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Long Distance Carriers

Editor's Choice

Telna (Sign Up)
Telna has very low US and international rates with 1 second billing increments (see note #2). They treat customers well and offer lots of extras, like savings for your mobile phone and toll free numbers that can help people reach you anywhere in the world.

Long distance carriers comparison

Tips for international callers choosing a discount long distance carrier

Even the cheapest long distance carriers have high quality services and features, but not all are equal when it comes to the rates and details

Are you thinking about swiching your long distance carrier? If you frequently call international numbers, or use long distance within the USA, it's wise to consider your options. Discount long distance carriers provide great quality at very cheap rates.

Here are some suggestions to help you decide whether or not to change carriers. Two recommended carriers are listed to the right, and you can also check this long distance carriers comparison.

1. Make sure you're not paying high rates

If you are within the United States you should be paying less than 5¢ per minute for interstate calls, and you should be paying less than 5¢ per minute for most international calls. If you think you are over-paying, check this comparison chart.

2. Be aware of billing increments

Smaller billing increments (e.g., 6 seconds or less) mean cheaper rates. Carriers with 6 second billing increments round the length of each call up to the nearest 6 seconds to calculate the charge. But some carriers round the length of each call to the nearest minute. Smaller increments means you are only paying for the actual talking time.

3. Consider whether it's worth it to pay a monthly fee

Many discount carriers don't charge a monthly fee, but keep an eye on the details. Some advertise no monthly fees, but they include charges under other names (like "Network Access Fee").

Sometimes it makes sense to pay a monthly fee. If a carrier's rate is extremely low, and you are a high volume caller, then the savings may compensate for the monthly fee. If you are a low volume caller (less than 500 minutes per month), then it's better to pay a slightly higher rate with no monthly fee.

4. High volume callers beware of "Administration Fees"

There are two required fees that everyone pays: the USF (Universal Service Fund) fee and federal tax. Businesses also pay a PICC fee if they have extra lines. Carriers are not allowed to inflate these fees.

But they are allowed to charge an "administrative fee" (to cover the cost of collecting the other fees). Most discount carriers don't charge administrative fees, but some do. These are percentage fees, so they add up for high volume callers.

5. Don't overlook the extra features

The best discount carriers don't just lower their rates, they give you extra features. For example, all the carriers featured here can give you a toll free number for a small fee, but only Telna lets you forward your toll free number to any phone or mobile phone number that you choose in the USA or worldwide.

6. What billing options suit you?

Do you mind having your credit card charged automatically each month, or do you prefer to write a check? Do you want a paper billing statement in the mail, or are you willing to view the information online? Generally speaking, you will save more if you pay by credit card and view your statements online.

7. Compare your options

See this comparison of costs, fees, features, and other factors for three of the top US discount carriers.

Happy calls!