Cut the cost of international phone calls
Communicating over the internet isn’t limited to sending emails, instant messages, tweeting or updating your Facebook status - thanks to Voip (voice over internet protocol) it’s possible to make free phone calls via your computer all over the world.
Several companies offer Voip services, but the best known is Skype - it has over 100 million accounts worldwide.
All you need to use Skype is an internet connection and access to a microphone and headphones - then, simply download free Skype software and you’re ready to go.
If the person you are calling also has Skype, then your call won’t cost either of you a penny. You can speak as long as you like, whenever you like, wherever you like.
It’s also possible to call landlines and mobiles using Skype – although this will cost you. You can either do this by buying a monthly subscription, which includes unlimited calls to landlines in selected countries and regions, or by pay-as-you-go credit.
However, Skype might not be the cheapest way to call landlines and mobiles so it’s worth comparing the costs with your landline and mobile first. You should also compare costs to other Voip providers, such as Sipgate and Yahoo.
Bear in mind that you can’t call the emergency services over Voip.
Other ways to call abroad
Voip is particularly popular with people who want to call friends or family living overseas and (as long as both parties have access to the internet) it’s completely free.
However, there are other ways you can call abroad. For example, website Jajah.com allows you to call phones in Europe and Africa either online (for free) or from your phone at cheap rates.
Rebtel.com, meanwhile, offers international calls at local rates. You sign up for a free account with your phone number, then enter the number you wish to call. You’ll receive a unique local number back, which is charged at local rate.
You could also use the services of what are known as simply dial providers. In short, these temporarily override your landline provider and charge you at a reduced rate.
While these can cut the cost of calling abroad, some providers require you to set up an account and most start charging you from the minute the phone connects – rather than when the recipient of your call picks up.
Examples include Simply-dial.co.uk, Telesavers and 18185.co.uk. If you’ve used this type of service, share your views and tips in the comment boxes below.
Mobile phone calls
When you're travelling overseas, then you'll have to pay to receive and make calls on your mobile phone. This is because you're UK network has to pay the foreign network to put calls through - this cost is passed onto you rather than the person dialling or picking up in the UK.
Pay-as-you-go mobile phones tend to cost more than calls made through a mobile phone contract. You should always try to find out how much it will cost to call home before you head off overseas - it may surprise you. Calls, texts and mobile phone internet access made while abroad are rarely included in your free minutes.
Moneysupermarket.com offers a table of the cost of calls from different networks, so it's worth looking at this first to see how the cost compares.
While new regulations on roaming charges mean mobile phone providers have had to reduce the cost of oversea calls, it can still be pricey.
If you are calling home while abroad then there are a number of ways you can cut the cost.
Mobile phone users should remember that it costs more to make calls than to receive them. It’s also free to receive texts, but not to send them. Within the EU, the cost of sending a text can be no more than 11p per text sent.
A trap that many people fall into is to leave their voicemail on while they are abroad – this is an expensive mistake as most networks will charge you for receiving the call, whether your phone is on or off.
Either switch off your voicemail or change your message asking people to text instead or only leave a short message if absolutely necessary.
You could make cheaper oversea calls while abroad by going online. But if this isn’t possible, then there are other options:
- Buy a local SIM card – compare prices on websites such as UK2Abroad.com, 0044.co.uk and Sim4travel.com
- Buy an international SIM card or ask your provider if it can offer you a mobile roaming add-on bundleRemember, in order to use a different SIM card, your phone must be unlocked. You will also need to pass on the new number to people who might wish to get in touch
- Use Vyke Callback – this claims to cut the cost of international calls by up to 75%
- Purchase a phonecard for calling home – this is usually cheaper than using your mobileUse a payphone - it may seem a little old-fashioned, but it might well be cheaper