International Long Distance

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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People are making far more international long distance telephone calls than ever before. In the past 20 years, for example, the number of calls per year has jumped from 200 million to 6.5 billion. That's not a typo. It's a 32.5-fold increase.

You might be calling your nephew in Shanghai to wish him happy birthday. Maybe a client in Germany needs to discuss his travel schedule. Whatever the case, all you as a consumer care about with international long distance--or should--is the quality of the call, the ease of making it, and an affordable rate. If you make a lot of calls, a monthly plan makes sense. If you make only a few each year, a prepaid-card or dial-around is probably better for you.

Remember that the rate and the quality will vary dramatically depending on where you're calling from and the country you're calling. What's more, how many numbers you dial will also vary depending on the country, though you'll always start an outgoing international long distance call with 011, followed by the country code and specific number. Your local telephone directory usually includes a comprehensive list of country codes.

Tips for Selecting an International Long Distance Service

By and large, international calls are billed by the minute. You have your basic rate, a calling plan rate, and a dial-around rate. Avoid the basic rate. For example, the BR for a call to France ranges from $1.77 to $2.77 per minute, the plan rate about $0.14 (with a $2.95 monthly fee), and the dial-around about $0.079 (plus a $0.15 connection fee). Points of comparison across companies offering international rates include day/night rates, minimum charge, monthly fees, weekend/day rates, and connection fees.

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