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How to make cheap international calls

Wednesday, July 2nd 2014

There are four main ways to make cheap international calls: through a landline package, with a mobile phone plan, via your broadband connection and with international calling cards.

If you’re studying or working in the UK and want a quick way to keep in touch with those back home without spending too much, you’ll need a cheap international call package. Let's take a look at what's on offer.

Landline calls

Many of the UK’s landline providers have international call plans that can either be included with your home phone service, or applied as a monthly bolt-on. The per minute rates to European and international countries vary depending on provider, and some providers offer inclusive minute rates for countries that you call more often than others.

We’ve included a table for the cheapest pay monthly international call plans on landlines in the UK.

International call planPrice from
BTFriends & Family International£1.15 per month →
Virgin MediaTalk International£2.00 per month →
TalkTalkInternational Boost£2.99 per month →
Post OfficeInternational Saver£4.00 per month →
BTInternational Freedom£5.85 per month →
PlusnetAnytime International 300£6.00 per month →
SkyTalk Anytime International£10.00 per month →
BT
International call plan
Friends & Family International
Price from
Virgin Media
International call plan
Talk International
Price from
TalkTalk
International call plan
International Boost
Price from
Post Office
International call plan
International Saver
Price from
BT
International call plan
International Freedom
Price from
Plusnet
International call plan
Anytime International 300
Price from
Sky
International call plan
Talk Anytime International
Price from

Mobile calls

You can also use your mobile phone to make international calls from the UK, and rates will vary depending on whether you’re a British National or visiting from another European country.

If you’re visiting the UK from an EU country and have bought your mobile with you, you may find that your handset is subject to European Union roaming regulations. These regulations will mean that any phone call you make from the UK to an EU country (with your non-UK mobile) will be charged at a consistent rate, without the intervention of a mobile provider. From The per minute rate for a phone call is 15p, receiving a call is 4p, sending a text message is 5p and data is charged at 16p per megabyte. There are, however, plans afoot for data roaming to be abolished entirely.

If you want to take out a UK handset instead (or if you’re a British National looking to make international calls) there are plenty of options to choose from. We’ve included a table to list the cheapest international call plans offered by UK-based mobile providers.

International call planPrice from
EECalling Abroad Add-on£6.00 per month →
O2International SIM£10.00 per month →
VodafoneInternational Bundle£10.00 per month →
T-MobileInternational Pass£10.00 per month →
EE
International call plan
Friends & Family International
Price from
O2
International call plan
International SIM
Price from
Vodafone
International call plan
International Bundle
Price from
T-Mobile
International Pass
International Plan
Price from

Internet calls

If you have internet access, you can make cheap international calls via an online application such as Skype or Rebtel. If you don't have internet access, you might want to see what you can get with out broadband comparison tool.

Skype is a VoIP (voice over internet protocol) service you can download for free onto your home computer or mobile device. It allows free communication between computers and handsets with the Skype application installed, and also offers cheap call rates to international numbers.

There are two international landline calling plans from Skype. If the destination of your call lies within one of the 24 European territories (including the UK) you can sign up for the basic Skype Unlimited Europe package. If you’ll be calling destinations outside Europe the Skype Unlimited World package will give you unlimited calls to 57 worldwide destinations.

Rebtel is a smartphone app that lets you make cheap international calls from your handset. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you can either pay for your calls on a Pay As You Go basis or plump for a Max Saver deal, which gives you cheaper rates on calls made to a specific country (the China Big Saver comes with 250 inclusive minutes for £1.90, for instance).

International calling cards

International calling cards are prepaid phone cards that can easily be picked up in many shops. They can be used at payphones, on landlines and on most mobiles. When you buy one it will include some credit, and you’ll top it up once that credit is used up.

There are lots of different calling card companies but if you’re new to the concept a good place to start is with the Tesco International Calling Card. They’re widely available from Tesco stores - or online - and feature very low international call rates.

Conclusion

The best way to keep in touch for free is over a VoIP internet service, if you’ve both got it (Skype to Skype is a prime example). But if you need to make an actual phone call, the cheapest way will depend on your circumstances and what you have access to.

Comments (15)

Jack
13th May 2014

Internet calls? Very good idea, but not only Skype and Rebtel.

There is a lof of others "internet calls" apps, for example Nimbuzz, Viber or Smartgroschen. And my favourite app is Smartgroschen - new app for Android and iOS (iPhone and iPad) with very cheap international calls. Smartgroschen gives you at start 0,50EUR top up so you can test it without any costs! :)

Donal
6th May 2014

I call Ireland using the Vyke app on my iphone - 1p to landlines or 3.5p to mobiles, really good call quality. They also have the VykeZone where you can call landlines for up to one hour for just 9p.

dominic
2nd May 2014

What is the cheapest way to phone the rep of ireland? i am with 3.

pam
13th April 2014

Will my landline be charged if my husband rings me from spain using a phone card

vinnie
19th December 2013

Ela, to call Albania in 02 landlines 7p a min and mobiles 18p a min

Jack Leo
22nd October 2013

Lycatalk of Lyca group provides 1 p per min to landline 2 per min to mobile to call malaysia. I think its better to other operators.

abdul hafiz hawari
25th September 2013

anybody know the cheapest way to call malaysia from nepal

Jan
2nd August 2013

Check out Viber if you and the person your calling have it, then the calls are free.

Rob
4th July 2013

Hi all

I call my Wife everyday for min of 2 hours she lives in Bangladesh, I have tried all the other options and the best I have found is the £39 unlimited offered by Lebara mobile and Lyca Mobile sims. Although it says unlimited it is actually limited to just 3000 Mins however that still better than any others and mobile to mobile the call never breaks up. It works out around 1.3p per min. There is no other better deal with this quality on the phone line.

Ive tried them all and i get 1 month for 2 hours everyday for just £39.00

patsy
12th May 2013

have just bought a £10 phone card from Post Office to phone Canada never used 1 before but would like to know if i am charged useing my BT landline before i use the card

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