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If most of your international calling is to one particular country, you can save the most by switching to a plan that offers reduced rates or an unlimited calling package for that country.
The best deals for Mexico and Latin America can be found through Qwest. Qwest offers both reduced rates and minutes package deals for substantial savings.
AT&T offers a one-country unlimited calling plan for between $40 and 50 per month. Verizon offers a plan that provides a rate below listed rates for one international region, such as Europe or Asia.
With so many choices available, choosing a long distance phone service can be difficult.
A great place to start is by reviewing your current phone bill. How many long distance minutes do you usually use per month?
Next, visit a site that compares phone services and take a look at what is available in your area. If you find a carrier that looks good to you, visit their website to get more details on the package they offer.
If you are trying to decide between a measured rate service and an unlimited package, take the average number of long distance minutes you use per month and multiply them by the best per minute rate you found. Compare this number to the unlimited service monthly charge - if it is higher, then an unlimited service is best for you.
If it is lower, then stick to a measured rate and look into supplementing it with free cellular long distance, PC-phone calling or PC-PC calling.
Always make sure to take another look every two months to ensure that you are always getting the best deal. Now that numbers are portable from carrier to carrier, there is no reason to lose money by staying with a high cost carrier just to avoid the hassle of switching.
dPi Teleconnect offers a program for those just starting out or who have poor credit.
There is a package available that offers unlimited local calling, plus 100 minutes of free long distance at roughly $50/month. Features included are call waiting and caller ID.
There are no service agreements, deposits or credit checks and service can be prepaid.
A five-day grace extension can be added to your package for a few dollars a month and a dPi Club package that includes credit counseling, plus a three month payment waiver in the event of job loss, can be added for $3/month.
dPi also offers prepaid cellular and Internet services.
It is always prudent financial management to review your costs each month and see if there are ways to eliminate the fat. With long distance service, there are lots of cost-cutting ideas available.
First make sure you are getting the best deal. As new packages become available on a regular basis and rates change, it is a good idea to use a search around every two months. This way, if there is a better deal, you will find it.
Secondly, if you are on a measured rate plan, keep track of how long you talk each month. If your charges are adding up to more than the monthly charges for unlimited service, it may make sense to switch to an unlimited service.
You can always supplement your measured rate charges every month by using a PC-phone service like Skype, your free long distance offered by your cellular carrier, or a low rate calling card if less than your carrier's per minute charges.
One of the best ways to get great rates for infrequent long distance callers is still by using a calling card.
Rates as low as 2.9 cents a minute are offered by Powernet Global, and AT&T offers a combination calling and credit card for even more convenience.
Some of the best international rates are offered by the Pingo calling card.
If you don't want to have any nasty surprises when you receive your bill, a prepaid calling card may be the way to go. It simply stops working when you have used up all your minutes.
Calling cards can be very useful if you travel frequently, or in emergencies. They can be used from any phone, which includes both pay phones and cell phones.
Obviously the cheapest way to make long distance calls is to find a special offer for free calling.
As a promotion, many cellular providers such as Cingular/AT&T are offering free long distance calling as an incentive to win new customers. A word of caution is in order here, if you exceed your minutes per month usuage, your "free" long distance can actually cost you more than if you dialed the call directly from your residential landline phone.
Another popular way to get free long distance is through PC-PC calling, using services such as Yahoo IM, Googletalk, and Skype. This is only free if the party you are calling has the same service, and call quality can be spotty. But it is hard to argue with something that is free!
Since nationwide long distance is included with most VoIP or unlimited plans offered by carriers, such as Vonage and Verizon, long distance can be considered "free" if you are a subscriber.
If saving money is more important to you than consistent call quality, then PC-phone dialing offers a very low cost alternative to a long distance carrier and is easy and convenient.
The best known service is Skype-Out, current phone rates are shown on the website at skype.com.
If you prefer the peace of mind that an unlimited plan provides or don't have a broadband connection, another option is OPEX Family Click2Dial, offered for about $10 a month. To use this service, all you do is visit the company website, dial the number from a dialpad and pick up your phone when it rings. If you do have dial-up Internet service, you will have to have a separate phone line to receive the call.
Other providers of PC-phone services include Yahoo, Net2phone, PCCall, Firefly and VBuzzer. Calls are made using a computer headset or USB phone for most of these services.
If you make a lot of long distance calls, an unlimited plan provides the most secure option for you. There are no nasty surprises when your phone bill comes every month, and the savings over measured rates can be significant.
The lowest cost option outside of PC-phone dialing is choosing one of the many VoIP providers who offer unlimited nationwide calling for a low flat rate. Vonage, AT&T Callvantage, Verizon BroadWing, SunRocket, MyPhoneCall.com and Packet8 all offer unlimited plans with varying prices.
If unwavering call quality is important to you, the next best choice is a Digital VoIP carrier that offers service through a managed broadband network. These services often include a full-features package and can be bundled with cable or Internet services for more savings. Carrier choices here include Comcast, RCN and Time Warner Cable. Most services run between $30 and $45 per month in this category.
If you just don't trust VoIP in any form, you will be happy to learn that traditional services have responded to competition from VoIP and digital services by cutting their rates and offering competitive long distance packages as well. Traditional services are still a bit higher, but have come down significantly over the past several years. AT&T and Verizon are two carriers that offer traditional service for unlimited nationwide calling at competitive rates.