Do you know why you are charged that extra fee with your long-distance phone services? If yes, do you know how you can avoid paying them? It’s quite simple. Understanding these charges and how they are calculated will help you avoid paying more than you should be for your long distance.

Even if you sign up for Re 1-a-minute-long-distance rate, that’s not exactly how much you’ll really be paying. There are many things that apply when your long-distance charges are computed. Here are a few things to make sure you ask about and understand.

Calls that more out of state.
The long-distance carrier may make that fact obvious, but more often than not this fact is obscured. One must thoroughly go through the associated documents and a specifically find out what long-distance calls within your own state will cost. In-state calls are usually anywhere from 30p/min to Re1/min from most carriers. A few may have better deals, though, so if most of your calls are made to locations within your state, make sure you ask particularly about in-state rates.

Services offered on a monthly basis.
Let us now talk in U.S Dollars: You got a $0.07-per-minute rate and feel pretty good about it. However, there’s a $4.95-per-month service charge that you have to pay to get the rate. Is that a good deal? Well, it may or may not be. The important question is “How many calls do you make?” Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say that you average 150 minutes of long-distance yakking per month. If you are getting a $0.07-per-minute rate with a $4.95 service charge, then you’re actually paying a little over $0.10 per minute:

$.07 * 150 + $4.95 = $15.45 / 150 = 10.45 cents per minute

Of course, the more you talk, the more you save… or, at least the lower your per-minute cost will be. The key is, knowing your calling habits.

Charges per minute
Other aspects that can affect that per-minute fee are things like minimum call length, minimum total long-distance charges, time-of-day rates and billing increments. Let’s see how those work.

Minimum call lengths
Let’s say you get an advertisement for a long-distance service that says you pay $0.10 per minute for calls. You assume (as would most of us) that this means a three-minute call would cost $0.30. But with some carriers, there is a minimum call length in order to get the quoted per-minute rate. You might be told you get $0.10 per minute, but in the fine print, it states that there is a $0.50 minimum call charge. If you get someone’s answering machine and hang up after leaving a 20-second message, you’re still paying $0.50 for the call.

Minimum monthly amounts
You may even have a minimum amount you have to pay in calls each month. For example, some long-distance carriers require a minimum in long-distance calls of anywhere from $20 to $30 per month. You pay this amount even if you don’t make ANY long-distance calls.

Time-of-day rates
Normally, long-distance carriers break up the day into two rate periods. From 7 in the morning until 7 in the evening is considered the “peak” period and gets the highest charged rates. From 7 in the evening until 7 in the morning is considered “off-peak” and gets the lowest charged rates. There may also be different rates for weekends and weekdays. Just because they say $0.07 a minute doesn’t mean you’ll get that rate around the clock. This might vary with long-distance carriers, so make sure you know when the best times to call are.

Call billing increments
Check with your long-distance carrier to see what billing increment they use for calculating the length of your long-distance calls. If it’s a 60-second interval, then a second minute is billed if you talk for 61 seconds. If it’s a 30-second interval, then one minute is charged if you talk for 31 seconds. If it’s a six-second interval, then a full minute is billed only after you’ve talked for 55 seconds. (If you are connected for 30 seconds, you’re only billed for half a minute.) From this, you can see that it is obviously better to look for a smaller increment.



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