All about making free calls online
Most mobile providers offer international calling and data plans, but they can get pricey if you’re not careful when you make a call to another country. But if you have a steady broadband or Wi-Fi connection, making free calls online becomes an option too.
In this article you’ll find out how to call someone over the internet at little to no cost and the best ways to catch up with people in your life who don’t do calls over the web.
It may sound complicated, but it’s actually pretty easy to call someone over the Internet, especially when you have a smartphone. And this way you can contact anyone from your computer, even friends or family who don’t use the internet.
How to make online free calls
It doesn’t matter where in the world you are as long as you and the person you’re calling are online. Of course, all you’ll have to pay are the web access costs (if any). There are a number of different ways to make online calls via the internet. Each option requires a stable net connection and a device (a computer, a smartphone or your landline phone). Of course, some apps are cheaper than others, and a few of them don’t even require you to be connected over the Internet. Instead, they use local landlines, thus shortcutting any international calling costs.
First, you’ll have to see which service you and your loved ones use, because using the same app means you’ll get more free calling time. Your key options are as follows:
- Smartphone to smartphone – this means that you and the person on the other end of the call own a smartphone with web access. It’s the most common choice in relation to making free internet calls to cell phones.
- Computer to computer – some web apps or services allow users to make free calls as long as both the caller and the recipient use the same service.
- PC to phone or the other way around – cross-platform free calls are possible, as long as both devices use the same service. This means that the same app or service must be installed on the computer and the smartphone. Calling from or to a landline won’t be free unless the number is toll-free. In this case, you’re better off using an override provider.
How free online phone calls work
Voice calling over the internet is made using a VoIP protocol, which is short for “Voice over Internet Protocol”. This feature is mostly used on smart devices and it is included in the tech behind regular phone calls too.
Free online phone calls made using VoIP imply breaking your messages into small packets of data. They are sent through the line and decompressed when they reach the target. This happens with the information sent from both ends, one line being capable of carrying more info than a traditional pipeline.
Local versus international online calls
The biggest advantage of VoIP calls is that they can be used to cut costs both locally and internationally. However, remember to turn your data off while abroad so that you can avoid high costs. Instead, look for cheap or free web access, which you can use to make low-cost or free calls (depending on the service you use). This is a great alternative to expensive international SIM cards and phone hotel bills.
However, bear in mind that you shouldn’t ditch your mobile or landline completely, because there are some drawbacks to free online calls.
All VoIP calls need and internet connection to work. So, if your power is cut or your internet provider breaks, a call won’t be possible anymore.
The quality of your broadband connection influences the call quality. This means that, if your internet is bad, your connection will keep interrupting. And not all VoIP providers allow emergency calling.
How to make free local calls online
The easiest way to call someone in the same country is by using a free app like WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime, Viber or Rebtel. Of course, both users will need an account on the same app and a stable broadband connection.
Obviously, some services will charge you when making a cross-platform call. To avoid any unwanted bills, be sure to check any hidden costs before making a call from your PC to a real mobile phone number.
How to make free international calls online
Choosing the right app to make free calls online is a matter of personal preference. The most important thing is to make sure you and the person you call use the same service. Also, remember that using 3G or 4G mobile data can eat at your phone bill. Try to use as much free Wi-Fi as possible.
Whichever type of call you need to make, be sure to check the implied costs. Not all apps are completely free, and not all are free to use everywhere. For example, a Skype call to another user is free anywhere, but to call a local or international landline you would have to pay a fee per minute.
Calling from landlines to computers
It’s not free, but you can use a landline to make cheap calls online. You will need an adapter that you connect to your internet broadband and home phone in order to reroute calls. A subscription is always required and some include the adapter.
Receiving calls over the internet from landlines
Many services let users set up a mobile phone number to receive calls from traditional phones. Some will even throw in an adapter that sends the call directly to your smartphone, bypassing the computer.
Popular apps and services
The obvious choice is Google Voice, which works very well on phones and tablets, as well as on computers. Calling from the US is free when the receiver lives in the US or Canada. However, contacting someone from anywhere else in the world implies costs per minute that can put a dent in your credit card savings. Moreover, all calls also use minutes from your mobile plan, which is not the best option when you have limited funds.
It’s used by millions of people all over the world. It’s no wonder it became one of the best-known apps to make free calls and send messages. It works on PCs, tablets and mobile phones, and, with the right adapter, you’ll be able to make Skype calls using a landline too. And if the person you’re calling uses the app as well, there will be no costs.
However, calling a real phone number is a different story. When you contact a landline or mobile phone, you’ll be charged per minute.
This app is addressed to iPhone, iPad and Mac users, allowing them to make free video calls online to any other app users. Of course, the device has the preinstalled app, so it can be used as soon as you buy it. All it requires is an Apple ID, which you set up in order to use the phone or PC anyway. However, it can consume data, which counts if you’re not using Wi-Fi.
Rebtel – an all-in-one alternative
This app is a well-rounded option that offers free online calls from mobiles to mobiles, PC to mobiles and vice-versa. Plus, you can send messages to other Rebtel users too. Of course, calls are free via the app, but you can also contact non-Rebtel users at a fraction of the cost you would be paying normally by choosing a cheap monthly subscription. The app-to-app Calling function is available in more than 55 countries.
And it doesn’t need an Internet connection to work, because it can connect using local landlines to bounce the signal. This way, international rates are avoided. Plus, users get a stable connection and unlimited calling options for free.
Making free mobile calls without registration or download
Some browser services let visitors make calls over the internet without having to register. The caller simply goes to the web page and follows the instructions, downloading an app or putting in the required information before making a call. There are many free options, like Globephone, where you don’t have to pay. Apps like CitrusTel get you a limited number of minutes before you have to buy credit.
Other web-based calling services let the user make calls without having to download an app. All you have to do is go to the website, enter the phone number you want to call and press the calling button. Of course, you’ll need at least a microphone, to be able to talk to someone on the other end, and a stable internet connection. However, they’re not very safe, as your browser settings can let them read and distribute your data to third-parties.
Making Free International Calls from your Landline
- Traditional carriers offer various international calling plans. Unless you have a special calling plan that offers free international calls each month, you’ll have to pay international rates for calls from your regular landline.
- Some VoIP services use your ‘landline’ phone and you can get international calling using your regular telephone equipment (such as Vonage), but again, a special plan that includes free international calls is usually required.
- Rebtel’s system allows you to call internationally from your regular landline without a special calling plan. When an international number is added to your Rebtel contact list, a local number will be provided for you, so any call you make is charged at a low rate regardless of whether you are calling a dear friend on the other side of the world. There is a free test call offered to pilot the service, thereafter cheap rates apply.