long distance phone call.

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

The holidays are coming and for many that means a frenzy of gift-buying, turkey-stuffing, potato-mashing, and tree-decorating. But not everyone will be lucky enough to have their whole family in Canada this holiday season. Many will be making long distance calls to loved ones overseas – and want to talk for hours on end. The trouble is, it can get expensive talking for as long as you’d want on Christmas Day.

Anyone who has ever tried to save money on international calling can tell you that it’s an uphill battle trying to find a reliable alternative to the major telecommunications companies. Calling cards are rife with hidden fees, provide low quality phone calls, and offer no reliability. Every time you buy a new calling card, you need to read through the fine print yet again and learn how the system works, and where they’re taking money out of your pocket. Not only is it frustrating for consumers, it’s frequently dishonest.

These are some of the common tricks calling card companies use to make more money from your calls.

#1 Expiration Dates – Somehow, calling card companies seem to be under the impression that your minutes can go bad, as if they were eggnog you forgot in the fridge. You paid for your minutes; don’t sign up for a service that tells you they’re no good after a period of time.

#2 Minute Intervals – Rather than charge you for the minutes you actually use when you’re on the phone, many calling card companies round up to 3 or 5 minute intervals, making your phone calls longer than they actually are. Even Canada’s major telecommunications companies used this practice and were sued for it several years ago.

#3 Maintenance Fees – Among all the other tricks up their sleeves, maintenance fees really rankle. If you leave minutes on your card for a week or for a month, many companies charge “just to keep your account open.” That means you can find yourself making a call only to run out of minutes, when you thought you had plenty.

Calling card companies use these tricks to make money while advertising low rates that bring in customers. If you really want to learn how to save on long distance calls, it’s time to give up the calling cards and go online for a better option.

The alternative to calling cards is signing up online for prepaid long distance calling minutes. Instead of relying on a card you buy at the convenience store for international calling minutes, you can go to the same company every time and reliably pay the same rates. That makes it easier to make international calling part of your budget and a predictable expense.

If you’re worried about having to sign a contract, you can get no-contract, no-hidden fee international calling from a company called G3 Telecom. They operate in Canada and offer low-cost international calling on your cell phone or home phone, as well as home phone alternative bundles. They have also developed an app which makes it easier for you to manage your minutes online or from your cell phone. The app from G3 Telecom also makes dialling country codes and PINs redundant – just click and call the way you would for local calls. International calling in Canada doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It’s time to give up calling cards and start saving on long distance calling. Talk all you want with those closest to you this holiday season.