Prepaid long distance is when you pay in advance to make long distance phone calls or to use a prepaid cellular phone. Basically, you purchase a certain amount of minutes of airtime, and once you use up all of these long distance minutes you must buy more. There are many different companies that offer this service, and the terms under which you use your purchase can vary a great deal.
One of the ways to purchase prepaid long distance is buy buying a card that has a certain number of "minutes" allotted to it. There are many different denominations of prepaid cards you can buy, and usually you will receive more minutes as the price of the card goes up. A good way to compare long distance phone cards is by determining the price per minute that it will cost to use the phone card, and obviously the lower the per minute cost is, the better value the card will be. In addition to the price per minute, there also can be several additional charges, for instance the price of the first minute of the phone call may be more expensive, and there will usually be higher costs for international calls. The minutes of a phone card also may or may not have an expiration date, after which they can no longer be used.
When you purchase a prepaid long distance card, you are given an 800 number to call first whenever placing a long distance call. After dialing this number, you usually enter a pin number followed by the phone number that you are trying to reach. Once you are connected, you will begin to be charged for the call. These types of cards are ideal for people who do not have a long distance plan on their landline phone, or for those traveling without a cell phone. It is also not always necessary to buy a physical card, as there are prepaid long distance companies online, for example, where you buy minutes and then are given your pin number.
For people who want a cell phone but do not want a contract, there are cell phones that offer usage based on prepaid long distance. Obviously not all calls that are made will be long distance, and this adds another variable to the price of each minute when using the phone. These prepaid cell phones also usually contain many more stipulations for minute usage than a long distance phone card, and the minutes will usually expire in a much shorter period of time. In addition, the rates that apply to prepaid long distance cell phones vary even more greatly between companies, and the user can be charged extra from their prepaid account just for using the phone once a day.