Pioneer (Est. 2.7 cents per minute) is one of the oldest long-distance companies for those living in much of the United States, and it competes well with ECG, the top-rated long-distance company. While Pioneer has a low 2.7-cent state-to-state rate, reviewers point to the company's one-minute billing increments as its major drawback -- in other words, a call lasting one minute and one second gets billed at two minutes.
One-minute increments not liked. Pioneer is mentioned frequently in reviews of long-distance services. However, our most reliable reviewers rated ECG higher than Pioneer. These reviewers don't like that Pioneer bills in 60-second increments, which means that if you make a 10-second call, you are billed for a full minute. Pioneer does offer a plan with six-second increments, but the charge is 3.25 cents per minute rather than 2.7 cents. On the other hand, calls between Pioneer customers are a mere 1.9 cents a minute. Paper billing is an extra $2 per month, though this is waived for bills over $20.
Average customer support. As with ECG, your location must be served by a current or former Baby Bell company (like Verizon or AT&T), so about 15 percent of the country won't be able to access Pioneer. Customer service is available by toll-free phone Monday to Friday, or anytime by email or fax.
SaveOnPhone.com says it monitors about 350 long-distance plans as the basis for this top 10 list. Pioneer ranks second, based on cost, customer service and the company's special rates for calls between Pioneer subscribers.
Review: Long-Distance Phone Service Comparison, Editors of SaveOnPhone.com, Not dated
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 Pioneer's Rate Buster plan second and its Talk Cents plan seventh.
Review: Continental State-to-State Long Distance Phone Rate Comparison, Editors of TollChaser.com, Not dated
Phone professional Andy Gray maintains this website dedicated to cheap phone services, including long-distance, VoIP and toll-free number providers. Comparison charts are provided. Pioneer gets an Editor's Choice designation for its good overall rates and customer service.
Review: Long Distance Comparison and Reviews, Andy Gray, Not dated
Rated solely on cost, Pioneer comes in at first in Calling-Plans.com's list of long-distance phone providers.
Review: Cheap Long Distance Phone Plans, Editors of Calling-Plans.com, Not dated