Save Money Using Long Distance Providers

savemoneyusinglongdistanceproviders.jpgThere are so many long distance providers available to Canadians that it can be difficult to evaluate them all, but in this guide I’m going to give it my best effort! There are essentially three types of long distance providers that you might consider using and that is what this guide is all about.

In This Guide

Direct Dial Long Distance Through Your Home Phone Provider

Every home phone provider offers standard per minute rates for long distance and many of them also offer packages with monthly fees that give you either significantly reduced rates, a bundle of long distance minutes to use every month, or even unlimited long distance. These packages are worth looking into and may give you acceptable rates depending on who your home phone service provider is. It may make sense to check out other home phone service providers in your area that may have cheaper long distance rates if you make a lot of long distance calls.

However, it is rare for a home phone provider to provide the absolute best rates, no matter how they package it, so make sure you check out other dedicated or dial around long distance providers as well. Rates vary significantly from province to province so I am unable to offer a comprehensive price comparison here but instead I will list the major home phone providers and the provinces that they service (see province abbreviations list @ Wikipedia) and you can compare the rates for your province yourself.

This list of companies does not include those companies that provide a VoIP based home phone and long distance service.

Company Provinces Serviced Notes
Bell ON, QC  
BellAliant NB, NL, NS, PE  
EastLink AB, BC, NB, NL, NS, ON, PE Only provides scattered service in many provinces.
MTS MB  
Primus Unknown You have to enter in your phone number or area code to see if service is available.
Rogers NB, NL, ON This is a partial VoIP service but it is run on Rogers dedicated cable network.
SaskTel SK Appears to be the only provider servicing Saskatchewan.
Shaw AB, BC, MB  
Telus AB, BC  
Yak AB, BC, ON, QC Yak rents the physical telephone lines of other companies to provide their service.

Direct Dial Long Distance Supplementing Your Home Phone Provider

Direct dial long distance providers are service providers that entirely replace the existing long distance service provided to you by your home phone service provider. That means whenever you pick up the phone and dial a long distance number, the call will be connected and billed through your dedicated long distance provider. The rates from these specialized companies tend to be a fair bit cheaper than those offered by your home phone provider otherwise there would be no reason for you to switch.

The long distance services listed below are available in most provinces so it is much easier to compare rates and plans.

Per Minute Rate With No Monthly Fees

These are the long distance providers that offer per minute rates without any monthly package price. In some cases, a network service fee may apply.

Company Canada USA Network Fee Notes
Rogers 7¢-12¢ 7¢-12¢ $5.95 The Starter Plan. Rates vary by province but most are 7¢. Provinces that have Rogers Home phone can’t buy long distance separately.
Startec 3.9¢ 3.9¢ $0.00 Very good international rates!
Teksavvy 2.9¢ 2.9¢ $0.00 Only available in select provinces. Contact customer service to check availability.
Telehop 2.2¢* 2.4¢* $0.00 * You get to pick 2 countries to get special discounted rates. Also offer good international rates when you factor in the discount.
Yak 3.5¢ 3.5¢ $0.00  

Per Minute Rate With A Small Monthly Fee

These are the long distance providers that either give discounted per minute rates by paying a small monthly fee in addition to the per minute rates. In some cases, a network service fee may apply.

Company Canada USA Monthly Fee Network Fee Notes
Primus $1.00 $4.95-$5.45 Primus World plan. Oddly, it is cheaper than the Five Anytime plan.
Rogers $1.00 $5.95 Smart Plan.
Uniserve 2.5¢ 2.5¢ $4.95 $0.00 Freedom Plus.

Unlimited & Minute Bundle Canada Packages

These are the long distance providers that either have a package that provides unlimited minutes within Canada or a specific bundle of minutes for a given monthly rate.

Company Monthly Fee Network Fee Notes
Primus $19.95 $3.95 Truly Unlimited Canada plan.
Telehop $8.99 $0.00 Unlimited Canada Plan. A 2000 minute (33.3 hours) monthly cap applies, so it isn't truly unlimited.

Unlimited & Minute Bundle North America Packages

These are the long distance providers that either have a package that provides unlimited minutes or a specified bundle of minutes within Canada and the USA for a given monthly rate. Canada and the USA aren’t technically the only countries in North America but for the purposes of this comparison they are the only two countries considered to be North America.

