Long Distance Plans

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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The great advantage to the break-up of the AT&T monopoly in 1984 is that you can shop for long distance plans until you find exactly what suits. Your first step is to analyze what kind of calls you make. Six questions should do the trick.

Your answers will be your guidelines as you compare long distance plans. Where do you call--in state, out of state, same time zone, another time zone? Who do you call--clients, friends, or relatives? Do you make your calls during prime time? When you use the phone, is it for pleasure, business, or necessity? How long do you talk? How often do you call?

If you do a lot of long distance calling, a monthly plan is probably the best option. Each of the major providers offers at least two types of long distance plans. One is bundled with local service, usually offers unlimited calling within the contiguous 48 states, and works about to about $20 a month. The other is the stand-alone. Here is where you'll have a number of different options that usually involve per-minute rates and base monthly charges.

Alternatives to Long Distance Plans

If your calling pattern is irregular or your use is light, you might want to consider a pre-paid card. Rates are higher, of course. What you want to check for is that there are no minimum charges and no monthly surcharges. Another option is a dial-around plan. What to check for here is that there is no per-call surcharge. Your final alternate is a wireless plan that includes unlimited long distance.

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