How Much Does a Phone Call From Jail Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 9, 2018

A phone call from jail allows the inmates talk to their friends and family even while incarcerated, and if you know of someone who is in jail, you probably already know that they are not able to make phone calls for free.

The calls that are made from jail are collect calls, also known as reverse charge calls.

This means that the person who receives the phone call is charged for the minutes rather than the one making the phone call.  This way, the jail does not have to pay a dime for the prisoners to make a phone call, but the ones receiving the call will be charged instead.

The cost of making a phone call from jail will depend on the jail and the length of the phone call.

Old Geelong Gaol 10 by jmiller291, on Flickr
Old Geelong Gaol 10” (CC BY 2.0) by jmiller291

How much does it cost to make a phone call from jail?

The FCC, as of 2016, issued a notice reminding phone companies that rate caps for a prepaid call is $0.21 per minute, while a $0.25 per minute fee would apply to in-state calls.  In most jails, the rates range from $0.14 to $0.22 per minute.

Securus, one of the most popular phone systems jails and prisons work with, offers a rate calculator on their official website to offer you an idea of what you may pay to receive a phone call.

Phone calls from jail overview

There are two ways to receive a call from an inmate:  either via by calling collect or with a third-party vendor that supplies pre-paid calling accounts.

Since every jail has different rules, some will limit the minutes and others may record the calls.  Typical phone calls will be made from a community area that is under strict guard supervision.  Most of these phone calls are monitored by the jail personnel.

Most prison systems in the United States will either work with Securus or Global Tel Link.

What are the extra costs?

Making payments by phone or via a live operator can incur additional fees, often $3 to $6.  Like the caps mentioned prior, there are monetary caps for payment fees as well.  Some providers even charge a fee if you want a paper bill instead of an electronic version.

Tips to know

Before you accept a collect call from someone in jail, try to figure out what the rates are going to be.  This information can either be found on their website or by calling the prison directly for more information.  If an inmate does call you collect, you will be responsible for the charges on your next cell phone bill.

See if there are prepaid phone card systems available that the jail works with.  This will make it much more convenient so that your phone company does not have to adjust your bill every month.  If prepaid phone cards are available, look into rates to see which route is best to take.

In jail, inmates are often only able to call five to 10 people on their list.

Be sure to know the prison rules when expecting a call.  All prisons will have their own rules when it comes to an inmate making a phone call.

How can I save money?

If the jail allows it, consider buying them a calling card to cut back on their costs.  Calling cards will always be a cheaper option when compared to calling collect.

PrisonPro.com recommends setting up a Google Voice number that has a local area code to the prison’s area.  Since calling a local number is often cheaper than calling an area code out range, this is a way to bring the costs down.  With a Google Voice number, you will set it up in a way to forward that number to your cell phone or landline.


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