Whether you’re studying abroad, doing a cultural exchange, or simply planning on traveling for a short period of time, it’s easy to rack up hefty overseas fees as a student. In many cases you won’t even know about these fees until your phone bill arrives, taking a big bite out of your monthly budget. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce the cost of long distance or international phone calls.
1. Off-Peak Hours
One of the first ways to save money on your phone bill is to look at your contract a bit more carefully. Many students are lured by the promise of a free smartphone, and don’t take the time to look at a contract’s terms and conditions. Some carriers charge lower rates during certain off-peak hours, which you can use to your advantage particularly with differences in time zones.
2. Prepaid Phones
Do you find that you rarely use all of your allotted minutes each month, or do you make a high volume of overseas calls? A prepaid phone may be more economically sound than a regular contract. There are several options available. If you rarely use your phone, a pay as you go provides a high degree of freedom and low per-minute rates. Another option is to sign a prepaid phone contract with a minimum monthly usage rate. Either way, you benefit from never being surprised with a high phone bill at the end of the month.
3. International Calling Cards
Another good way to make cheap international calls is by using a calling card. Although you’ll need to shop around to find the best rates for your main calling destinations, these can be as low as 3 cents per minute in many cases. To use a card, you’ll need to dial a toll-free number and enter your account and PIN numbers, which are provided on the card. This adds an extra step to the calling process, but it can pay off for longer calls. As you compare cards, be sure to keep a lookout for hidden charges such as minimum usage times or connection fees.
4. Internet Services
One of the most popular ways for students to save on long distance calls is by using internet voice over internet protocol services like Skype or Vonage. These can be completely free if you call other users within the same network, and offer added services like video chatting. For an added fee, you can typically call regular landlines or mobile phones, or sign up for features like call forwarding and caller ID.
5. Long Distance Apps
Another way to lower your long distance phone calls is to download free mobile apps. Some of these come from VoIP providers like Skype or Rebtel, and rely on Wi-Fi connections to provide their low per-minute rates. There are also apps which are designed for specific countries. For example, NetTalk is an app that allows you to call anyone in North America using a hardware dongle. If you need to send a brief message to a friend, texting apps like WhatsApp can be a way to do so for free. This allows you to chat with overseas contacts via text without wasting your minutes on a lengthy phone call.
There’s no shortage of alternatives to the traditional mobile contract, so it’s worth exploring different rates and features to find the best fit for your long distance needs.
What do you use for your long distance calling?