Chat cheaply--long distance is getting cheaper

Thrifty AccountantThe Thrifty Accountant Newsletter

--Two minutes of money saving strategies

 

Greetings fellow thrifty accountants!

I didn't consider myself a big user of long distance services, and as a result, I never bothered to research long distance rates in the past. When I ran across this rate comparison site in a newsletter, I was skeptical--but I have saved $10-20/ month since switching six months ago.

To me, the only thing that matters in long distance service is:

Today's newsletter shows you how to select a less expensive long distance provider--quickly and easily.

Chat cheaply

1) Cost

I was using A T & T long distance "Value Plus Flat Rate" plan, which has a $3/month charge, plus 7 cents/minute, rounded up to the nearest minute (please don't lose all respect for me as a "thrifty accountant.")

The 7 cents/minute was actually negotiated down from the 10 cents a minute they began charging--I called to find out why the rate had gone up, and they reduced it back down . . . thanks for nothing!

When I first visited this comparison listing of long distance providers -- http://www.lowermybills.com -- the first provider listed was ECG Easy 2.5 and I ended up selecting ECG as my provider. The rate plans shown are supposedly in order of cheapest first, but you need to examine the plan details. Also, offerings vary slightly based on your state.

The ECG Easy 2.5 plan charges a $0.59 monthly fee, then 2.5 cents/minute for out-of-state calls, in 6-second increments. The fact that they use 6-second increments, instead of rounding up to the next minute can make a big difference in your charges if you make a lot of short calls like I do.

The cost to change long distance providers was $3.50 per line for me. I easily saved that much the first month. My long distance bills went from an average of $20/month to $3/month.

2) Clarity

The calls are just as clear as when I was using the prior long distance service.

In the Lowermybills "Frequently Asked Questions" section, they state that:

"There is no difference in the quality of your long distance connection. All long distance companies, including AT&T, Sprint and WorldCom use the same fiber optic networks to transport their calls."


You can read the FAQs, which provide some other interesting answers, by clicking on "Frequently asked questions" in the box near the top of the page listing the providers. The link is right below "Enter your area code."


3) Convenience

In order to qualify for the cheapest rate plan (2.5 cents/minute), you must enroll to have your bill sent via email and paid automatically by credit card.

I receive an email once/month that my statement is ready, then I login to their system to print out the statement. The statements are easy to read and don't have any extra charges. I have found this to be reasonably convenient.

At first I was reluctant to have the bill automatically charged to my credit card, but I have been so pleased with the low rates, I am now a happy customer.


4) Bonus!

With the ECG plan I also received an "800" number that I can use to call home when I'm out of town (at the same low rates). Think about it--if you want to set up a home business and have a "big company 800 number"--it's f-r-e-e! That could save you hundreds of dollars a year.

I can't use this feature for FunCPE's toll-free number because you can't choose your number, and I like 877-7FUNCPE. Businesses can use the ECG plan, although there is a small additional line charge.


How to get there

  1. Go to http://www.lowermybills.com
  2. Click on "PHONE & INTERNET in the green menu bar
  3. Select "Long distance service" from the drop down menu
  4. In the Long Distance box, select your state and click "Go"

November 2006 | Issue #008