Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Phone Card Fees: Access Numbers

Most consumers know that they use a phone card by dialing an access number which by-passes the local phone company so they can place their call over a low cost network. What many people do not know is there are both local and toll free access numbers. Access numbers vary between phone cards. Some phone cards will have a wide network of local and toll free access numbers and others offer relatively few local access numbers. Most phone card service providers will charge extra for using a toll free access number. The charge for using a toll free access number also varies between phone card service providers so consumers should note this when shopping for a phone card. In some cases, using a toll free access number is free or it only adds a fraction of a cent per-minute to the cost of a call but in other cases it can add 1, 2 or more cents per-minute to the cost of each call so it can be a significant additional cost. It is used by many merchants as a form of revenue or a hidden cost.

The added fee for using a toll free access number is not charged if the caller uses a local access number. Therefore, consumers who plan to make calls from landlines should shop for phone cards with local access numbers in the areas they plan to call from or use cards that charge a very small fee for using the toll free access number. Some callers should avoid using toll free access numbers unless there is no added charge for using them. For example, people using a phone card to make international calls from cell phones should only use local access numbers since they do not pay extra for making long distance calls and can use a local access number in another city or state if none are available in their local area.

The main thing is for consumers to be aware that all phone cards are not created equal and access number cost and availability is an important feature to consider when shopping for a phone card or other prepaid calling product.

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