Glossary Of Phonecard Terms
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A Glossary of Phonecard Terms and Definitions – Uncovering the Charges

Have you discovered the convenient world of prepaid phonecards? If you’re just diving in, or if you’re already taking advantage of this modern convenience, then you may be finding some of the “lingo” somewhat confusing. There are so many phonecards out there, and so many terms associated with them.

So we’ve assembled a simple glossary of phonecard terms and definitions here, to help you through the tough stuff. Check it out, and make sure you understand. Take away the confusion, and bring in knowledge.

  • Access number
    You dial your access number to use your phonecard; it’s usually a toll free number.
  • Billing increments
    Billing increments are the basic units of measurement for each call, also known as “per minute rounding”. The normal billing increment is 1 minute, although some cards use 2 or 3 minutes. Some international long distance cards charge in 6-minute billing increments, so if you make a 7-minute call, you’ll be charged for 12 minutes.
  • Connection fee
    A connection fee is charged against the balance of your phonecard, every time a connection is made. Some phone cards don’t charge a connection fee, but those cards have higher per-minute rates.
  • Country code
    A country code is a 2 or 3 digit code used for international calls outside North America. You dial 011 + country code + city code + local phone number. A couple of examples of country codes are 91 for India and 22 for Bombay.
  • Disconnect fee
    Some card companies charge a disconnect fee. This is a hidden charge which is charged against your balance, just like a connection fee, every time you hang up. Not all cards charge this.
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
    The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the government body in the United States that regulates the sale of prepaid long distance phone cards.
  • Long call fee
    Some service providers charge a long call fee – another hidden charge – that charges more if the caller exceeds 20 minutes on one call.
  • Maintenance fee
    A maintenance fee is an optional fee that’s used to make sure that phonecards are used up in the first week of use. This is designed to make customers buy additional cards.
  • Operator-assisted calls
    Operator-assisted calls are charged if the call originates in college apartments and dormitories, hotels, hospitals and residences without a long distance service provider. The charge for these calls is the same as the payphone surcharge, and is charged whether the call is connected or not.
  • Payphone surcharge
    A payphone surcharge is charged by law, to compensate private service providers of public payphones and operator-assisted calls.
  • Person-to-person call
    A person-to-person call is operator-assisted, and is only charged if the specified caller is available.
  • PIN (personal identification number)
    Your PIN (personal identification number) is used to identify customers with their respective phonecards.
  • Prepaid phonecards
    Prepaid phonecards are telephone products with a set value, that are used to make domestic and international long distance phone calls.
  • Random disconnects
    Random disconnects are used by some service providers to stop long calls in progress. This is a trick and is something to watch out for.
  • Random surcharges
    Random surcharges are another form of hidden charges that randomly take away minutes on your phonecard, for no apparent reason. Watch out for these, too.
  • Rate manipulation
    Yet another hidden charge is rate manipulation. This one takes away minutes in the same form as taxes.
  • Rechargeable phonecard
    A rechargeable phonecard can be refilled by paying more money to the phonecard account without the purchase of a new card or a new PIN.
  • Smart card
    A smart card is a plastic phonecard with a stored cash value in a micro-chip inside the card.

  • Surcharge
    Some companies charge a surcharge on top of the base rate to cover their costs.
  • Taxes
    Be aware of phonecards that state, “Taxes may apply”. This is a form of rate manipulation. Again, watch out for it.

That’s the list – not too much, but the important terms you’ll need to know when shopping for your prepaid phonecard. As you can see from many of the terms, you need to be very careful when buying a phonecard. There are many hidden charges. Look for the companies that tell you up front exactly what you’ll pay, and exactly what you’re paying for. If a company needs to hide charges, then they’re probably trying to cheat you – not good business practice.

But don’t get the wrong idea about phonecards. There are many reputable companies providing superior service. So do your homework because there are so many out there.

About The Author

Gareth Marples is a successful freelance writer providing tips and advice for consumers purchasing prepaid long distance calling cards, surfing the Internet for website hosting services and comparing DSL modems & equipment. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.

This "Glossary of Phonecard Terms & Definitions" reprinted with permission.

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