Monday, January 31, 2005

Endless Calling Cards

Pre-paid long distance calling cards have been all the rage. They're easy to get. You can find them in displays at the grocery store or gas station. They seem cheap, too. You buy a bundle of minutes for $5 or $20. The colorful printing on the front advertises rates like 1.9 cents a minute or 2.9, etc. Oh, if it were only so.

Now read the fine print. The special low rate is to one country only, calls to others are no bargain. There is a fee every time you use the card. Generally, once you start using a prepaid card, you have a limited time to use all the minutes. Otherwise weekly or monthly fees will reduce your available minutes until they are gone completely. There you are on a business trip only to find that your card is deceased. To add insult to injury, you've paid 10 cents, 25 cents or even a dollar a minute for the time you've actually talked with your "cheap" prepaid card.

A newer and less well-known option is the independent billable calling card. These usually offer better rates than you'll get by using a card supplied by your long distance company, especially for overseas calls. Your credit card is billed monthly for any calls you make, but only in months when you make calls. There aren't any surcharges per call and no minutes to run out and leave you stranded. You'll actually be getting decent per minute rates and as many as you want.

The CogniCall billable calling card has no monthly fee and no activation charge. It's a virtual card. You don't get a piece of plastic, just the toll free number to dial, your account code and PIN number. Seems like anyone who travels, especially overseas, should have these numbers tucked in their wallet. It works from over 50 countries at darn good per minute rates. Other good choices are the AccuGlobe, AccuLinQ and AccuChat cards. These are also billable and offer actual physical cards.

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