Things have changed a great deal when it comes to making International calls. The only option used to be expensive minutes on a landline to a landline in another country. Then came ‘override’ providers. ‘Override’ providers were phone companies which bought large bundles of international minutes and sold them to you in smaller amounts, at a cut price. Most people knew the service as a ‘calling card’ and got used to typing in long lines of numbers before the phone number they wanted to call, to get the benefit of the reduced rates.
Now, it’s just as cheap, often cheaper, to make international calls from your mobile phone. Here are a few secrets which will help you get in touch with friends and families in other countries without blowing up your bank account.
Here are the tricks you need to know
• Firm up your need:The first thing you’ll need to know,is where you want to call and how long you want to talk. International rates vary by destination (often confusingly so, many websites have long lists of the calling cost per minute to hundreds of places) and the amount you want to talk (the number of minutes involved) can make quite a difference to the bill. Getting clear on these two simple variables will make comparing the options and getting what you need much easier.
• Buy a bundle: By far the cheapest way to make a lot of calls is to buy a prepaid phone plan with International calls included. Lebara are a great example of a phone company (international themselves) which provide excellent value when it comes to plans with International Inclusions. Their range includes options which offer cut priced and even unlimited international calls for an affordable amount each month. Entry pricing for international rates falls every year. Now, most plans costing $30 a month and up come with some level of International facility – although at such a low spend level, that might be limited to the most popular destinations like the UK and USA.
• Cheat the system:There are, of course, free, Internet based phone call options – many even include free video calling options. Most people are familiar with Skype (from Microsoft), Facetime(from Apple) and WhatsApp (from Facebook) all of which provide free VOIP (Voice over IP) calls using your phone’ data connection. Even calling using one of these services over your 3G or 4G data connection is much cheaper than connecting over the phone company voice networks.These services can be a bit scratchy, and you might suffer a drop out here or there. On the other hand, the price is right. Skype can even hook you up to real landlines in another country (as opposed to putting you in touch with a user on an internet connected laptop or smartphone).
• Cheaper than Skype to landlines?: One good piece of information is that there are sometimes options better than Skype for calls which connect your mobile to a landline in another country. Localphone offers calls connected from a laptop to a landline a t rates which are substantially lower than Skype if you’re calling North America (the USA or Canada) and you can use Vyke for pretty much everywhere else.
• When you’re overseas, get a local SIM: Finally, when you’re travelling, think like a local to make international calls. Roaming (how the phone companies describe your calls back home when you’re overseas) is still extremely expensive and best avoided unless the company is paying or you have an emergency. Most airports have phone booths which will sell you a local SIM when you land. A little research, from home, before you get there, can help a lot in securing the best deal.
Summing it all up
International calls are one of the things in life you want to get right. Keeping in touch with family and friends overseas is so important that you don’t want anything – especially anything as trivial as a phone bill – to get in the way of doing it. These trips and ticks should help you focus on the important conversations you need to have and avoid worrying about how much it costs.
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