Which is best for you, a bundle of local and long distance phone services or separate local and long distance calling plans?
Time's up! The real answer is that it depends completely on your particular location and calling pattern. A bundled plan is best for some people. But for many others, keeping your current local phone company for local calls only and switching your long distance service to a competitive provider will give you a lower total phone cost per month.
For instance, I just tried a quote on our Quick Long Distance Phone Rate Calculator for our phone line in Illinois. This quick calculator assumes that you have one phone line and make 100 minutes of Interstate calling per month and 100 minutes of Intrastate long distance calls for a total of 200 minutes. All I did was enter my area code and the first 3 digits of the phone number. That's enough to identify which local phone company you are using. In about a second, it put up a chart of 10 long distance providers and what each would charge per month. It's like a search engine for long distance service.
In this case the winner is Unitel Long Distance with inter-state calls at 2.7 cents per minute and Illinois calls at 1.9 cents per minute. There is no monthly fee, so the cost of the 200 total long distance minutes would be $4.60.
Now, I can get local phone service with Caller ID for about $23 a month. Using my current local phone service with UniTel long distance gives me a total phone cost per month of $28 more or less. I say that because we pay for local calls by the call and the rates varies with the time of day. Also, the quick calculator doesn't figure in any taxes or government mandated fees. Those tend to be the same no matter what service you have. You can get an estimate on how much they are by clicking on the Total LD amount link on the calculator results page.
OK, so $28 for separate local and long distance service. How does that compare with bundled? A 200 minute bundled plan here is $33.99 less taxes and surcharges. I could also get an unlimited plan for $49.99 a month. That would be great if I talked a lot more on the phone than I really do.
But, wait. Even if you're a big talker, don't jump for that unlimited plan yet. If you want to same money, it's worth doing a little extra research. For that, we'll use a Detailed Long Distance Phone Rate Calculator. This one lets you enter the number of in-state and out of state minutes you actually call each month. You can also include calls to other countries and the calculator will include them in the total. You'll get a fair assessment of which service will give you the lowest total long distance bill. With UniTel long distance, I would have to make more than 1,150 minutes a month of intrastate and interstate long distance calls for an unlimited bundled plan to save me money.
Now, here's your money saving assignment. Find your phone bill and see how many minutes of long distance calls you make per month. Be sure to include Intralata or local long distance calls which are billed by your local phone company unless you elect to have your competitive long distance provider bill them, usually at the in-state rate. Use either the Quick Long Distance Phone Rate Calculator or the Detailed Long Distance Phone Rate Calculator to search for the best rates in your location. Rates vary by state and even within states depending on which phone office serves you. Now compare what you pay now with what you would pay with a different long distance provider and compare that to bundled local and long distance service offers.
Voila! You now know what your best phone service option is! Congratulations. All you need to do now is place your order so you'll pay less for phone calls in the future. With either of the long distance calculators, you can simply click on the name of the provider and you'll be taken directly to that service for more details and easy online ordering.
Can businesses also save money on their long distance calls? You bet. For a business location rather than residential, use the Detailed Business Long Distance Phone Rate Calculator.