When you need to make an international phone call, the last thing you need to worry about is how much it will end up costing you. No-one likes to open their phone bill and suffer instant sticker shock at the price of their last international call! Understanding the pros and cons of different international calling plans can help you keep your costs low while receiving high quality service.
Traditional Ways to Make International Phone Calls
Before mobile phones and VoIP options that made it possible to turn any PC into a phone, the only way to place international calls was the old-fashioned way from a land-based line using a traditional carrier. This is a four step process:
1. Dial an exit code. For calls placed from the US and most US territories and possessions, this number is 011.
2. Dial a country code. This is the code assigned to the country the call is being placed to. This is normally a two or three digit number, although some countries only use one digit and satellite phones may require a four digit number.
3. Dial the area code for the region / city. This number may be from one to four digits long.
4. Dial the phone number belonging to the party the call is being placed to. This will normally be between four and seven digits in length.
If you call internationally on a regular basis (to keep in touch with family, for example) your traditional phone carrier will probably try to set you up with an international calling plan. Most companies (such as AT&T) have fairly reasonable rates for calls from the US to Canada or the UK, with higher rates from Mexico, India, or Cuba.
Mobile Phones and International Calling
Many mobile phones now have applications which can be used to make international phone calls without going through the lengthy four step process each time. Simply program the number and use an international calling app to place calls with a single push of a button. This option can offer a more reasonable rate than landline calls if you are using WiFi; 3G or 4G phones may incur additional charges, however, so make sure you read the fine print. You can also investigate callback services, which allow you to dial a preset number (much like a calling card number) then hang up and wait for the cheapest provider at that given moment to call you back with a dial tone so you can make an international phone call at the best rate.
Making International Phone Calls With a Calling Card
Calling cards require you to enter the card number, then follow the four steps above to make the international call, making them a hassle to use - but for some, this is the best option. Pre-paid cards can be used to make international calls from almost any phone, but rates will vary depending on the type of card used, what country is being called, and even whether you are calling a landline or a mobile phone. For those who need to occasionally make a lengthy international phone call, calling cards are a fairly good option; but be aware that most have hidden fees. They may round up minutes on a 3-5 minute basis, deduct a weekly fee from the card balance, and in some cases charge a connection fee, making calling cards a bad choice for frequent international calls.
Make International Phone Calls with VoIP
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) has become a preferred way to make an internationals phone call, as you can prepay to your account or sign up for a monthly plan. Depending on what nation you wish to call, pricing can range from a few cents per minute up to a dollar or more. Skype and Google Voice are two popular VoIP providers, and allow users to make calls from their PC to a landline or mobile, or from PC to PC.
Rebtel Can Make an International Phone Call Free in Some Cases!
Rebtel users can place calls to other Rebtel users anywhere in the world for free. You can also make international phone calls to landlines or mobile phones for a flat per minute rate, with no hidden recurring charges, connection fees, or outrageous rounding - Rebtel rounds to the nearest minute, not up to 3 or 5 minutes. Calls to India, Mexico and even Cuba can be hassle free.
Don’t let confusion about procedures, rates and fees stop you when you need to make an international phone call. Use a company that gives you clear rates with no hidden charges, and lets you call anywhere in the world, anytime.