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Calling international? Make cheap calls from the UK

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Robert Powell looks at easy ways to make cheap international calls from the UK this Christmas!


Christmas is time for family and friends – that’s why almost a third of us are planning to make calls to loved ones living abroad this Christmas.

But according to research by Homephonechoices.co.uk over a quarter of these callers are planning on using their standard home phone plan to make that international call – and a further 7% will use their mobile.

But standard phone plans usually aren’t geared up for international calls, meaning many people phoning abroad this Christmas could face a hefty New Year phone bill.

So to help you save some money on your first phone bill of 2011, here are a few ways to call abroad for less...

Internet calling

A great, free option for calling abroad this Christmas is to do it over your broadband connection. But remember, this is usually only free if you call another computer – phone up a landline or mobile and you’ll be hit with a charge.

Skype is one of the biggest providers of computer-to-computer calls – if you have a webcam you can even make a video call! Perfect for showing off your Christmas prezzies to Cousin Ron over in the States!

All you need to do to start Skyping is download the free Skype software, get your hands on a microphone (if your computer doesn’t have an in-built one), make sure the person you’re calling also has Skype, add them to your contacts list, and get chatting!

Skype now also has a free iPhone app that allows you to make free Skype-to-Skype calls and send instant messages wherever you are, so long as there’s a 3G or wireless internet connection.

 Viber is another free iPhone app that allows you to make free calls to any other iPhone which has the app installed – wherever they are in the world!

We're paying over the odds for landlines. Here are five easy ways to get cheaper phone calls and save money

Online to mobile calls

Most online call providers offer fairly competitive rates on calls to mobiles and landlines as well. But you should always check the cost’s before dialling an overseas number – as some international call cards may be cheaper that online providers.

Skype calls to landlines and mobile in over 30 countries including Australia, the USA and much of Europe start at 1.4p per minute plus a small connection fee. But it’s worth heading to the Skype website to check the full rates before you make a call as charges to mobiles in most countries are well over 10p per minute.

You pay for the calls by adding credit to your account much like a pay-as-you-go mobile phone deal.

But Skype’s pay-as-you-go rates aren’t actually the cheapest around. So be sure to do your homework first!

Cheap home phone calls

If you don’t fancy messing around with the computer to make overseas calls then you can get good rates on your home phone line – in fact, they’re usually cheaper than the online rates!

Discount overseas call providers work because when you make the call you’re actually phoning up a British number then inputting the international number – so you pay the normal national call charge. The overseas part of the call is usually paid for by purchasing credit or buying an international call card.

There are a million and one cheap overseas call providers all offering varying levels of service for varying rates, so it's a good idea to use this international call checker to find out which provider is cheapest for your destination.

For those of you planning on making a quick call to a relative abroad this Christmas JahJah may be a good option as they’re offering a free trial. You make the call using your landline, but like Skype the service routes the call through the internet – keeping costs low.

Rebtel offers a similar internet routed service and if you sign up now you’ll also get a free trial.

For more on slashing the cost of your phone calls read Two ways to cut your mobile phone bill.

John Fitzsimons looks at three simple ways to cut the money you spend on your mobile each month

Calling cards

International calling cards allow you to make cheap overseas calls without going anywhere near a computer! Again there are hundreds of these cards about and you can pick them up from most newsagents or phone shops.

Check your phone package

It may sound obvious but it’s worth checking whether your landline or mobile provider offers you any cheap international calls as part of your package.

Many providers will also allow you to add on international call booster packs for a set fee every month that will give you free or discounted calls abroad. But if you’re only planning on speaking to Aunt Hilda in Australia once a year at Christmas – it probably isn’t worth paying the extra fee!

You can get further tips on spending less on phone calls by reading our how-to guide on spending less on your mobile.

Your overseas calling tips

If you’ve got any advice on getting cheap international call rates all year round, please post them in the comment box below.

More: Punish BT for increasing its landline charges! Save £180 a year with a SIM-only mobile phone tariff

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