Long-distance calling cards can be used to make it easier to call your loved ones and friends across the country or around the world. Standard mobile telecommunications providers in North America may not offer competitive long-distance rates, and if calls are frequent, they can quickly become unaffordable.
Calling cards have been around for a long time, but few people realize that they can be used with cell phones. Often found at convenience stores, calling cards can offer significantly better rates than telecommunications service providers. Still, many people choose not to use them, perhaps preferring the convenience of retrieving their cell phone and quickly dialing the number to be immediately connected. Others find calling cards, which may list a variety of local access numbers and rules and fees, too complicated for a simple phone call.
While it’s true that each calling card comes with fine print and the extra steps involved in making a call can be inconvenient, the significant price difference may be worth the hassle. Read on to find out more about how calling cards work and what the associated fees are.
How Long-Distance Calling Cards Work
The vast majority of calling cards operate using an access number. You will need to dial the number listed on the card in order to be connected to the calling card system. Every calling card has a PIN number; you will need to enter the PIN number in order to identify your card. Finally, you will need to enter the 10-digit number of the person you would like to call in order to be connected with them.
The cheapest calling cards tend to have a list of local access numbers (LANs) on the back of the card. Depending on where you live, you will need to dial a different number to connect to the system. The list of cities can vary from card to card, so always make sure your city is listed before you purchase the card. You may have difficulty finding smaller cities and towns on the cards with the lowest rates.
A toll free access number can allow you to use the card anywhere in the United States, and possibly other countries as well. However, keep in mind that there may be an additional per-minute fee when you use the toll-free access number. This makes the card much less advantageous cost-wise. Though there are some cards which don’t charge additional fees when you use the toll-free access line, the majority do. In addition, those that don’t charge for a toll-free access line may charge slightly more, on average, per minute.
Rates and Fees Explained
In addition to the standard per minute rate, calling cards can include other fees. Those that have high fees tend to advertise low rates, so watch for rates that are lower than competitor rates—these companies may simply be trying to attract potential customers, charge them a low rate, and jack up connection and maintenance fees. A connection fee is charged on each and every call that you make. Cards with high connection fees are best suited to longer calls. If you plan on making a lot of short calls, a high connection fee can end up costing you. Similarly, maintenance fees may be required periodically to maintain your account.