Shop smart; lower your long-distance rates.
That's the message from the Telephone Research & Action Center (TRAC), a nonprofit group in Washington.
"It's more important than ever that consumers get on the right calling plan," says Geoff Mordock, a TRAC researcher.
So pull out your phone bills for the last three months and hunt for patterns: How much do you spend? What percentage of calls during nights and weekends? Do you call one number or several?
TRAC's latest analysis shows flat-rate plans as the least expensive. For calls made mostly on nights and weekends, TRAC suggests an MCI flat-rate plan (800-444-3333), especially on Sundays, when MCI charges a nickel a minute.
But if at least half your calls come during the day, TRAC suggests Matrix (800-282-0242), Excel (800-875-9235), or Sprint (800-746-3767).
TRAC's "WebPricer" (www.trac.org/webpricer/index.html) can make recommendations for your calling patterns. For its Tele-Tips report, send a $5 check and a 55-cent, self-addressed, stamped envelop to: TRAC; P.O. Box 27279; Washington, DC 20005.