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UPDATE: Be sure to read the update on Jan 16, 2008 for the latest tips on Saving Money on International Calls
People have the fantasy that elite track and field athletes lead a jet-set life. True, they are on the road a lot and often travel overseas, especially Europe.
Take for example the IAAF Summer meets: Golden League series, Grand Prix meets, Super Grand Prix meets, World Championships, Pan Am Games… the list goes on.
Normally, we use Skype or Google chat (See #10 on this article), but that requires a computer and a decent Internet connection. Of course, ALWAYS avoid using the direct long distance calling from the hotel room with their outrageous markups! While in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, out of state calls were over $5 per minute!
I will use the UK as a primary example throughout this article, and the currency is in USD.
1) Pre-paid Calling Cards
These can be purchased at any convenience store. For North American travel, if I’m in a hotel room and want to spare my cell phone from roaming charges and battery life, I use Dialbug as I can easily “refill” the card on-line over the web, especially if local or toll-free calls are free.
2) International GSM cell phone
Click on the image as GSM cell phones come in 3 different frequencies: 900, 1800, and 1900. North America is GSM 1900. Common carriers in Canada are Fido and Rogers, and in the USA, Wireless from AT&T, formerly Cingular Wireless. When you purchase a cell phone, check the make and model if it is a dual-band or tri-band “World” phone.
Pros: your cell number remains the same worldwide. Calls from US to UK are relatively cheap (under 20 cents a minute)
Cons: Making and receiving calls overseas, whether local or back home, cost about $1.00 per minute
3) Prepaid SIM Cards
You can buy them locally at selected stores, or pre-purchase them at Telestial and insert the SIM card into the phone.
- UK Domestic prices range from $0.15 off peak to $0.51 peak for standard calls.
- Calls to other UK cell phones (slightly higher) $0.37 off peak to $0.73 peak.
- International calls to the US is $0.13 off peak to $0.15 peak
- You will have a different cell number.
- These cards will expire (some last up to 6 months).
- These cards require a compatible GSM 900, 1800, and/or 1900 World phone, depending on which country you are visiting.
4) International Callback service
The callback service one of the greatest money savers!
Kallback is the originator of a unique telephone innovation called “callback” that provides low-cost U.S. international long distance rates to countries outside the United States.
A Kallback customer simply dials the USA “trigger number”, lets it ring once and hangs up before it answers. Within seconds, the Kallback computer rings back the caller with a USA dial tone. Then, the caller dials out as usual, using this USA line to call any country they choose. Kallback bills at far cheaper rates than most every other country’s long distance service.
Kallback offers you four call-triggering options:
- Standard Trigger Numbers allow you to receive calls at a single, permanent location.
- Traveler Trigger Numbers allow you to change your callback location.
- Personalized Trigger Numbers ask for you by name at a permanent location.
- You can also trigger a call from the Internet.
2speak.com is a similar service that only provides the trigger number though an Internet browser to access. Simply go to the web, select any phone number and click “PLACE CALL”, your phone rings in seconds, then speak live on a high quality line. The selected number is stored into your 2speak address book for future “one-click” access.
I hope these 4 tips will help you save money on your next trip overseas.