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Flat Rate Phone Cards: Are They Really "Flat Rate"?

Phone cards have boomed in the past decade, and today there are almost more than a hundred or more different providers and operators. Today, almost every type of phone card has been analyzed, and each try to outwit the competition by offering different types of services and promos.

There are different niche phone cards these days, for calling to a specific region, or even more so a specific country. There are also international phone cards, domestic phone cards, prepaid phone cards, post paid phone cards, etc.

Each phone card has its own rates, billing details and charges. Like the early cell phone commercials where discussed being billed on or off peak minutes, roaming and out of area charges, and whole bunch of other terms you've only heard for the first time.

Phone cards levy certain charges, and those could be universal, and applied to calling cards, while other phone cards have added built-in fees. Taxes and per minute charges are both considered universal, with the exception of unlimited domestic cards.

Wholesale rates are the same for all calling card suppliers, with the exception of the major players such as AT&T, MCI, Verizon, etc who buy more bulk airtime and sell these times to smaller companies. Calling cards displaying a higher poster rate per minute generally do not have fees associated with it.

Connection Fees

Connection fees are the most basic fees applied to calling cards. These were the first types of fees of many to come that were applied to a phone card. Connection fees charge a standard rate for every connection made.

Quickly depleting the balance of the card. Cards incurring fees generally have lower rates per minute. It is a way of reeling a customer in by using an artificially low rate. Connection fees have slowly faded away, as more consumers have become aware and slowly transitioned into other types of fees.

Standard Per Minute Charges

Almost all phone cards, with the exception of flat rate domestic phone cards, charge a predetermined rate per minute. Every destination has its own set of rates. In many cases rates may vary from city to city within the same country.

Usually, one can find the standard rate per minute charges on the web site you purchased the card from. If you bought the card in a store, look around for in store posters that might display the rate deck. Or, look on the back of the card and go to the web address labeled on it.

Flat Rates

A flat rate is the advertised rate you can expect to receive 24 hours a day 7 days a week. For purposes of comparison, many traditional long distance carriers have different fees based upon the time of day you place a call. Many business travelers and tourists are moving away from plans that let phone card users share a bucket of minutes per month to flat rate, per-minute plans.

The wisdom behind flat-rate pricing contracts is that you pay for only what you use and you know you will pay a set amount per minute every month. As more and more fiber optic cable replaces the old-economy wires, installing and repairing phone networks gets increasingly inexpensive. In addition to that the relatively negligible cost of internet communication and other wireless forms, and the downward pressure on POTS forces prices to new lows.

This, in turn, has required long distance calling companies to settle on flat rate long distance services to help attract new customers, as well as retain current ones. With the entry of flat rate international calls, callers can call China for five cents a minute, no matter what time of day it is. One could Russia for eight cents a minute, Hong Kong for six,or Taiwan for nine, for example.

Vanessa Arellano Doctor

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