Reviewers say ECG offers the best domestic long-distance phone plan for those living in Baby Bell territory, which covers about 85 percent of the United States. Reviewers give ECG especially high scores in customer service -- rare for any service these days. Users most frequently complain that in-state long-distance rates can be high. ECG's cheapest plan -- 2.5 cents per minute for domestic calls -- carries $1.58 in monthly fees and automatically charges your credit or debit card. You can get a pay-by-check plan with a monthly paper bill, but it will cost you extra. One advantage is that while some companies charge you by the minute (e.g. a 61-second call will be billed as two minutes), ECG charges in six-second increments with an 18-second minimum. If you make a lot of international calls, reviews say Telna (*Est. 4.8 cents per minute) may be a better option (though it varies by country). For those living in that 15 percent of the United States outside Baby Bell coverage, reviews recommend Total Call International (*Est. 3.9 cents per minute) .
We found the best reviews at SaveOnPhone.com, because it evaluates pricing and customer service for about 350 long-distance plans. Similar websites either base their ratings strictly by price or don't seem to have done as much hands-on work in determining the quality of customer service. PhoneDog.com isn't the only source for user reviews of long-distance plans, but it has by far the largest sampling, and most of the reviews list pros and cons.
SaveOnPhone.com says it monitors about 350 long-distance plans as the basis for this top 10 list. ECG ranks first based on cost and customer service (including options for paying online or by check for a higher price). The editors highly recommend it for the large part of the United States, serviced by the Baby Bells. TollChaser's reviews give the most accurate cost per minute, as they factor in the fees charged to all subscribers.
Review: Long-Distance Phone Service Comparison, Editors of SaveOnPhone.com
The real benefit of PhoneDog.com is user reviews. More than 200 users give ECG very high average scores overall and in four categories for its Easy 2.5 plan, though some say the in-state rates and rates for Alaska and Hawaii are too high. ECG receives an "outstanding" for its customer service.
Review: ECG Easy 2.5, Editors of and contributors to PhoneDog.com
The prices in the TollChaser.com rankings chart include the universal service fund fees that increase the advertised rates, giving a more accurate picture of the user's actual cost. The chart ranks the ECG 2.5 plan first.
Review: Continental State-to-State Long-Distance Phone Rate Comparison, Editors of TollChaser.com
4. 1+ Call Saver
The site receives commissions from some of the companies listed but claims to be unbiased, and its rankings appear to favor plans that have no monthly fees, even if the per-minute charges are relatively high. ECG ranks first on the chart.
Review: Best Bets : Residential, Editors of 1CallSaver.com
5. My Rate Plan
This website takes your state and required number of long-distance minutes and shows you the best plan for your needs. However, ECG is one of only two companies (along with Pioneer) whose plans they display.
Review: Discount Long Distance, Editors of MyRatePlan.com