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  All About Prepaid Phone Cards  
  Below you'll find a glossary of prepaid phone card terms to help you eliminate the confusion!  
Language of Phone Cards
If you've discovered the world of prepaid phone cards, you'll have noticed that, although these cards can be very handy, some of the language companies use to describe them is very confusing. There are so many types of phone cards out there and so many terms associated with them that, for the layman, understanding exactly what you're getting when you purchase a prepaid phone card can be very difficult.

Below you'll find a simple glossary of phone card terms to help you eliminate the confusion associated with prepaid phone cards.

  • Access number Usually a toll-free number, the access number is the number you dial in order to use a prepaid phone card.
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  • Billing increments Each call is measured in basic units called billing increments. Billing increments are occasionally called "per minute rounding." Most billing increments are one minute, although some cards will measure in two- or three-minute increments. International calling cards may charge in six-minute billing increments, so if you make a seven-minute call, your card will be rounded up to the next increment and you will be charged for 12 minutes.
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  • Connection fee Each time you make a call, most companies will charge a connection fee against the balance of the phone card. Those companies that do not charge a connection fee often include higher per-minute rates on their phone cards.
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  • Country code Each country is associated with a two- or three-digit code. When dialing outside of North America, you will dial 011 + the country code + the city code + the local phone number. An example of a country code is 91, the code used to reach someone in India. If you are in North America and want to reach someone in Bombay, India, you would dial 011 + 91 + 22 (the city code for Bombay), then the local number.
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  • Disconnect fee A disconnect fee is a hidden charge that some phone card companies charge against the balance of your calling card every time you hang up. Not all companies charge disconnect fees.
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  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) The FCC is a United States governing body that regulates the sale of prepaid phone cards.
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  • Long call fee Another hidden charge, a long-call fee is charged toward the balance of your phone card if your call exceeds 20 minutes. Not all service providers charge a long-call fee.
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  • Maintenance fee This is an optional fee that is used to make sure that the entire balance on a phone card is used in one week. A maintenance fee is designed to ensure that customers will use up their phone card and purchase additional phone cards.
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  • Operator-assisted calls An operator-assisted call is a call originating in a place without long distance phone service. Many college apartments and dorms, as well as some hotels, hospitals, and residences do not provide long-distance service to students, guests, or patients. The charge for one of these calls is the same as the payphone surcharge, and is charged whether or not the call is connected. In other words, whether or not the person you are calling picks up, your card will be charged for making the call without long-distance service.
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  • Payphone surcharge A payphone surcharge compensates private service providers of public payphones and operator-assisted calls. This is not considered a hidden charge, and is regulated by law.
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  • Person-to-person call This type of call is operator-assisted. A phone card will only be charged for a person-to-person call if the specified caller answers.
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  • PIN (personal identification number) Your PIN number associates you with your respective phone card.
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  • Prepaid phone cards A prepaid phone card has a set value, or number of minutes, assigned to it for making domestic or international phone calls.
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  • Random disconnects Some service providers stop long calls in progress by employing random disconnects. Keep an eye out for this practice - it is a trick used by some service providers to force you to charge additional balances to your phone card.
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  • Random surcharges Yet another hidden charge, random surcharges take away minutes from your phone card for no apparent reason. This is another trick employed by phone card providers in order to force you to purchase more minutes or phone cards.
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  • Rate manipulation Rate manipulation is another hidden charge. This particular ploy takes minutes away from your phone card in the form of taxes.
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  • Rechargeable phone card Instead of purchasing a new phone card and getting a new PIN each time you run out of minutes, you can purchase a rechargeable phone card that can be "refilled" by purchasing additional minutes for your phone card account.
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  • Smart card A smart card has a microchip inside with a stored cash value.
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  • Surcharge Surcharges are additional charges made against the base rate of your phone card to cover a company's costs.
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  • Taxes Taxes can be a form of rate manipulation. Some phone cards state that "Taxes may apply." Be wary of using these phone cards, as you will find yourself with far fewer minutes than you paid for.
After reading the above list, you may feel that most phone card companies are just out to trick you into paying too much for long-distance calls. That's not always the case. There are many reputable phone card companies out there - just keep an eye out for those companies who don't state up front exactly what you're paying for. If a company hides charges, they're probably trying to cheat you out of your money.

But, armed with a little knowledge, you will be able to separate the good companies from the bad. Just make sure to do your homework before you buy.

 

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Learn More: Language of Prepaid Phone Cards - How Prepaid Calling Cards Work? - History of International Phone Cards
History of International Long Distance - How Prepaid Long Distance Works? - Long Distance Phone Terms
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