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TELEPHONE TIPS IN THE USA

Cellular telephones and handheld devices are the best communication medium for most USA visitors. Many wireless networks in the US, are now equipped with GSM technology allowing international travelers with compatible devices to communicate with US networks. 

Before traveling to the USA, check with your service provider about coverage. It may be that the “smart card” (also known as a SIM card) in your existing cellular telephone simply needs to be replaced with one that is compatible. Since SIM cards are not readily available in the USA, it might be wise to purchase your SIM card before you depart. You might, also ask about USA roaming rates as the charges could be very high!


RENTING A CELL PHONE IN THE USA 


Another option is to purchase a USA compatible cellular telephone rental plan that includes accessories, voicemail, and more. These rental plans can be purchased at retail cell-phone stores, on the Internet, or from some of the rental car agencies. Under such plans, the rental cost of the cellular device can range anywhere from completely free up to $5 to $7 per day. You can expect to pay rather expensive connect-time rates ranging from 70 cents to several dollars per minute for calls within the USA plus extra charges for long-distance and international calls. This may be expensive, but it provides you a very convenient way to stay connected while traveling around the USA.

Prepaid cellular phones are another very convenient way for foreign visitors to stay connected. These “pay-as-you-go” telephones are now available at many phone stores, drug stores, department stores, and shopping-mall kiosks. The prices of the phones are as low as $29.99, but you must prepay the per-minute calling charges. You can easily purchase additional minutes by using your bank credit card at any later time. If you shop around, you can find some of these phones with very competitive international calling rates.


PUBLIC PAYPHONE AND HOTEL TELEPHONES 


Public pay telephones that accept coins, calling cards or credit cards can be quite expensive.50 cents is typically the minimum charge for a local call with very high long-distance rates. Many pay telephones in the USA now offer English and Spanish language capability. If you must use a public pay telephone, try to find one operated by a major service provider such as Bell Atlantic, Southern Bell, or Pacific Bell as their rates are usually the most reasonable

Most hotels offer free local telephone calls, but typically charge for all long-distance or international calls. At some hotels, these charges may include connect fees or surcharges plus $1 to $3 per-minute for long-distance calls and even more for international calls. If you plan to use a hotel’s telephone service, always check their telephone rates before making a call.


HOW TO MAKE TELEPHONE CALLS IN THE USA


Emergencies requiring the police, the fire department or medical assistance can be reported from any telephone including cell phones. Dial: <911>. This is normally a free call from any pay telephone. That means, no coins or credit cards are needed! In most parts of the USA, the emergency response center will immediately know your location without being told.

US telephone numbers are typically 10 digits long and consist of a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. When dialing a number outside the local area code, you must first dial a 1.

For example: long-distance calls area code number: 1-206-555-1212


MAKING INTERNATIONAL CALLS FROM THE USA 


To place an international call, dial: <011> + country code + city code +number.

Calls to Canada, Puerto Rico, and some Caribbean countries can be completed without the additional prefix or country code. They are the same as any other long distance call placed within the USA. Dial: <1> + area code + number.

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