SAN FRANCISCO -- Visa U.S.A. and Sprint Corp. jointly announced a long-distance calling service that they said will be up to 25% cheaper than American Telephone and Telegraph Co. credit card rates.

A caller can charge calls to Visa by dialing the "10VSA" access code. Caller then enter their home phone number plus a four-digit authorization code. Charges can be applied to Visa bills, or callers can pay Sprint directly.

Robert B. McKinley of Ram Research Corp., Frederick Md., said the new venture "certainly is a very solid answer" to AT&T, which introduced credit cards with a calling feature in 1990. Banks already offer a credit card calling service that uses the MCI Communications Corp. network.

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