KNOW THY TELECOM SELF Understand your own telephone calling patterns. Do you make most of your telephone calls during day, night, or on weekends? If you don't make frequent residential long distance telephone calls, perhaps a long distance telephone dial-around service ("10-10") is right plan for you or a plan with no monthly minimum fees.
YOU WON'T KNOW UNTIL YOU ASK – Ask your long distance telephone provider about any promotions they might be running. You can even ask other long distance telephone companies about any switching benefits they might be offering.
READ THE FINE PRINT – Phone companies each have different restrictions and offerings. Make sure you read fine print.
BEWARE OF ADDITIONAL CHARGES – Ask if there are monthly, minimum or per-call fees in addition to per minute rates. For example, if a dial-around service charges a $5 monthly fee and you make only one 10 minute call that month, then you pay an extra 50 cents a minute for that call.
BE CAREFUL OF COMPARISON RATES IN ADVERTISEMENTS – Consumers should be careful about comparison rates in advertisements, such as 50% off of a telephone carrier's "basic" rates, because such "basic" telephone rates are often not lowest telphone rates available.
CHECK OUT THE PHONE COMPANIES' WEB SITES – Their sites should have specific information on their rates and calling plans.
TIE-INS AND OTHER DISCOUNTS – Ask your long distance telephone carrier about mileage tie-ins that they may offer. Many companies now offer miles per dollar spent on your residential long distance telephone bill. Your long distance telephone minutes can add up to a free trip! Also, some phone carriers provide discounts if you have your long distance telephone charges billed to your credit card.