How to make sure you’re getting the most minutes out of your phone card

August 18th, 2008

"I never seem to get the number of minutes I think I should get with my phone card. Why is this?"

Before you purchase a phone card from ZapTel or anywhere else, always make sure to read all the specifications for the card. Some cards have flat rates per minute and bill in full minutes or seconds, but others may have fees that will affect the total number of minutes you’ll receive.

Here’s a little checklist to run through to make sure you know exactly how your phone card will work:

Are there any connection fees?

Some phone cards will charge a fee per connection. It helps the carrier off-set the cost of the call and be able to offer you the lowest possible rate per minute. If you’re a long talker, a connection fee shouldn’t be too big of a deal. You’re still likely to get more minutes with the connection fee than with a flat rate card. However, if you’re not a long talker, you’ll want to stay away from cards with connection fees. Many times, the connection fee may take more minutes off than what you actually use.


Are there any surcharges per call?

Surcharges are another way for the phone card carriers to off-set the cost of calls. This is where they take off any taxes that they’ll have to pay that are associated with your calls. Depending on the percentage or cost per call, surcharges aren’t such a bad thing for a long or short talker. It usually is just a few more cents that are taken off the balance of the card. But be careful - higher surcharges aren’t as good for short talkers. A 5-10% surcharge isn’t too much for a short talker, but if it goes beyond that, I would look at a flat rate card for your calling need.


What are the billing increments?

Most phone cards will bill in full minute increments, but there are a few that will round in seconds. You always want to know how your calls will round so you know how many minutes will be deducted with each call. Some cards will bill in 3 minute increments which means your call will be rounded up to the next 3 minute interval. For example, if you talk for 6 minutes with a 3 minute rounding card, you’ll get billed for 6 minutes. If you talk for 7 minutes, though, the call will be rounded up to 9 minutes. This, too, isn’t such a bad thing for long talkers, but a couple minutes of rounding can make a world of difference for someone who uses just a few minutes at a time.


Are you calling from a payphone?

In the U.S., the FCC mandates a payphone surcharge which is deducted from a phone card per call. This can vary from $0.65 to $1.15 per call in some cases. I’ve had customers tell me that cards they’ve purchased in stores have been even higher than this. If you’re using a payphone and you’re noticing that your minutes are rapidly reducing, this surcharge could be the reason why. A payphone surcharge is unavoidable in the U.S. so no matter what phone card you use, something will be deducted for it. If you only have access to a payphone, take note of what will be deducted per call.


Are you using a toll free or local access number?

Some phone cards have both toll free and local access numbers. On most of these cards, local access numbers will save about a penny per minute since the carrier does not have to pay the cost for the toll free number being used. If you’re using the toll free access number, try using the local access number. It may save you some money. Please note that the local access numbers are not toll free, and if you don’t have an unlimited local or nationwide calling plan, your phone provider may charge you a per minute fee to connect to the local access number.


ZapTel carries both flat-rate and fee cards. Depending on your overall calling need, one type of calling card may be better than another. Remember, cards with fees are better for long talkers who call frequently throughout a week and flat rate cards are better for short talkers or for those who don’t make that many phone calls per week.


ZapTel Calling Cards Available with Additional Fees


Phone Card Coupon for Week of August 18th

Through August 24th, receive 5% off on the purchase or a recharge of the cards listed above. Use the following code to receive the discount:


Enter the coupon code on the Review Your Order page, and be sure to click the "Add Coupon Code" button on the page to apply the discount. Offer expires at Midnight Central Time on August 24, 2008.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 18th, 2008 at 8:10 am and is filed under Phone Card Tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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