Consumer Caution: Not All Prepaid Calling Cards Are Good Value

A word of caution for consumers – What should they know about calling cards?

You can purchase and use a prepaid phone card for a flat fee, to make long distance telephone calls. Cards usually offer a definite amount of call time to specific destinations. If you have seen advertisements such as “$5 for 1000 minutes to America,” you should immediately know that they are advertisements for calling cards. To use a card, first call an access number which might either be a toll-free or a standard telephone number. You’ll then be asked to provide your PIN listed on the card when you buy it and then dial the telephone number you wish to call.

Purchasing a prepaid phone card – What should you look for?

When reviewing a prepaid card, be sure to understand all the fees, instructions, terms and conditions. Here are a few steps to take.

  • Read the fine print on the back of the card so you are aware of the limitations and other conditions that relate to the way your card should be used.
  • Know the rates that apply to the card and any fees that may be charged to access it. There are some cases when the value of the card will be reduced by ‘disconnect’, ‘post-call’ or ‘hang-up’ fees each time you use the card.
  • Check the card expiration date so you don’t lose any unused minutes.
  • Know whether or not the advertised minutes on the card are only applicable to a single call or if it is applied to multiple calls.
  • Find a toll-free customer care number provided to you by the card company and be sure that you won’t be charged for calling that number.
  • Ask your family and friends to recommend cards they prefer using. A good Business phone card allows you to make cheap international calls to many different countries.

False advertising scams – Be aware

You may have seen ads from calling card providers that claim buyers can easily make calls for hundreds or thousands of minutes to advertised destinations by paying only a few dollars. Some of these claims are untrue. Consumers using some of these specific cards can only make calls for a few minutes due to too many hidden surcharges and fees. The FTC has also been penalizing many such companies for adopting deceptive marketing tactics for selling prepaid calling cards.

Although some really good calling cards can make life easier for those who travel internationally, at the same time there are too many ways some companies can cheat you. So always take into account the points above when buying a card so you don’t become a victim of some shady calling card provider.

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Boris Dzhingarov

Boris Dzhingarov is a business news writer who covers a wide range of issues.