Prepaid Phone Cards

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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It's amazing that civilization took as long as it did to stumble upon the concept of prepaid phone cards. While many Americans were continuing to pay for expensive long distance calling service, their European counterparts had already become old hands at the prepaid game. The essence is, you walk into a convenience store or shop, purchase a set number of minutes on your card, then use that card from anywhere in the country to call domestically or abroad. Such a simple concept.

The problem is, once your prepaid minutes expire you have to run out and buy more, which can be a real hassle if you're in the middle of an important call. Also, if you're dialing internationally, your rates can fluctuate wildly depending on your destination. This makes it even harder to keep track of your available minutes. To add insult to injury, an operator busts through the line periodically to tell you what you already know--you're running out of minutes.

Other Details About Prepaid Phone Cards

Most of the major long distance carriers offer prepaid phone cards of their own. Typically, you must buy these from a licensed retailer, which can be another headache if there's none nearby. On the other hand, a few carriers have begun offering phone cards over the Web, which is an improvement despite the fact that you have to wait to receive your PIN number separately.

As technology continues its inexorable march forward, there are better and better products from which to choose. Some prepaid cards automatically identify your phone number and obviate the need for PINs altogether. Lest you should be concerned about privacy and safety, know that you have to set up and customize your account ahead of time, which makes your plan inaccessible to callers who are excluded from it.

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