How To Choose A Long Distance Carrier For Your Family

By: Alyice Edrich

In today’s economy long distance carriers abound by the thousands, but trying to find the right plan for your long distance needs is no easy task. On the surface, long distance rates may seem cheaper, but after adding under-the-limit fees, out-of-area rates, surcharges, taxes, FCC authorized charges, customization fees, and/or unannounced rate increases, your long distance bill can add up fast!

Find The Right Long Distance Plan For You

So how does one choose the right plan? The first step is to evaluate your needs for long distance. Start by researching your phone bills over the last twelve months. Until you know how you’ve used your service in the past, you can’t determine if a new carrier is more cost-efficient. After making a chart showing your call pattern (area called, talked how long, time of day, rate), ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are your long distance calls for pleasure or business?
  • Do you make international, state-to-state, or intrastate long distance calls?
  • Which are do you call the most of?
  • On average, how long do your calls last?
  • When do you make the most calls—time of day/day of week?

Once you’ve evaluated your past performance, you need to consider your plans for the future. Do you foresee an increase or decrease in the number of long distance calls you plan to make in the coming year?

  • What is causing this change?
  • What area do you plan to call more or less?
  • How many minutes do you think these calls will last?
  • How frequent will the calls be made?

Fit A Long Distance Plan Into Your Budget

Now that you have a better picture of your call pattern, you should be able to determine how many minutes you need and when you need them.

But the evaluation doesn’t stop there. You also need to take into account your personal or business budget. How much can you realistically afford to spend each month?

Research Long Distance Carriers

Once you’ve broken down the process and have determined how many minutes you need within what type of budget, it’s time to begin your research. The idea is to pick the best long distance plan based on your current and future needs, but don’t look at the surface. Dig deep. Take the time to make a comparison chart of your own.

When looking for a new carrier, don’t forget to check out the following:

????????? Understand how the calls are billed. Are your calls billed in seconds or minutes?

????????? What does unlimited long distance calling really mean? Read the fine print carefully when picking an unlimited calling plan. Some plans do not include toll calls, in-state calls, or international calls.

????????? Make sure there are no restrictions to get the best long distance rate. If there are restrictions, will those restraints work out for your calling needs? In other words, if your plan says you cannot get the best rate if you call out of state between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., but that’s when you make the most calls, you need to look for another plan.

????????? Carefully evaluate package deals. Sometimes, you can get a cheaper deal by making your own package versus taking a "package" full of unnecessary items simply because it offers the amount of minutes you need.? In other words, if you pick and choose individual services based on your actual needs, you could come out ahead!

????????? Don't shy away from a monthly usage fee. Depending on the company, the long distance rates, plus the monthly usage fee could still cut your over all monthly costs down substantially.

????????? Will you be properly notified of rate increases or will they be made without your ability to choose another carrier before the new rates take effect?

????????? Read the contract’s fine print before you sign on the dotted line.? Know what you are getting so that there are no surprises.

????????? Does the contract require you to stay with the company for a set duration or are you allowed to switch carriers at any time? If you must stay with the company for a duration what is the buy-out fee? In other words, if you must cancel the contract, what must you pay to terminate the contract?

Choose Your Plan

Once you’ve researched the rates of several carriers, it’s time to choose the plan that’s right for you.? Remember, no one knows your calling habits and budget better than you do. Taking the time to do your research could save you a few dollars per month or several hundred dollars per year! And to help you get off on the right foot, check out these long distance plans.

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