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The Hidden Fees of Calling Cards


Long distance calling cards typically contain many hidden fees and surcharges, leaving users without the long distance minutes that they expect. Hidden fees are charged because the pre-paid international calling card industry is so competitive that companies manufacturing these cards feel that then need to show consumers the lowest per minute rates. To lower the per-minute rate means to take a cut in profit, hence the extra fees. Wholesale phonecards are nearly impossible to find because profit margins are so low. Below is a a summary of these hidden phone card fees.

Surcharge: usually a percentage that is added onto the per-minute rate.

Connection Fee: a flat rate deducted from your calling card’s prepaid balance once you connect with the party you are calling.

Maintenance Fee: a fee charged when the calling card is not in use. i.e. a calling card maintenance fee of 25 cents per week will deduct 25 cents per week from the total pre-paid balance regardless of whether you use the card or not.

Toll-free Access Fee: a fee charged added to the calling cards per-minute rate if you use the toll free number to call your destination. Most cards have a local access number, using the local access number avoids this fee.

Service Charge: Although this term is general, it usually refers to a flat fee deducted from the pre-paid balance after a certain call duration. Almost like a delayed connection fee.

No Fee “Clean” Calling Cards: these cards contain no extra fees except for a toll-free access fee. This toll-free access fee can be avoided if you use a local access number to make your call.

Available no-fee cards include Bita calling card (for Americans) and CiCi calling card (for Canadians) . Both Bita ( and Cici ( are great for you if your calling patterns vary between long and short call durations.

“CiCi and Bita Calling Cards are different, they give you the minutes that you have bought” says Teddy Thompson of Calling Card Reviews ( This site has reviewed and rated CiCi a 4 out of 5 stars. Mr. Thompson’s site reviews and rates both traditional calling cards and instant phone cards provided via email.


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