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Prepaid Phone Card: How to get a good one.

Pre-paid phone cards represent telephone time you buy in advance. You pay from $5 to $15 or more up-front for local or long-distance phone time; the amount of time you buy depends on the rate-per-minute you're charged. For many people, pre-paid phone calls offer the ultimate in convenience. The phone time's been paid for in advance; the card can be used from any phone; and there's no need to think about carrying coins or paying a bill later on.

Ask if the retailer will stand behind the card if the telephone service is unsatisfactory.

The pre-paid phone card industry is highly competitive. Beware of very low rates, particularly for international calls. They may indicate poor customer service.

Check on expiration dates. Most cards expire one year after first use. If there is no expiration date, a card usually is considered "live" until all phone time is used. Look for a toll-free customer service number. If the customer service number isn't toll-free or displayed, it may be difficult to contact the company if you have a problem with the card. A busy signal on the customer service line may be a tip off to a rip-off.

Be sure the card comes with instructions that you understand. Make sure the card comes in a sealed envelope or has a sticker covering the PIN. Otherwise, anyone who copies the PIN can use the phone time you've already paid for.

 





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