PREPAID CARDS & CALLING CARDS
As of January 2005, all students have free voicemail and can make free on-campus, local, and 800 calls from their room phones. For a list of exchanges included in the local calling area, click here.
To make long distance and international calls from a room phone, students now need a pre-paid phone card or calling card. Please read the sections below for important factors to consider when choosing which type of card to buy.
Pre-paid cards are popular for placing long distance and international calls. There are a wide variety of cards available, many of which specialize in calling to particular countries. The cards are purchased for a set amount and are either discarded when the allotted time is used or can be recharged, usually be calling a designated number and providing credit card information.
As the name implies, the usage on this type of card is paid in advance, so there is never a bill and therefore never any call detail. For that reason you may wish to track your usage to ensure you are getting what you paid for.
Please consider the following factors when choosing a pre-paid card:
- Is the card accessed via a toll-free number? Free calls
from student rooms are limited to on-campus, local, and
800 numbers, so make sure the card does not
require a long
distance number for access.
- Does the card have an expiration date?
- Is there a per-call set-up fee?
- Is there a monthly service
- Most cards have an additional charge if it is
used from a payphone. If you will be making calls from
payphones, how much is the fee?
- What is the actual
cost per minute? Many cards quote only a minute count
and leave it to the
consumer to calculate
the cost per minute.
- If you will be making international
calls, what is the rate to the countries you will be
calling? Most carriers now pass on fees associated with
called a Mobile Termination Charge) to the
cardholder. Does that apply?
- Is the card rechargeable? At what rate?
Where to find pre-paid
Pre-paid cards are sold in many venues, including convenience and grocery stores, websites, and the Smith College Bookstore. Some of the largest sellers of pre-paid cards are large department and discount stores, including Walmart, BJ's, and Costco.
Traditional calling cards differ from pre-paid cards in that they are billed, typically on a monthly basis. Because of the added cost of billing, calling cards tend to have slightly higher rates. However, calling cards also provide call detail, so you can be sure you pay only for minutes you actually use.
Calling cards are typically available only through regular telephone
carriers. Most traditional calling cards are linked to
a regular home telephone account for billing, but some
carriers also offer “non-subscriber” accounts
that have separate billing.
When opening a calling card account, do not link it to your room telephone number. Instead, you should either associate it with a regular home telephone number or establish a “non-subscriber” account.