How to make cheap international calls

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By in International Students. Updated December 2015.

If you’re studying in the UK and have family and friends abroad you’ll no doubt want to keep in touch. We show you how without costing the world.Phoning AbroadHaving loved ones abroad doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of expensive phone bills and eternal doom.

To prove just how easy it is to stay in touch without compromising on your gin budget, we’ve complied our top tips on low cost international chinwags.

No more excuses not to call mum and dad…

Free internet Calls

welcomeonlineSome stalwarts may argue the internet is killing our brains, but no-one can deny that it’s revolutionised the way we speak to friends, acquaintances and weird cat stroking strangers abroad.

The arrival of VoIP software (no we don’t know what it stands for either, it’s not important) means that as long as you and your callee have got access to the internet you can chinwag to your heart’s content at no extra cost. Woopiee!

So, without further ado, here’s our top pick of apps to get you connected.

Note: you can’t call an actual landline number this way. You both have to be signed up and contacting each other through the same app. Many apps will offer “real world calls” if you buy credit, but if you need to call a landline or mobile this is a costly way to do it.


Skype for studentsPerhaps the most well known video calling platform of them all, Skype is free to download on any computer and can also come as an app on your smartphone.

If you can’t be bothered to sign-up, that’s no issue either, as all you need is a Facebook account and you’re sorted.

It’s also worth noting you don’t have to video call all the time – audio calls are acceptable too.

Check out Skype »

iPhone Facetime

789e2fd88f8a4c7a8a9e2a433e63b2daf5679937_largeSo, there’s this company called Apple, and while we don’t know if you’ve heard of them it’s probably fair to say they’re taking over the world.

Basically, any Apple device, whether it be an iPhone, iPad, iPod or a Mac has this cool bit of kit called Facetime on it which allows you to call any other Facetime user.

Of course this relies on both parties being Apple-ed up to to the nines but if you are it’s a really good shout as it comes preinstalled with no lengthy sign-ups.

Check out Facetime »


3678fa00-ef0c-46c9-864c-58f9dcdb6e3eIf we haven’t exhausted you enough already with options, it’s well worth checking out Viber for your calling abroad options.

A nifty little purple app that works on pretty much all the platforms you could ever think of, Viber lets you call or text on WiFi for free.

Check out Viber »

Re-routing or International Calling Cards

flaggphoneIf you don’t have the luxury of free Wifi or 3G data to hand, or you need to call an actual physical number on the other side of the world there’s no need to panic. All is not lost.

Rerouting or “override” providers allow you to call abroad from your normal phone by dialling what is called an access number. You then put in the actual number you want to dial and they call it for you. You’ll only pay the cost of a normal UK phone call.

We’d just like to stop you here and say while these calls aren’t free, the savings are HUGE. You’re talking about knocking a 24p/min call down to 1p/min. Just think about that.

In practice this works one of two ways; it could be a service you don’t have to sign up for and just dial.  The access number is a fixed low tariff and they just take their cut from your normal bill.

The other option is a sign up service or calling card. You’ll have your own special number to ring and will only be billed, via your account, once you’re connected.

Tesco International Calling Card

tescocardIf you’re the kind of kid who prefers to play it simple, and don’t want to spend money you don’t have, the Tesco International Calling Card is a goer.

You top it up, from a little as £3 and then you can use a special number to call abroad from as little at 1p/min.

What’s good about this one is that as well as topping up online or on the phone you can also do it at any shop with the paypoint sign.

Check out Tesco’s Calling Card »

International SIMs/Tariffs

If you’re going to be making a lot of calls on a regular basis it might be worth getting yourself a special package to accommodate for your international calling needs.

You can pick up international SIM cards cheaply, often for free, and rates start from just 1p/min and you just top up as you go. Alternatively, you can speak to your current contract provider for the cost of a bundle to call home.


lycamobileThe big name in international SIMs, Lycamobile will doll you out a free SIM and then you just top up whenever you’ve run out.

Their rates start from just 1p/min and they also offer special offers fairly often too, so are well worth checking out.

Check out Lycamobile »


download (1)Another massive player in the mobile phone market, you’ll find rates from 1p/min with O2’s international SIM card.

Once again, it’s free to get your hands on one and they offer some extra deals when you top up by £10 or more.

Check out O2 »

So there you have it, the cheap way to have gossip with your mates and famalam abroad. If you’ve got any other ideas on how to make a call on the less pricey end of the scale give us a shout in the comments below!

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One Response to “How to make cheap international calls”

  1. Jessy

    05. Jan, 2015

    For travelers it is a headache and burden on a pocket to call internationally. But to it is quite necessary to stay connected with your family and friends whenever you want without any worry about the call rates. VoIP is one of the best options to call internationally at very nominal rates having various features. The post is informative indeed. The information you have mentioned are useful for every person going to travel abroad. Viber is good for high voice quality


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