How Can I Avoid International Phone Charges?

Marco Sumayao

International phone charges can be avoided through clever use of alternative means of communication. The Internet allows individuals from different countries to contact each other at little to no cost, depending on the service being used. International travelers who need to get in touch with individuals in the same country can take advantage of local means of communication to save on phone charges. Some service providers offer special international rates as promotions on occasion, which can provide significant savings. In order to avoid international phone charges from data services, users should be vigilant about limiting the connectivity of their mobile devices.

Getting a local SIM card can help with avoiding international phone charges.
Getting a local SIM card can help with avoiding international phone charges.

The simplest and most convenient method of avoiding international phone charges is using voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services for communication. Instead of connecting through a mobile carrier, users can contact each other through voice calls made over the Internet. Many of these services, such as Skype®, are free to use. If used from a household or location with free Internet connection, the call comes at no cost, while the only cost incurred when using VoIP services from an Internet cafe is the rental fees for computer use.

Some phone companies offer discounted rates for international phone calls at certain times.
Some phone companies offer discounted rates for international phone calls at certain times.

Instant messaging is another online way of circumventing international phone call charges. Users can communicate through a series of text messages instead of conversing over the voice. Some instant messaging clients also come with VoIP functionality, allowing individuals to both see and hear each other during a conversation.

Landline telephone companies bill international calls at a per-minute rate.
Landline telephone companies bill international calls at a per-minute rate.

If an individual needs to contact someone in the country he is currently visiting, the best option for avoiding international phone charges is to purchase a local subscriber identification module (SIM) card for his mobile device. SIM cards are usually very affordable and often come with a fixed amount of free calls. Even if calls go beyond the allotted amount, fees for local SIM card usage are significantly lower than international rates. Alternatively, individuals can make use of conventional land line telephones and phone booths to make local calls.

Instant messaging is one way of circumventing international phone call charges.
Instant messaging is one way of circumventing international phone call charges.

Many mobile phone service providers offer special promotions that supply discounted rates for international calls. These often involve holidays or following a small set of instructions in order to use the promo. Travelers should always check for such offers before departing for their trips.

Fees for local SIM card usage are significanlty lower than international rates.
Fees for local SIM card usage are significanlty lower than international rates.

In many cases, international phone charges come as a result of neglecting the data service access of a mobile device. Although users do not consciously make calls, providers tend to charge international rates for mobile web access made in foreign countries. Users should regularly check if their phones are streaming any unwanted data, or turn off their data services for the duration of their trips.

Skype is a good alternative for people who travel internationally for business.
Skype is a good alternative for people who travel internationally for business.

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