Phone Cards - Reading the Fine Print


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Although traditional cell phone plans offer the most economical calling for most cell phone users based on their lower per minute cost, there are certainly other options. Prepaid phone cards are one of the alternatives. By eliminating any deposits, credit checks, commitments, and monthly fees, prepaid cards can be a good choice for international travelers, infrequent users, and those with poor or no credit history.

Anyone purchasing a phone card might also want to be aware of some of their quirkier characteristics as well. To understand charges and how things will be billed, buyers need to be sure to read the fine print on the card and its packaging. Within this text should be an explanation of a few of the little extras and surprises that can crop up unexpectedly if buyers don't study these details regarding a prospective prepaid phone card.

What does a minute cost?

Certainly the first question is the per minute cost of calling. Rates tend to be higher outside of traditional cell phone plans. This is the cost of avoiding commitments, deposits, monthly fees, and credit checks.

Is a minute really a minute?

Obviously, the per minute rate is a primary consideration just as with any cell phone plan. But knowing how a minute is billed is important also. Some cards will round billing out in 2 or 3 minute increments; thus, although a given call might only last 1 minute, that very call may consume 3 minutes of calling time. Without being aware of the strange math behind the billing of a particular phone card, a user would be unable to solve the mystery of evaporating talk time.

Connection fees, maintenance fees, and taxes oh my!

Reading further, users may discover that not only is there the per minute rate to consider but also a handy connection fee which is charged every time they hook up with someone. The amount varies from card to card, but can be significant. Other cards tack on a maintenance fee; these are often added on monthly throughout the active life of the card. The description on the card may also explain any applicable tax or additional fees that may come up.

Your time is up!

One final thing to be aware of is the time limit on using the minutes on a card. Many cards have a set period of time in which minutes are to be used; after this point in time the minutes are forfeited. Being aware of these time limits can assure users don't find themselves without calling time when they least expect it.

Prepaid phone cards are certainly a convenience and an appropriate choice in a number of situations. However, cell phone users need to become acquainted with the details outlined on the card and packaging to assure they understanding the true cost of using them.

Christine Peppler is the webmaster of , a site dedicated to assisting consumers in evaluating and finding products and services which will best meet their needs. Learn more about cell phone plans by visiting her site.


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