Sunday, July 22, 2007

Phone Card Fees: Maintenance Fees

Most people know that phone cards add fees to the advertised rate per-minute so they shop for phone cards with minimal added fees. In most cases this is a good practice but there are some exceptions. Phone card maintenance fees offer a good example. Many phone card companies charge a maintenance fee so they can advertise a low per-minute rate on calls and still earn an acceptable margin. Customers who hold a phone card for a defined period of time will be charged a maintenance fee in addition to the charges paid for each call.

Many consumers feel these cards should be avoided but they can actually offer good value. The key here is that a maintenance fee is assessed after a defined period of time. The clock normally starts ticking when the card is first used and the maintenance fee is charged after a period of time that is typically one week, two weeks or one month. The trick is to not hold the card for the period of time required to trigger a maintenance fee charge. If the card is fully used before the maintenance fee period ends, there is no added charge. Many phone cards that charge a maintenance fee also have relatively low per-minute rates. Therefore, a consumer can purchase such a card in a small denomination, use it before the maintenance fee period ends and get a good deal.

A good example is the Golden Lotus phone card. It charges a weekly maintenance fee of $0.99. However, it also has some of the best rates to many locations and is rated very high for quality by customers. It also comes with features like PIN Free dialing, on-line call history and speed dial that are not standard with most phone cards. Consumers can call India from the USA with the Golden Lotus card for as little as 4.3 cents-per-minute. People who call India know this is a very cheap rate for a prepaid calling product that offers high call quality.

Consumers should not automatically shun phone cards with added fees. They should understand and analyze the fee structure so they can make an informed choice. They should, however, avoid phone card marketers who do not fully disclose all fees in an understandable manner.

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