Calling friends and family back home when you’re travelling is more affordable than ever and often even free. So with many options out there, which is best for providing you with clear quality and no hefty rates? Here is a rundown of the most used and reliable ways to call to and from abroad:
Calls from roaming can get quite expensive if you’re calling both locally and internationally. Depending on the country you’re in, your operator may or may not have an agreement with the local network, meaning the rates can be high or very high. The best way to avoid these costs is to stop using your phone while in roaming altogether. If roaming is your only option, have your friends call you – you will get charged a much lower rate per received call and your contact will pay the costs of a local call.
Calls from hotels can greatly vary in terms of rates, depending on the hotel you’re staying at. To make sure you won’t end up with an inflated bill, check at your hotel’s reception for the rates for local and international calls. If international calls are too pricey, get an international phone card and use the phone from your hotel room to access a local access number from your phone card provider. Local calls at hotels are usually free or rarely overcharged and phone card rates are sensibly lower than direct international calls.
Calls from payphones can be quite convenient, as long as you find the right phone card. When you don’t have a phone card with you or a working internet connection, payphones are the next best alternative for international calls. Exercise some caution when using payphones since the rates advertised can often come accompanied by some hidden rates such as a connection fee.
Call online is often free for PC-to-PC calls if you have a microphone, headphones and great internet speed. It’s especially useful when you’re in a similar timezone with your contacts, have the same app installed (e.g. Skype) and your hotel doesn’t overcharge you for an internet connection. When you’re the one with a PC and internet connection and you want to call landlines or mobiles, using a phone card is still an option. Some providers have apps that allow you to place calls to regular phones at some very low rates without needing an actual phone. For example, the PC-2-Phone app is a great tool for international calls.
Calls from smartphones are different from calls from mobiles since you have a mini-computer at your disposal. You can use a smartphone as a regular PC – install a calling app, connect to a 3G or Wi-Fi network and call your contacts without having to pay roaming fees. Many of the calling apps available on PCs or Mac are also available for your smartphone, offering free calls to other users that have the same app installed.
What is your go-to option for calling abroad?