A guide to making overseas phone calls

If you’re used to constantly calling your friends in the same country as you, you might think that calling someone on the opposite side of the world is a similarly straightforward affair – except, of course, that it often isn’t!

With international phone traffic having seen significant growth in recent years, it’s clear that loads of us want to call overseas, and often – but how do you do it both quickly and cheaply?


The basic steps of making an international call

First of all, you will need to ensure that you are actually able to make international calls – we have laid out the most popular and affordable options below.

Secondly, you will need to familiarise yourself with the international dialling code for the country that you would like to call, with this preceding the number that you wish to call – minus its first zero. The UK’s international dialling code, for example, is 44, while the French dialling code is 33 and the USA’s is a nice, simple and easy-to-remember 1.


What are your options for calling abroad?

Now that we’ve got those basics out of the way, it’s time to zoom in on some of your options for phoning other countries. There are many such options out there, with the best one for you likely to depend on how often you call abroad, as well as what countries you call and even the devices or software used by the people you intend to call.

In referring to the latter, we are especially thinking about the many popular online apps and services that mean you may not have to pay a penny to call someone. If you know someone who uses Skype, for instance, you can just download the app to your own desktop computer or smartphone and get in touch with them for nothing.

These services – also referred to as VoIP or ‘Voice over Internet Protocol’ services – have proliferated in recent years, with the likes of Viber, Nimbuzz and Rebtel having also emerged. Then, there’s FaceTime, which is only available on Apple devices like the iPhone or iPad.

Even if you use one of these services but find yourself wishing to call someone who doesn’t share the app, all is not necessarily lost. Skype, for example, offers an international calling plan called Unlimited World that gives you access to highly competitive rates.


Aren’t there other ways to make overseas calls?

There definitely are! You may have heard, for instance, of override providers that give you a special ‘access number’ to dial first. This gets you connected so that you can then call the number that you originally wanted to call, while only paying the cost of a normal UK phone call.

While override providers once seemed to be the way to make a call abroad, new Ofcom rules on non-geographic number charges that took effect from the summer of 2015 have changed the situation somewhat – override providers are now no longer the cheapest option in the majority of cases.

Then, there are such options as international calling cards or simply signing up for an international call plan with your existing or prospective phone service provider – the latter possibly the best bet if you are looking to make a great number of overseas calls over a long time period.

If this is the route you would like to consider for calls abroad, make sure you scrutinise the rates that apply to the countries you expect to call most frequently. Remember that there are many great options outside the usual providers, with one lesser-mentioned firm – Planet Numbers – giving you a revolutionary PIN-less calling account with which to make cheap calls to India and other countries.

As you can see, the world of international calling doesn’t need to be a bewildering or expensive one – you just need to know a small amount of information to make better choices in the context of your own overseas calling circumstances. Happy chatting!

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