Company Monthly Fee Network Fee Notes
Primus $24.95 $3.95 Truly Unlimited North America plan.
Rogers $22.95 $5.95 North America 2500 plan. Only 2500 minutes included, not unlimited.
TekSavvy $19.95 $0.00 Unlimited North America plan. May require TekSavvy VoIP home phone service. Call for details.
Telehop $14.99 $0.00 Unlimited Canada and U.S. Plan. A 2000 minute (33.3 hours) monthly cap applies, so it isn't truly unlimited.
Yak $17.95 $0.00 Unlimited Long Distance Canada plan. Not really unlimited due to the 1500 minute per month cap.

Dial Around Long Distance

Dial around long distance providers are service providers that can be used with any traditional home phone service, and occasionally cell phone service, without replacing your existing long distance service provider. This is accomplished by first dialing an access number, usually prefixed with 10-10, to connect to their system and then entering in the phone number of the person you are calling to be connected to them. This works much like how calling cards work except that you usually always have your phone number registered with them so that you don’t have to enter any PINs or additional numbers outside of the access number. You also typically get billed for your usage directly on your phone bill after the fact and instead of prepaying.

It is also important to note that these services are usually only available with standard telephone service providers like Bell, Telus, and Rogers and they aren’t always available in all areas. If you have a standard, non-VoIP, telephone service you can easily dial the number to test and see if it will work for you.

Per Minute Rate

These are the dial around long distance services that offer a flat per minute rate. A few of the listed services do have minute bundles for the first several minutes of the call at a reduced rate. Those services are typically inferior for short calls because you are almost always charged for the full bundle of minutes even if you don’t use them. Alo is the exception to this rule in that for shorter calls they only bill you 5¢/min instead of billing you for the entire 50¢ minute bundle. 10-10-229, Alo, and Yak are the best options if you want a service that doesn’t have a minimum charge.

Company Number Canada USA Notes
10-10-229 10-10-229 5¢ connection fee.
Buzz 10-11-555 4.0¢ 4.0¢ First 10 minutes cost 25¢ for an effective rate of 2.5¢/min. Every call has a minimum 10 minute charge.
Alo 10-10-256 50 minutes for 50¢ for an effective rate of 1c/min. 5¢/min for calls shorter than 10 minutes or for additional minutes after 50 minutes.
Startec 10-10-719 4.9¢ 4.9¢ 59¢ connection fee and $2.50 fee applies monthly if you don’t spend at least $5.00 on Startec calls that month.
Telehop 10-10-100 First 15 minutes cost 25¢ for an effective rate of 1.67¢/min. Every call has a minimum 15 minute charge.
Yak 10-10-925 No additional fees. Available almost everywhere in Canada.

Bundle Of Minutes For A Flat Rate (Per Call)

These are the dial around long distance services that give you a bundle of minutes on every call for a set rate. This typically means that you will be billed the rate for the entire bundle of minutes even for short calls, which can end up being quite expensive. However, if your call is long enough to use up all of the bundled minutes or more, then you will typically get much cheaper effective rates than going with dial around service that charges you by the minute. Again, Alo is the exception to this in that they don’t bill you for the entire bundle of minutes if you have a really short call.

Unless otherwise noted, all of the services listed below have the same rate for both Canada and the USA and some of them offer the same rate to several other countries as well.

Company Number Minutes Cost Per Min Extra Mins Notes
Alo 10-10-256 50 $0.50 No minimum charge. Shorter calls billed at 5¢ per minute.
LooneyCall 10-15-565 100 $1.00 Minimum $1.00 charge for all calls. Owned and operated by Yak.
Lucky Call 101-8888 No limit $1.99 < 1¢ Fixed $1.99 charge for all calls.
Telehop 10-10-620 No limit $1.00 < 1¢ Fixed $1.00 charge for all calls.

Unlimited Monthly Packages

Monthly packages are a bit of a rarity for dial around long distance service providers with Worldline being the only provider I know of that offers such a service. It can also be easily used with cell phones because it uses local access numbers (LANs) instead of the normal 10-10 number.

Company Number Monthly Fee Notes
Wordline 28 LANs $3.95 Unlimited Call Canada plan. There is a $10 annual network fee that also applies. You have to pay for both your first and last months in advance when you sign up.
Check out the rest of Services section for ways to save money on all of your other services!

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