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How to Save Money on International Long Distance Phone Calls

Posted By Guest Contributor On 10/29/2009 @ 12:05 pm In Frugal Living | 21 Comments

Calling family and friends overseas is very affordable and very easy, if done correctly. In this article I am going to reveal three affordable international long distance calling options to the old expensive standby, direct dialing. I’ve been doing a lot of research in this for my own needs so I hope you find this article valuable. Each option has the potential to save you more and more money, though sometimes you have to sacrifice a bit of convenience. Naturally, it’s always easiest to pick up the phone can call directly, instead of using a phone card, but only one of those two options is used by millions of people every week at a savings of up to 95% on every international phone call.

Why is this post focused on international long distance calls? Today, very few people have to pay extra for a domestic long distance call that there really is no incremental cost for a domestic long distance phone call. Cell phones charge by the minute, with no consideration of local or long distance. For that reason, we’ve ignored the domestic long distance calls.

Direct Dialing

Direct dialing is the simplest of the options but the most expensive. It’s as simple as picking up a phone (landline or mobile) and dialing an international phone number to which you want to be connected. It’s easy right? No cards to deal with, nothing to hook up, just dial the numbers and go. However, this level of convenience comes with a very heavy cost.

Traditional long distance providers and most mobile service providers simply cannot compete on international rates because they have huge fixed-costs and a bevy of related per-call-costs. You can expect international calling rates in excess of $1.00/min (USD) when you direct dial. Of course, rates do vary and you should check rates offered by your provider before making an international phone call.

Cheaper International Long Distance Calling Options

For many, the majority of international phone calls are made via:

  1. By Computer
  2. By Mobile Phone
  3. With a Calling Card

1. By Computer

Connecting with family and friends overseas by computer is convenient for many people and can be as easy as directly dialing, if you don’t mind being tethered to your computer. Making a phone call from a computer is ideal for people who regularly work from a newer computer with a high-speed (broadband) Internet connection and want decent international rates. Skype is probably the most well-known of the computer to phone calling options available and the rates cited in the table below are Skype Out rates.

Tip: If computer-to-phone dialing is appealing, consider purchasing a computer-to-phone calling plan with international rate accessibility. This will allow you to call landlines and mobile phones from your computer and will give you access to lower international rates. You will need a good microphone and speakers or headset to make a computer-to-phone call.

2. Mobile Phone

Connecting with family and friends overseas is very convenient and is as easy as directly dialing the phone number for the person you want to call. And, being free from a fixed wire/line gives you the additional convenience of being able to make international phone calls from virtually anywhere your mobile service is available.

Tip: If using a mobile phone to make international calls is appealing, consider purchasing an international calling plan from your mobile service provider for an additional monthly fee + lower international rates, or a prepaid calling card to enjoy even lower rates.

3. Calling Card

Calling cards have been popular for decades as the most affordable way to make an international phone call. While it’s the least convenient of the other options, if you don’t mind being attached to a computer, you are rewarded with much cheaper rates (as the table below will attest to). With a calling card, you dial an access phone number, enter in your PIN number, and then the phone number. You can now use most calling cards [3] with virtually any phone. Calling cards are ideal for those wanting the very best rates, allowing them to save up to 95%.

Tip: If you want a calling card, consider purchasing one offering convenience features, like PINless dialing (no need to dial a PIN number), Rechargeable (add more minutes to your card) or Speed Dial (store phone numbers you call to the most). It is also very important to look for a company that offers a calling card guarantee because many don’t.

Now that you know three alternative ways to make international calls to expensive direct dialing, let’s take a look at the typical rates. These rates do differ significantly, so be sure to consider the convenience of each option against the rates to decide which is the best for you.

International Long Distance Rates

The Rate Comparison Chart (below) assumes that your international call will be dialed from the Continental USA and rates are per minute.

Country
Calling Card*
Computer to Phone**
Mobile Phone***
Call
Landline
Call
Mobile
Call
Landline
Call
Mobile
Call
Landline
Call
Mobile
 Australia

1.2¢

5.9¢

2.1¢

20.3¢

7.0¢

23.0¢

 Brazil

1.1¢

6.3¢

2.6¢

21.3¢

15.0¢

32.0¢

 Colombia

1.1¢

4.0¢

5.1¢

9.9¢

17.0¢

22.0¢

 Hong Kong

1.0¢

1.0¢

2.1¢

2.1¢

9.0¢

17.0¢

 India

2.0¢

2.0¢

9.2¢

9.2¢

29.0¢

30.0¢

 Jamaica

3.7¢

13.5¢

12.6¢

22.4¢

34.0¢

48.0¢

 Mexico

1.0¢

4.0¢

2.1¢

33.6¢

9.0¢

25.0¢

 Philippines

8.3¢

9.5¢

19.8¢

24.9¢

19.0¢

23.0¢

 South Korea

0.8¢

3.0¢

2.1¢

7.3¢

7.0¢

11.0¢

 Vietnam

4.0¢

4.0¢

32.9¢

32.9¢

54.0¢

56.0¢

* Based on SpeedyPin.com calling cards. Rates effective 10/16/09.
** Based on Skype Out (Skype to Phone). Rates effective 10/16/09.
*** Based on Verizon Wireless International Long Distance Value Plan ($3.99 per month + per minute rate). Rates effective 10/16/09.

I truly hope that this article has given you the knowledge you need to go online and select an international calling option that can help you to save up to 95% on your international calling costs. Regardless of which international calling method you choose, it is imperative to choose a provider that guarantees the rates they advertise and will be in business the day you need them the most.

If you have any questions, comments, or want to voice your opinions on anything written in this article, please leave a comment below.

Stay frugal!

This is a guest post writte by Eric I., a Bargaineering reader who I had the chance to meet out in San Diego on a recent business trip. Eric’s a sharp guy who never got into blogging but I convinced him to give it a try. Since he’s been looking at a lot of long distance options to call home and I thought that would make a great money saving post. Be kind to him, he’s a 3rd degree blue belt under the Carlos Gracie Jr. (Gracie Barra) Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu system.

(Photo: bitchbuzz [4])


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