Cheap Phone Card to China?

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You're thinking pf buying a cheap phone card to China online. Beware the "hidden charges" with prepaid phone cards, particularly when you making short international calls to China.

Here's five things to note:

1. Connection Fee. Also called a "bong" fee, because the charge occurs when you hear a "bong" on the line. A hidden charge, this is an excuse to add an extra fee over and above the charge per minute. Tip: I recommend you choose only cards with no connection fee unless you plan to make very long phone calls and the card has a very low per-minute rate.

2. Maintenance Fee. Some companies charge a daily, weekly, or monthly fee, for the life of the card, so you could actually use up all of the time you've paid for without ever making a single phone call. However, these cards usually have a very low per-minute rate, often as low as 1 cent, or even less. Unless you plan to make a lot of calls in a very short period of time (e.g. one week), avoid this type of card.

3. Multiple Minute Rounding. This means the time of a call is rounded up to the next higher minute -- or even five minutes! What this means is that, in the latter case, a call to China lasting 5 minutes and thirty seconds, would be charged at ten minutes. In this case, a cheap phone card to China is not that cheap after all! Again, avoid this type of card unless you plan on making very long calls each time. Short calls will use up the card quickly.

4. Payphone charge. Most, if not all, companies offering prepaid cheap phone card to China have a surcharge, usually about 50 cents, on every call made from a pay telephone.

5. Per-minute rates. Many prepaid phone cards, especially those sold at airports and hotels, may not disclose the per- minute rate. Even though many prepaid phone cards with hidden charges, such as maintenance fees, connection fees, and minute rounding, have very low rates, sometimes a penny or less per minute, prepaid phone cards without hidden fees, often have a rate of 5 to 15 cents a minute.

Note: Prepaid phone cards sold in vending machines at hotels and airports, however, typiocally charge a per-minute rate of 50 cents per minute. If you plan to travel to China or any other country and wish to get a prepaid cheap phone card to China to use on your trip, be sure to purchase it before you leave home.

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