Making long distance phone calls doesn't have to cost a fortune. There are a variety of options for people who make many long distance calls as well as a variety of price points for service. Determine your average monthly long distance usage, keeping international long distance usage separate from calls within the U.S., to decide which type of service and plan best suits your needs.
Types of Service
Long distance callers have three options for service: a traditional landline, cell phone service or VoIP. Most landline providers offer unlimited local calling and some have plans that include unlimited national long distance for a higher monthly rate. Cell phone providers do not differentiate between local and long distance calls within the U.S. Most providers offer users a specific amount of minutes as well as unlimited night and weekend calling. If the majority of your long distance calling is at night and on the weekends, using a cell phone is your best option as there is no additional cost. VoIP services, such as Skype and Vonage, allow users to make calls through the Internet. Most include unlimited local and national long distance calling. Some VoIP providers even offer unlimited calling to certain additional countries for a flat rate.
You'll want to find the least expensive long distance plan, but it should also meet or exceed your needs so you're not stuck with additional charges each month. Typically, landline long distance plans and per-minute charges are higher than cell phone plans and VoIP service, although international calling on a cell phone plan can be quite pricey. Some VoIP services offer free service for computer-to-computer calls, offer a flat rate for unlimited monthly calling to handsets or cell phones and typically have the lowest international rates. Use your usage information to determine which type of service will be the least expensive option for you.
While there is normally only one landline service available in any given area, the number of cell phone service providers as well as VoIP providers is astounding. Narrow down your choices to reliable providers using Internet research and customer reviews. For cell phone service, you'll want to make sure the areas you frequent all receive call phone service so you're not without service at any point. If you travel frequently, you'll want to make sure the areas you travel to also receive coverage on any plan you're considering, because roaming minutes can be costly. VoIP services are usually available anywhere and you have the ability to take your phone service with you when you travel.
The quality of your phone service may not be something you normally consider, but when considering cell phone or VoIP service, it is an important factor. Some VoIP services offer excellent call quality, while others provide substandard service. If you cannot hear the person you are calling, it makes no sense to pay for the service. Cell phone and landline quality are typically more consistent, but be sure to ask friends and neighbors about call quality if you're considering a provider they use.
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