Factors to consider when selecting your long-distance phone service

Families who keep in touch with relatives on the other side of the country often find themselves dealing with hefty long-distance charges on their phone bills. Consumers have quite a bit of flexibility in choosing their long-distance provider. You can cut your long-distance phone costs by comparing competing competitor's rates and finding a deal that fits your call schedule.

Evaluate your current rates
The easiest way to get a sense of your ideal long-distance service plan is to review your current rates. Long-distance charges should appear on your regular phone bill, but you can also determine your present long-distance carrier by dialing 1-700-555-4141 from a landline phone. Next, map out your calling habits over an entire month. Try to identify patterns of long-distance calling so you can create a schedule. You can compare this schedule to the rate plan designated by your carrier and determine where and why you are being overcharged. Finally, be sure to cancel your old long-distance service if you are planning on switching to a new phone provider, warns the Federal Communications Commission. Get in touch with your local phone service provider to start the process of leaving your current long-distance provider.

Weigh your new options
Be diligent as you shop around for a new long-distance service. There are many options for connecting with out-of-state loved ones besides choosing a another long-distance provider. Your local cable provider, for example, may include long-distance service as part of a cable and Internet package. Switching your long-distance provider may simply be a good excuse to upgrade your living room's media options. Remember to review the details of your new long-distance phone service agreement before signing up for the media bundle.

Consider your long-distance calling schedule as you discuss rates with long-distance providers. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Committee recommends that consumers ask long-distance providers about unique plans that fit their particular calling habits. This small bit of negotiating could go a long way toward saving you money each month when you dial a relative across the country.

Landline phones still hold the edge versus smartphones when it comes to routine long-distance calling. The right service plan offers greater value than pricey cellular roaming charges and prepaid call cards. Households without a landline phone may want to consider installing an old-school model just to make long-distance calls.

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