If you want to know how to make cheap international phone calls, read on for our top tips.
Get your friends to call you – for a penny
Calling home from a landline or a mobile phone can be expensive, but there’s a hack that you can take advantage of if you want to enjoy international phone calls. With companies such as Planet Numbers, you can type in a simple access code before dialling a number, and then make calls for just a penny or two per minute. It’s much more cost-effective than buying an international calling card and allows you to talk for as long as you’d like, without worrying about an expensive phone bill.
There is a catch to this service, though, and it’s that you need to call the unique access code from the UK. Therefore, ask your friends to call you from the UK, and you’ll be able to take advantage of this international calling method without racking up an expensive bill.
Buy a local SIM card
If you have an unlocked mobile phone (that is, a phone that can be used on any carrier or mobile phone network), then this tip is for you. It’s possible to buy a local SIM card from the country you’re visiting on a ‘rental’ or pay as you go basis. It’s typically cheaper than using your phone contract and allows you to make local calls cheaply.
One caveat to bear in mind, however, is that many mobile phones are locked to a particular carrier, so you should check before your travels to ensure yours isn’t. Money Saving Expert has a comprehensive guide to unlocking your smartphone, but take note that you may need to pay an unlocking fee or wait up to seven days before you can insert another SIM card.
One drawback of buying a local SIM card, however, is that you will need to tell your friends and family about your new, temporary number. It may also mean that they will be subject to international phone call charges if they’re calling from the United Kingdom – and you could be subject to the same charges if you’re calling home. Read the fees, terms and conditions of your international carrier before buying a local SIM card to ensure it’s worth your money.
Use the internet
Another way to call home is to use the internet. Internet-based services such as Skype, WhatsApp and Google Hangouts allow you to make international calls from anywhere in the world, and they’re free to use provided you have internet access. Before travelling, send your friends and family an email with your Skype username, and let them know the times you’ll be available for a chat – time-zones can make overseas communication difficult!
While voice over IP (VoIP) systems are free to use, they do require internet access. Typically, 3G and 4G internet abroad is expensive, so only use these services if you’re connected to a Wi-Fi signal. Tech Advisor offers information on using a 3G signal abroad if there’s no Wi-Fi access available, but bear in mind that this method will be more expensive than the options we have mentioned previously.
There you have it – three of the best ways to make an international call while you’re away from home. By planning in advance, you’ll be able to take advantage of our top tips and avoid paying too much for a quick catch-up with your loved ones.