Some long-distance deals you wanted to brag about

On May 8 we surveyed some long-distance telephone services and offered tips for matching personal calling habits to plans. We also invited you to let us know what works for you. Some results:

I read with interest your article on long-distance service. I happily gave up Sprint recently and chose GTC. I am now charged 5 cents a minute with no minimum service charge each month. With Sprint I was charged 10 cents per minute plus a minimum service charge of $4.95 if my bill didn't total $30.

With GTC, I charge the bill to my credit card each month and a statement of charges is mailed to me. I hope this is helpful to someone else!

Barbara Stubbe via e-mail

I quote from Nov. 9 Kiplinger's personal-finance magazine: "You can get 5 cents a minute with no additional fees - if you pay by credit card - with GTC Telecom's 5-cents-all-day-every-day plan. If you'd rather pay your GTC charges with your regular phone bill, there's a monthly service fee of $1.95 ... or 6.6 cents per minute."

I have been using the credit-card choice, and find it works well for me.

Sally Kurshildgen via e-mail

[Editor's note: GTC's phone number is 800-486-4030]

I was surprised that you did not mention prepaid phone cards (which can be purchased at convenience stores).

Most of my non-local calls are to overseas destinations, most commonly to Australia and the United Kingdom.

My favorite phone card is EconoPhone's New York LoCall, which my local phone-card store in Brooklyn carries in $10 and $25 denominations.

On calls to London, I pay a 50 cent connect fee plus 3 cents per minute, any time, any day. Australia costs 3.8 cents per minute, plus either $1 or $1.50 per connection. A two-hour call to Australia costs me about $7.

For Big Apple callers, it's great for catching up on the family news.

I have found prices on EconoPhone's Web site to be incomplete or misleading. To get rates, I call the customer-service number on the New York LoCall card.

Heather Walters via e-mail

[Editor's note: EconoPhone, now owned by Viatel Inc, can be reached at 800-454-7091.]

For land-line long-distance calls, I use VAR-TEC 1010-811. [It's] 5 cents a minute, 24/7, inter-and intrastate. There's no monthly fee. It's billed on my regular BellSouth monthly bill.

I use Centennial Wireless (I don't think it's available in all states yet). There are no roaming charges and no long-distance charges anywhere in the state (La.), some parts of Mississippi and about 20 miles offshore into the Gulf, along the entire coast.

So for out-of-state calls, I use the land line. For in-state long-distance, I use my cellphone. The best of both worlds.

You should look into VAR-TECH. I've used them for years (even back when they were the old DimeLine) and never had any trouble.

Centennial Wireless has great service and, very importantly, great people working for them.

And, no, I'm not getting a commission from either of them, even if they knew I was writing you!

Erlene Stewart via e-mail

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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