When it comes to long-distance calling, loyalty is a big waste of money. If you’ve been with the same company and the same calling plan for years and years, you’re probably paying too much for your long-distance service.
The general ‘rule of thumb’ of service providers is to increase rates and fees on existing customers while offering lower rates to attract new customers. The field is wide open, with calling cards, cell phone plans, Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, and land-lines all vying for dominance.
Follow these tips to save money on long-distance service:
Go small and save. If you’re fed up with fees and you really want to slash your long-distance bill, switch to a smaller, lower profile company. These companies are too small to own their long-distance networks. Instead, they buy or lease leftover long-distance capacity from the big carriers and re-sell it to customers at discounted rates. How much cheaper are the rates? State-to-state, long-distance calls can cost as little as 3.3 cents per minute. Smaller long-distance companies also charge fewer fees. The call quality is the same. Nothing really changes; you’re just paying a lot less each month.
Check call-rounding policies. With six-second call rounding, each call is rounded up six seconds rather than going to the next minute no matter how many seconds are left. Smaller long-distance companies offering six-second call rounding include Primus, Everdial, Capsule Communications, 1Plus, Unitel and PowerNetGlobal. The more calls you make, the more money you can save with six-second rounding. Additionally, if you make a lot of short phone calls or send out a lot of faxes, you can see substantial savings.
Go Paperless. Some low-cost carriers may charge a fee if you receive a paper bill and you spend less than $15 or $20 on long distance in a month. You can side-step this $1 to $2 billing fee by paying your bills online.
Consider in-state calling rates. If you make a lot of long-distance calls within your state, choose a calling plan with a low in-state rate. Rates on in-state calls tend to be higher than the rates for state-to-state calls, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good deal. Smaller companies tend to charge lower rates for in-state calls. For example, Credo charges 5¢ a minute on top of a monthly fee of $5.95, and it donates proceeds to charity. Verizon offers unlimited plans for all of the U.S. and Canada. These start at $48 per month. If you’re talking for fewer than 500 minutes, though, most cell phone plans are cheaper.
Thoroughly research your options. Don’t be shy about comparison shopping and remember to ask relevant questions pertaining to your plan of choice. Websites such as Telebright.com, Saveonphones.com, and Myrateplan.com will help you compare long-distance offers between companies. With phone service, as with other deals and agreements, be sure to research and read the fine print before you switch companies or sign a contract.