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Home Page > Consumer Assistance > Consumer Tips > Tip of the Week

Consumer Tip Sunday, July 29, 2007

Prepaid Calling Cards:
Be An Educated Consumer

Wow!!  One cent per minute for a long distance call!  That`s a pretty good rate, isn`t it?  Well, maybe....

Prepaid calling cards can be a great way to save money on toll calls, especially when you are away from home.  It`s a good idea to keep one with you in case you need to make a toll call and you don`t want to make a collect call, or you want to avoid the higher rates charged by some company-issued cards.

Be careful, though.  The advertised per-minute rate may not tell the whole story of what the call will cost.  Read the fine print before you buy the card and be sure you understand exactly what the calls will cost. 

In the case of this one cent per minute card, there is a 49 cents connection fee for each call you make.  A one minute call will cost 50 cents.   

Another card advertises 3.8 cents per minute but, if you read the fine print, you find that there is a "maintenance fee" of 50 cents per week for every week after the first time you use the card.  There is also a 20 cents "service charge" for every $1 usage.  Further, the card expires if you do not use all of the minutes within six months of the first time you use it.

For more information and tips on buying prepaid calling cards, see the Florida Public Service Commission`s brochure Prepaid Phone Cards (also available in Spanish at Tarjetas de Servicio Telefónico Prepagado ) or the Federal Communications Commission`s Consumer Fact sheet, Pre-paid Phone Cards: What Consumers Should Know .