Friday, December 2, 2011

How to make cheaper international phone calls from the UK

Yesterday I had to make a phone call to Switzerland. As Switzerland is not in the EU I knew it would be expensive, but I was not prepared for what I found when I looked up the prices. My land line provider (Virgin Media) wanted 60p per minute and my mobile provider (T-Mobile) wanted 70p per minute. This would have meant spending around £25 on the call so started thinking about alternatives.

I used to make lots of calls from the UK to the US and Canada and used an alternative carrier (Onetel) for this. Then I had a phone line from Sky and calls to the USA and some other countries were free. I didn't have time to sign up for another service, but I had an hour or so to do some research. I found a company called Planet Numbers who route via an 0844 number and claim 1p per minute. I had doubts about this as 0844 numbers normally terminate at 3 or 4p per minute so checked their number in the very complicated virgin media call pricing charts and found it would actually be about 7p per minute. Given the time constraints I still used them and the call cost me around £2. Quality was fine and it saved me over £20!

This got me thinking so I did some further research and it turns out that there are lots of companies providing this kind of service. runs a search engine for finding and comparing the cheapest providers:

International Call Checker

If you select "quick and easy" it only lists the ones that don't require signing up in advance. Ideal for the odd call, but if you make a lot of overseas calls then the services you have to sign up for are even cheaper.

(This is an independent review. I receive nothing for linking to these services).