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Wouldn’t it be great to live in the same place as all of your friends and family? You’d get to see everyone any time you wished and would automatically save heaps of money on phone bills. Yet many of us have friends who have moved across the ocean or family living several time zones away. Although it’s nice to have an excuse to travel and visit them, you’ll often pay the price to stay in touch. If your phone bills have been sky-high lately, you’ll want to think about incorporating the following money-saving tips into your communication strategy.
1. Use Voice over Internet Protocol Services
If both you and your contact have an internet connection, you can use Voice over Internet Protocol services like Skype, Vonage, or Rebtel to make calls over the computer. These are free of charge if you’re both using the same service, with features like video chat as an added bonus. You can also call both landlines and mobile phones abroad, for a low per-minute rate. Some services offer subscription plans. For example, Vonage offers unlimited international calls starting at £6.99 per month. Make sure you have a good internet connection though! If you don’t, the calls could stutter or disconnect, so have a look at what sort of cable or satellite internet options are available in your area if you think your connection may need improving.
2. Sign up for an International Package
Perhaps the simplest way to reduce your bills if you still want to use your landline is to ask about adding an international calling package to your list of regular services. These start at quite low prices, allowing you to place calls to any country on the list of destinations. You’ll want to shop around to see what different providers offer in order to find the best rates, but these plans can be a simple and cost-effective way to lower your bills.
3. Make Prepaid Phone Calls
Many mobile providers offer a range of options for placing international calls, including prepaid or SIM-only options. For instance, you can use free SIM cards with Lebara to call a variety of international destinations, paying in advance so that you know you won’t go over your budget. In addition to making cheap phone calls with Lebara, providers like Orange and Virgin Mobile also offer prepaid options to help you place calls abroad at lower rates.
4. Purchase International Calling Cards
One of the most traditional ways to dial abroad, international calling cards still offer fairly competitive rates. These charge you as little as a penny per minute, and are available from supermarkets and convenience stores in most countries. They’re usually preloaded so that you can use them immediately, which is useful if you’re travelling and need to call home.
5. Read the Fine Print
No matter which of these plans you’ve chosen to save money, you’ll need to compare the rates, terms and conditions carefully because these can vary widely. International packages may not include the destinations you need, or you may get charged extra administration fees when you use your calling card.
By reading the fine print and shopping around for the best international rates, you can help stay in touch with loved ones no matter where in the world they may be.
Photo attribution: Matthias Ripp