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Phone Home: Tips for Making Phone Calls Abroad

The last thing you want when you’re traveling is a giant phone bill. Unfortunately many phone companies often charge expensive rates for making international calls and using data to surf the Internet.

I should know. Despite being aware of the costs involved and telling myself I won’t use my phone abroad, I’ve slipped and hit the dial button. I find myself thinking; “What harm can a phone call and a few texts do?” or even worse; “I’ll just turn the data roaming on for 2 minutes so I can upload this Tweet.”

It’s nice to be able to keep in touch with your friends and family on the road, so how can you make phone calls cheaply without spending lots of money? Here are my tips for making phone calls abroad.

Phone Boxes London

photo by markhillary on flickr

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are a great way to make free phone calls, so long as you have a Wi-Fi/3G connection. There are various different apps that let you do this.

Rebtel allows you to make free calls from Android phones iPhones and Windows computers to other Rebtel users using their downloadable app. It’s really easy to use since you can call your friend’s normal phone numbers through the app. If you’re calling someone who doesn’t have Rebtel, you can still get super cheap international rates.

Don’t Have a Smart Phone?

If you don’t have a fancy pants smartphone you could use payphones or international calling cards, but there are other methods that don’t involve long complicated pins. Rebtel also offers affordable international calling by using the Internet to connect your calls, turning your international call into a local one. You sign up for their service, add credit to your account using your debit/credit card, then simply add the number for the friend you want to call onto your Rebtel contact list. Rebtel will assign a local number for you to use when calling your contact, so you can save it to your phone and use that one instead of their regular international number.  It works with any type of phone, landline or mobile, so you don’t have to possess a smartphone to use it.

Local SIM Cards

If you’re going to be spending a long time in a particular country, it might be worth getting a local pay-as-you-go Sim card so you can make local calls at the standard rate and use data. Of course you’ll need an unlocked phone for this and you’ll have a different phone number, plus international calls would still cost you.

Ask Your Provider about Bolt-ons

Many mobile phone providers have some sort of bolt-on tarrif that can be added to your existing contract.Obviously it adds an extra cost to your bill, but if you’re a frequent traveller and you plan on making lots of international calls, then it might be something to think about. Just don’t sign up for a bolt-on if you’re not going to use it!

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One Response to Phone Home: Tips for Making Phone Calls Abroad

  1. Traveling Well For Less April 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    How does Rebtel compare with Skype?

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