California Phone Cards

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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California phone cards differ slightly from many other long distance and international prepaid cards. While most prepaid phone cards provide you with access to prepaid long distance units via a national system of service providers, California cards can also provide you with local access to your long distance account. Local access providers help to keep long distance rates low, as they cut down on the expenses associated with providing a toll-free access number.

Toll-free numbers are only "free" to the caller. The charges for the call are reversed to the owner of the number, in this case the service provider winds up paying for the toll free call. While the costs of maintaining a toll free line are not as high as the calls would be otherwise, the toll-free number is still an additional expense for the service provider. Even though this expense may not be apparent immediately to the phone card customer, the provider covers it by calculating it into the overall service charges, This means that a small portion of the long distance rates are actually due to the toll-free number.

Using Local Access Numbers with California Phone Cards

California phone cards feature an option to use a local access number instead of the toll-free one. While a toll free access number is still provided, customers are charged lower rates when they connect to their prepaid access using a local number. California phone cards typically contain a long list of local access numbers, divided by area code. If you plan on using the phone card from a phone that has at least local service enabled, the local access number can help you save units on your card. If you can find an access number printed on the card that supports your area code, the call to the access number will not carry a charge, just like any other local call on a phone with local service. Because the toll-free number isn't used for these calls, the card provider does not incur additional costs from the call, and can then pass the saving along to you.

Although California phone cards include a toll-free access number to be used, it is highly recommended that you use the toll free number as a last resort, since it carries additional charges that can significantly reduce your available prepaid units. If you have to use your card from a payphone, you might be tempted to use the toll-free access number in order to avoid having to put any coins in the phone, in addition to the cost on your card. However, the connection fee that is charged when using the toll-free number is even larger when the call originates from a payphone, and can sometimes take over a dollar from your card before the call is even connected. The connection fee is also non-refundable, meaning, if you have a $5 phone card and use it to make five unanswered calls from a payphone, you can use your entire card without ever getting a chance to even speak to anyone. If you must use your California phone card to make a long distance call from a payphone, it is recommended that you pay the thirty-five cents to make a local call, and connect using one of the local access numbers. From there you can use your card's long distance units to their fullest.


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