shorthand for “dial whatever the international dialing prefix is in the country you are calling from.” It is supposed to be followed by the country code (which for the US, Canada, some of the Caribbean, and a few other places is “1”).

The international dialing prefix for calls placed FROM the United States is 011 for direct-dialed calls or 01 for operator-assisted calls. Look up whatever the appropriate prefix is in the country you are dialing FROM.

A “collect call” is a call for which the party RECEIVING the call pays the charges instead of the party MAKING the call.

Looks like the international dialing prefix in Sweden is 00.

Most cell phones do have a “+” key, either as a separate key, or by long pressing “0”, or some other trick. Storing phone numbers in your phone with the + and country code means you can call your friends back home using your contact list without issues. (Although phones these days may enable that through some sort of magic instead of you having to think about it.)

I assume you actually want to call collect. (Depending on the to-country, from-country, and which overseas-call program you access, the toll may be too cheap to bother trying to call collect.)

ATT&T USADirect should be a Sweden number, not an overseas number — 020-799-111 apparently. (There may be some risk that your Sweden phone plan, knowing AT&T is their competitor, will not allow access to that number.) Once you get a human operator at AT&T USADirect, the rest is easy.

Last time I tried this, punching ‘2’ when the AT&T robot asked me to push ‘2’ for a collect call, the AT&T robot said to the callee “… If you accept the collect charges, say ‘ACCEPT’ … now.” Meanwhile the robot on the other end was saying “If this is collect we accept the charges,” but that robot’s ‘accept’ wasn’t timed to be heard by the AT&T robot. :smack:

I think I got around this with some ‘talk to human operator’ option, but don’t remember well.

Sorry, I didn’t see that septimus already answered. His answer was better than mine.

Yes. + has been available on every cell phone I’ve used since my first one in 1999. It saves you the trouble of having to know the international dialing code in whatever country you’re in (as they vary.)

There may be multiple codes to access an international network. IIRC, 011 (or was it 0288?) once was the U.S. code to call overseas via AT&T but other carriers could be selected via different prefixes. In Thailand prefixing 009 for international call may be cheaper than a 008 prefix, and either is cheaper than ‘+’ which, I think, defaults to the non-discounted plan of your main carrier.

There are even in-country prefixes. Calling Bangkok from upcountry Thailand via pay phone was ridiculously expensive in the 1990’s (far more expensive than calling U.S.A.) unless you knew to first punch a 1234 prefix. (I think the prefix was 1234; I’ve not used a pay-phone here for decades.)

011 is the standard international dialing code in the North American Numbering Plan, regardless of what carrier you are using.

For example, if you want to place a call to London, dial 011 44 20 xxxx xxxx. The call will be carried by your phone’s default carrier (technical term: Primary Interexchange Carrier).

If you want to force the call to be carried by AT&T, dial 1010288 011 44 20 xxxx xxxx. This will not work from most (all?) mobile phones because the industry abandoned trying to force equal access on cellular a long time ago.
If you want to place an operator-assisted international call from the North American Numbering Plan area, replace the “011” with “01”.