Most prepaid phone cards charge several hidden fees that reduce the number of minutes you can actually
use with the calling card. This article explains the various fees typically charged by the phone card
companies when using their prepaid phone cards.
1. Connection fee (also known as Access fee) - This is the most common fee and
one that most calling card customers probably know about already. This fee is charged
every time you place a call, and it usually varies from 5 cents to $1.
The worst thing that can happen with this connection fee is, when the card buyer makes the call and either the answering machine gives a reply or the call is routed to a voice
mailbox, the connection fee is charged even though the customer has not really uttered even a single word.
Of course the best option to avoid this charge is simply to choose a calling
card that has no connection fee! There are many companies that sell such cards
so finding them isn't really a problem.
Before buying any calling card, find out the average rate per minute after
factoring in all the costs involved. This will give you a very clear idea of
which card is the best value.
2. Service fee - This fee is charged on a pro-rata basis with reference to the call
charges, and it is typically in the range of 5 - 15%.
3. Billing increment (also known as Minutes Rounding) - If the company says it
uses 1 minute rounding, a call of 50 seconds will be charged the same as 1 minute and
3 1/2 minutes will be charged the same as 4 minutes. Since the higher the rounding
period the more monetary loss you'll incur, look for a calling card with the
lowest rounding period possible.
4. Maintenance fee - This is a very notorious hidden fee which gets charged
against the phone card either on a bi-weekly or monthly basis.
Before buying any phone card, you should read the fine print to find out if there is a
maintenance fee. If so, the card should be purchased only if you think you'll
use up the card before the specified period.
5. Payphones - There are surcharges on calling cards for all calls made from
payphones, and you'll pay this fee irrespective of whether the call goes through or not.
6. Access number - The billing also depends on whether one calls a local access dial in number or a toll free number.
You will usually be able to make a lot fewer calls with the card if you call a toll free
number to establish the connection. You should always use a local dial-in number
7. Extended talking fee - Some phone card companies charge an extended talking fee if
a call goes beyond a specified duration (usually around 20 minutes). It is best
to limit your calls to a time period less than the specified duration.
8. Expiration date - Most prepaid calling cards have an expiration date, of
which there are two types: the date from which you actually begin using the card and
a general expiration date. After the expiration date you will no longer be able
to use the card even if you have unused minutes remaining!
Shop around for the best deal on calling cards taking into account all of the
fees, both hidden and unhidden.
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