Making Phone Calls Abroad
Unless your bill is paid for by somebody else you’re probably wanting to avoid using your UK mobile phone abroad.
Phone charges can be extortionate for using your UK mobile outside of the UK. Here are some basic tips when taking your mobile phone abroad
Top tips for avoiding mobile charges abroad
There are 6 key things you should know before you go abroad with your mobile phone.
Our top tips are:
Always remember to turn off data roaming if you have a phone capable of connecting to the internet (iPhone, Blackberry, HTC, etc).
Even if you do not use the phone to access the internet knowingly the phone will connect itself without you realising and the charges for this quickly add up.
If you turn off data roaming you can still use your phone but it will not connect to the internet.
If someone rings you while you’re abroad and you answer the call you will be charged. The person ringing you will not be charged for the fact you’re abroad, you are the one paying the charges.
Many foreign phone companies will charge you a minimum rate of about 50-75p every time you connect a call, either from making or receiving.
This means if you ring someone and their voicemail answers you will be charged about 50p even if you hang up straight away so be careful.
If you check your voicemail, you will be charged.
Also, it's worth knowing:
- Receiving text messages is free.
- Sending text messages is not free but the cost can be lower than making a phone call.
- Using wireless is free on your phone - use this over mobile roaming. Using wireless uses your hotel/apartment's wifi signal, which is free to use abroad.
Different phone companies have different charges for making calls abroad and it can also depend on the countries that you are visiting.
Using the internet to make phone calls from abroad
VOIP (Voice over IP) is a fantastic innovation for people wanting to make reasonably priced phone calls home from abroad.
Skype is the most well know VOIP service provider but there are other options including:
- Yahoo messenger
How do I use VOIP?
Firstly you have to create an account with one of the providers. Skype is the most well known so if you’re new to VOIP you may want to start with Skype.
You have to be using a computer or a mobile internet device to login to your VOIP provider and then using a headset / microphone you can make phone calls to anywhere in the world including mobiles and the prices are very very reasonable.
Skype’s pay as you go rate starts from about 1.4p/min for landlines and mobiles worldwide. This is for a pay as you go service. Skype also offer a subscription based service. See their website for more details.
You can also call other people using Skype for free if they’re online and this includes a webcam call if you have a webcam available.
Lastly, Skype can even be used to send text messages to mobiles around the world (5.6p to a UK mobile) for a very low cost, although these messages cannot be replied to by the receipient.
Travelex Foreign Currency
- Commission free
- Guaranteed to be the cheapest
- Refunds the difference
Using Skype with your smart phone
If you have a smart phone, such as an iPhone, then you can download a Skype application.
When you connect your smart phone to a wireless internet network you then then make calls from your phone using Skype.
This means you can use your phone but without using a phone network so you only pay for the skype calls. This is an excellent way to make cheap calls when abroad, especially given how common place wireless networks are in hotels, hostels and restaurants around the world.