Today, many programs help you make free or cheap international calls from your mobile phone, tablet or laptop. Some only allow free local communications using Wi-Fi while others have also the option to purchase international calling credits to help you make calls to landlines and mobiles abroad at low rates.
Using WIFI or an international calling card for international calls is something that I’ve found to be the best and most efficient.
In terms of free WIFI solutions, your options are near endless with free VoIP Calling Apps such as Skype, WhatsApp, Viber Skype and Yabb messaging apps which can allow you to make overseas calls to top tier countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, China, Hong Kong, South Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand.
By the way if you are looking for a great guide on calling Australia from NZ check out this guide.
But what about international calling cards?
While I do live the free options in most cases I prefer to just call up my friends, family and contacts on either their mobile or landline, …yes people are still using a landline.
International calling cards allows me to do that quickly and easily and at really great rates compared to the giant telcos.
Why would I use an international calling card when free VoIP options are available?
Landlines and mobiles
In a lot of cases when I’m travelling I’m in places where the main form of communication is through either a landline or mobile. If I’m in those top tier countries then I may opt for the free VoIP options but to be honest, it is just so much easier to click on contacts and then just call someone.
Pro tip: when using international calling cards you typically need to type a long list of numbers for example:
- Call the local access number – this is a local number that “plugs” you into the service and essentially hides your international call from your telco provider, as far as they are concerned, you are just making a local call, but in reality you are using this local number to route your call internationally. Don’t worry this isn’t illegal, it is a legitimate service.
- Enter in your PIN – your PIN is attached to your call credit balance and also your user profile should you need to contact their customer support for anything.
- Dial the international number – the fun continues because now you get to call the international number.
At face value you might be thinking that is a lot of work, and I would agree somewhat, a small price to pay for the savings on international calls.
But there are some things you can do to make this easy.
Set up pinless dialling, this means that you only need to complete steps 1 and 3, the system will recognize your phone number and key it in for you.
The best option though is to simply program these steps into your mobile phone so that all you need to do is look up the person you wish to call and click “call” and your mobile will run through the entire process for you.
You do this by editing your contact, and entering in each stage followed by a comma ”,” for example:
aaaaaaaa,bbbbbbbbbb,cccccccccccccc – where ‘a’ is the local access number, ‘b’ is the PIN and ‘c’ is the international number.
Enter this into the phone number field and save.
Now when you want to call that person your mobile will seamlessly dial all of those numbers for you!
Some of the people I talk to are stuck in their ways whether it be that they only want to talk on their landlines or mobile phones or they have a specific app that they use and they are not willing to install one that I’m using.
I’m in a similar boat, I don’t want to have a dozen different calling apps on my phone, I’d rather just call them directly on their phone – so much easier.
One of the main issues I run into with VoIP options like video calling is that even when calling to the top tier countries I can still run into issues like, echoing, lag, video freezing, poor quality audio and video, etc.
VoIP is out of the question when I’m calling friends in developing countries, it’s just not worth the frustration so in this case using an international calling card is incredibly effective.
If I had to pick just one communication tool it would be the international calling card, period.
While some people use apps, everyone has a mobile phone or at least a landline which means I can call 100% of the people I want to speak with.
International calling cards are cheap
For a few cents per minute I can call anyone of my contacts in virtual any country. Of course the more under developed the country the higher pricing is going to be but it is still head and shoulders cheaper than using my current mobile plan.
When purchasing an international calling card you need to be aware of the typical rip off scenarios that can happen so before you purchase a calling card you want to ask the retailer a few questions.
- What is the cost per minute?
- Does this calling card have minute rounding?
- What happens if I experience technical issues using this calling card?
- Is this card disposable or rechargeable?
- If this card expires what happens to my money?
- When does it expire?
- Are there any hidden fees? For example, daily service or admin fees.
By asking these questions you’ll be able to dramatically cut down on the chances of being ripped off by international calling card vendors.
I’m a big fan of using calling apps but if I had to pick one calling method it is going to be the international calling card for its ability to contact everyone and for the cheap rates.