Three Ways to Make Jail Calls Cheaper

Telephone calls are a lifeline between inmates and their families. Just hearing each other’s voices helps ease the tension and anxiety surrounding incarceration. As nice as it is to get those calls, they can get expensive. The following three ideas can make the calls fit your budget better.

Avoid Peak Hours for Collect Calls

Many telephone companies have higher collect call rates during certain times of the day, evening or week. For example, your company might charge more for collect calls on Saturdays than any other day of the week, or prices might rise during business hours.

If your inmate calls collect from the jail, contact your phone company and ask for specifics about rates and times that are cheapest. Once you have established the rates, ask your inmate to call during the less expensive hours.

If your inmate is at a facility that only allows access to the phones during the expensive time frames, call other telephone carriers and find out if it would be worth it to change companies. Make sure you aren’t under a contract before making the move, or you could pay an early termination fee.

Only Pay for Calls to Your Phone Number

Most jails have a third-party company that allows you to open an account and put money in it so your inmate can call you. If they offer a choice between only attaching your number to the account and allowing the inmate to use funds to call others as well, choose the first option.

Inmates get bored and make calls. Your money will go much further if you are only paying for calls to your phone. If others want to speak to the inmate, they can fund their own account. For the occasional times you want to pay for a family member to talk to the inmate, let them come to your house when the inmate calls.

Get a Cheap Cell Phone

Buy a cheap, prepaid cell phone with the cheapest unlimited minutes plan available. When you activate the phone, request that the company give you a phone number with the same area code that the jail has. Call the jail and verify that area code. Don’t assume by the address that you know the area code.

Once you get the phone activated, the calls coming to the cell phone will be local, which are much less expensive, which means your money goes further.

Remember, cells cannot accept traditional collect calls. Only use this method if the jail has a third-party company you put funds into, or the inmate can purchase phone cards through commissary.

In the news: A price too high for calls from jail

Final thoughts: Jail calls are never going to be cheap, but they are important to you and the inmate. Getting the best value for your phone call dollar helps you to accept more calls.

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writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.