Choosing Long Distance Calling Cards - Points to be Careful

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Singapore, Oct 28: Prepaid phone cards charge a lot of hidden fee reducing the number of minutes. This article looks at the various hidden fees charged by the phone card companies. But charges from our company are well advertised and clearly stated.

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Though some of us know that there are some hidden fees charged by phone card companies, not every one knows about all the charges. This article tries to cover most of the aspects in regard to the hidden fees.

1. Connection fee: This is also known as Access Fee. This should be known to most of the calling card customers. This fee is charged whenever one calls to the destination. This usually varies from 5 cents to 1 dollar. 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. This immediately deducts the connection fee even though the customer has not really uttered even a single word.

The best option to get over this problem is to choose a card, which has no connection fee. There are a lot of companies, which sell cards without connection fee. Before buying any Calling card, just find out the average rate per minute after taking into account all the costs. This would definitely give a clear idea about the best option.

2. Service Fee: This is charged on a pro-rata basis with reference to the call charges. This is usually around the levels of 5 - 15%.

3. Billing increment: Also known as Minutes Rounding. If the company says it has 1 minute rounding, a call of 50 seconds will be charged for 1 minute and 200 seconds will be charged at 4 minutes. This 1 minute rounding could be a better option among the rounding types. The higher the rounding period, the more loss to the customer.

4. Maintenance fee: This is a very notorious, hidden fee. This gets charged on the phone card either on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. While buying the phone card itself, the customer should read the fine prints to find if there is a Maintenance fee. If at all there is this fee, this card should be chosen only if the customer is going to exhaust the card before the specified period.

5. Payphones: There are surcharges on the phone cards for the calls made from Payphones. This will be charged on the customer's phone card 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. Usually a caller realizes very less number of minutes if he calls a toll free number. It is advisable calling the local dial-in number as it works out cheaper compared to the toll free number.

7. Long Talking Fee: Some phone card companies charge a long talking fee if the call goes beyond a specified duration. This duration is usually around 20 minutes. It is better to know and reconnect around this period.

8. Expiration date: Most of the pre-paid calling cards have an expiration date. There can be two types of expiration dates. One is the date from which you start using the card and other one is a General expiration date for the card. One cannot use the card even if he has talk time left after any of these dates.

We want people to be aware of these facts when they buy phone cards. The best way to do this is to follow and read all relevant information provided on the web sites of the sellers. No one should hesitate to call their customer service if by mistake they are charged more than what is specified.

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Muthukumar Veluswamy
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