Three Simple Ways to Cut the Cost of International Calls
June 21, 2013 1:01 PM

Have you ever received your phone bill only to be hit with a nasty shock? Most of us have seriously underestimated the cost of international phone calls at one point or another. It turns out that five-minute call to your uncle in Singapore or best friend in Australia can cost a serious bundle! Rather than being blindsided by the cost of international calls, you can budget for them in advance. There are plenty of ways to keep in touch with friends and family living overseas at a discounted rate, if you know where to look. By choosing one of these three tips, you can hear your loved ones' voices without relying solely on Facebook or email.

Voice over Internet Protocol

One of the easiest and cheapest ways to make international calls is through Voice over internet protocol (or VOIP) services. The best known of these is Skype, which currently has over 100 million global accounts and is growing every day. However, Google, Yahoo, and Sipgate all have competing services. If you use the same service as your contact, you can speak over the internet without spending a cent. You can also call mobile phones or landlines using services like Skype, but this will cost you a small charge. Generally, you can register for an account and top up your credit to cover the cost of these calls, seeing exactly how much is being spent on your screen as you chat away. Some services also offer subscription services. One thing to keep in mind is that you can't call local emergency services over Skype or other providers.

Prepaid Phones and Local SIM Cards

There's something to be said for having a phone, either when travelling or when placing calls overseas. The connection is usually better than via an internet connection, and you can place emergency phone calls when necessary. However, mobile rates can be sky high if you're not careful. If you're signing a new contract, compare overseas rates from several different providers to find the best deal. Comparison tools like are a good resource to see how different providers stack up. Travellers may wish to consider purchasing international SIM cards, which can be far lower in cost than your own provider. To use an international SIM card, you'll need to unlock your phone first and pass on your new number to your contacts.

Dial Providers

In addition to making cheap international calls with Lebara or other SIM card providers, you can use dial provider websites. These work by overriding your regular landline provider and charging you a lower rate. Most of these require you to register and set up an account, and they also start charging you whether or not your contact picks up the phone on the other end.

Finally, the old-fashioned method is still a valid one. You can purchase international phone cards at airports or corner shops, which can be used from your landline or a payphone. These can still provide the lowest rate outside of a service like Skype, in some cases. The best rates will depend on your location and where you are calling, so it's best to shop around to lower your phone bill.

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