Sunday, February 6, 2011

5 Ways to Save on International Calls

People who make frequent international phone calls often wonder if they are using the lowest cost product that fits their needs. Many people do not know what is available and often over pay for products that they do not need or fully utilize. We have summarized the following 5 popular ways to save money on international calls for the benefit of these people.

1. VoIP Phone Service

VoIP or broadband phone service providers have calling plans that typically include home phone service and unlimited domestic long distance for a flat monthly fee. Many VoIP Service Providers are starting to include free calls to selected international locations. These can be a good deal for those who make frequent calls to one or more of the international locations included in the call plan. This is typically a good option for someone who already has high speed Internet service, wants home phone service and makes frequent domestic and international long distance calls to the locations covered by the call plan.

Tips: Be sure the countries and type of phone (cell or land line) you call is included in the plan you choose. Calls to cell phones in international locations are often significantly more expensive than calls to landlines and are often not included at no cost with these VoIP call plans. You will need to pay extra for calls to countries or types of phones not covered and we have found that the rates are typically much higher than normal for calls that are not included with the plan. Also, you will need to pay the monthly service fee even if you do not use the service.

2. Phone Cards

Everyone thinks they know about phone cards and some people love them and others think they are a low quality alternative for making long distance calls. In truth, phone cards cover the full spectrum of telecom services and are lower cost and more convenient than any other product for making international calls. You can purchase cheap, low quality phone cards but you can also purchase high quality phone cards that offer a full range of features which make them very easy to use. Visit cheap international calling for more information on phone cards and other prepaid calling products.

Tips: Phone cards usually offer better rates to certain countries and regions of the world so one phone card does not fit all. Therefore, it is better to shop around in order to find the best phone card for your needs. They also tend to have hidden fees or extra charges added to the posted rate on calls so be sure and read the fine print before making a purchase. It is typically better to try a small denomination ($5 to $10 card) before making a large purchase. We think on-line phone cards offer a better deal than those purchased at retail locations. It is easier to compare rates and features on-line when shopping and they can usually be stored safely in an on-line account so there is no fear of loss.

3. PC to Phone Service

PC to phone service like Skype is very popular with students, expats and others who make frequent international calls to other people who also own a computer and have a high speed INTERNET connection. What is commonly called PC to Phone Service can be used to make calls from one PC to another or from a PC to any kind of telephone. Companies like Skype offer free calls from one PC to another but charge a fee on calls made from a PC to a telephone. The rate on PC to Phone calls are typically much higher than those charged using other options so we think this service is great for people who want to make PC to PC calls but there are lower cost options with better quality for people who want to make long distance calls to landlines or cell phones.

Tips: Some countries actively block web based services like PC to Phone or VoIP. In these cases a VPN can be used or another product like callback phone service can be a better option. Also, the call quality using PC to Phone depends on the speed of the INTERNET connection. In some cases call quality can be very high while in other cases it is hard to get a good connection. Use another product if you want to make calls to telephones.

4. Callback Phone Service

In many cases the best international calling product for those living or working overseas is international callback phone service. This service can be used to make cheap international phone calls from any location. There are phone cards that offer a callback feature and there are prepaid callback service providers. The phone cards tend to be better for short term use. In either case, the caller will need to have a telephone available where they can receive a direct incoming call. This can be a land line, mobile phone or even a VoIP phone. To place a call, a caller triggers a callback where a computer calls to the callers pre-set phone number from an international location. When the call is received the caller simply answers the call and dials the phone number they wish to call. In this way the international call is placed from a low cost location like the United States rather than the high cost location where the caller resides.

Tips: A great option for people living or working in a fixed location where international calling is expensive. Calls are made through a low cost third country.

5. International Cell Phone Service

Truly international mobile phones offer convenience and are useful for emergency calling but they do not offer a good deal on international phone calls. What we refer to here are international calling plans for mobile phones. Many people only have mobile phones these days and they soon find it is very expensive to make international calls from mobiles using their local service provider. Phone cards are an option but there are other prepaid calling plans that interface nicely with mobile phones. These still offer great phone card rates on international calls from mobiles but have features that make them much easier to use.

Tips: For international calls from mobile phones in the USA or Canada we tend to prefer the Tel3Advantage prepaid call plan. It has free Apps so it can be used seamlessly with SMART phones allowing international calls can be made directly without dialing any extra numbers.

We hope people can benefit from this information and make wise choices when shopping for international calling products. In any case, shop well and read the fine print before making a purchase. We have heard stories from readers who have been, for example, tied up in long term VoIP contracts and could not get out of them. That is one reason why we tend to prefer prepaid or pay-as-you-go products that have no long term commitment. Simply use them as long as you need than stop when they are no longer needed without any termination fee.

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