Making phone calls using the fixed-line telephone for local calls is cheap (0.12 RMB per minute?) but it is expensive for international phone calls. Here is the standard price:
International phone call: 0.48 RMB / 6 seconds
Domestic long distance call: 0.07 RMB / 6 seconds
Between 0:00 – 7:00
International phone call: 0.48 RMB / 6 seconds (for 15 countries, including U.S, Japan, Australia, France…)
Domestic long distance call: 0.04 RMB / 6 seconds
Source: Shanghai Telecom
I am not sure how the foreign carrier’s’ calling cards work in China, such as AT&T, MCI cards. In China, there are many IP cards that can save money. For example, Unicom 17910 IP Card (0.30 RMB/minute DDD or 2.40 RMB/minute IDD to U.S. and Canada (3.60 RMB/minute IDD to other countires), Unicom 193, China Mobile 17950 IP Cards… The best thing with these cards is, if you buy it online, you can easily get 50 RMB of value with less than 20 RMB. The website I use everyday is cnard.com. I can use my credit card to pay there and they send me the card number and the password. I can directly use the card at the fixed-line telephone in my home. No card deliver required. It is really cool.
Buy the Card?
Skype is a much better alternative to fixed-line. It offers around 0.20 RMB/minute to telephone everywhere around the world. It is even cheaper than the mobile phone in China (0.40 RMB/minute). Just use the SkypeOut feature.