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International Calling Guide - Tel3, VoIP, Prepaid Phone Cards and More

Shop and Compare International Calling Plans

 

Summer is fast approaching and many people will want to travel or call family and friends in far away places.  Many people who make international calls infrequently will be shocked when they find out how much their home phone or mobile phone service provider charges for making international calls.  The total cost will include a high per minute rate charged by the service provider and additional taxes and fees levied by the government. Large phone companies like AT&T and Verizon offer lower cost international calling plans but even the rates they charge under these plans are outrageous when compared to other low cost options for making international calls.

Many consumers have turned to VoIP providers such as Vonage in order to save money on international calls.  This may be a good choice if purchased as a replacement for home phone service but there are better options for international calling. Vonage includes free long distance service to Canada, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK with their basic service but calls to these locations are typically very cheap.  Vonage also uses VoIP technology so international call quality tends to vary from good to poor. Plans like Vonage may seem like a good deal but they charge a monthly fee and a long-term contract is typically required.  The International rates charged by most VoIP service providers are also relatively expensive when compared to other low cost options.

Some consumers, especially techies, save money by making international calls with PC-to-Phone providers like Skype.  This can be a great option since Skype features free PC-to-PC calls.  However, in order to make free calls, each party needs to have a PC, an INTERNET connection, and have a Skype account. Many people live with these inconveniences and make free calls with Skype. However, many others want an international calling plan where they can call landlines and cell phones.  People can use Skype to make calls to phones but it is inconvenient since a PC and INTERNET connection is required and it is not as cheap as other, more convenient options.

One option for making international calls that is convenient, flexible and low cost is prepaid long distance.  These virtual calling plans evolved from phone cards but they have become more sophisticated.  Most come with free user accounts where callers can monitor activity (even the details of each call) and make account changes.  They also typically have other features like PIN free dialing and speed dial so they are more convenient to use than standard phone cards.  A few of these prepaid international calling plans offer high quality and low rates on calls to almost any location in the world.  One plan, Tel3Advantage, is very popular with frequent international callers because it features low cost, high quality and no hidden fees.  Some high quality prepaid phone cards that are becoming more like prepaid calling plans. They offer a full range of features as well as low rates.  One such phone card is the Continental calling card. We have used both of these to make low cost international phone calls for several years.  Tel3Advatage is an especially good calling plan that features high quality connections and rates that beat Skypeís PC-to-Phone rates to many locations.  Both Tel3Advantage and Continental are virtual prepaid calling plans that do not require a contract or other long-term obligation.  They also do not charge an activation fee or any fees for maintaining or terminating an account.  They are both ideal calling plans for either short-term or long-term use.  Either one of these prepaid calling plans are a good option for consumers who want to save money on long distance calling and still want convenience, flexibility and high quality.

For illustrative purposes, the Table below compares the rates charged by these calling plans to some popular international locations.  These rates are in cents per minute for calls made from the USA. They are the rates advertised on the service providerís website and may not include all fees and taxes.  They include rates from two traditional international calling plans (AT&T and Verizon), one VoIP provider (Vonage), one PC-to-Phone provider (Skype) and two prepaid long distance provider (Tel3Advantage and Continental).

International Calling Plan Rate Comparison* (cents/min)

Location Called/Service Provider

 Vonage  Skype

 Verizon Choice Plan

AT&T Int'l Plan 

Tel3Advantage 

 Continental Phone Card

 Egypt

 21

 18.5

 35

 35

 14

 19.6

 Germany

 5

 2.1

 10

 9

 2

 6.5

 Ghana

 13

 15.3

 45

 45

 7

 11.9

 Jamaica

 20

 12.6

 38

 36

 9.5

 12.1

 Mexico

 8

 2.1

 8

 9

 2

 6.4

 Nigeria

 11

 11.7

 52

 52

 11

 10.7

 Philippines

 18

 19.8

 16

 16

 12.5

 16.9

 Moscow (Ru)

 7

 2.1

 15

 16

 1.5

 6

*Calls Originating in the USA (cents/min)

 

Conclusions

  1. International rates vary significantly between companies and countries.  It pays to shop for the best deal to the locations you call the most.
  2. It is not hard to beat the rates on international calls offered by the traditional long distance providers.  They are not even trying to compete on price.
  3. Skype provides free PC-to-PC calls but their rates to landlines or cell phones are easy to beat.
  4. Vonage may save consumers money on home phone service but their international rates are not cheap relative to the competition.
  5. Consumers who plan to make frequent international calls should consider using a prepaid long distance provider like Tel3Advantage or a phone card like continental.