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How to make cheap international calls from the UK

Learn how to call European and other foreign countries from the UK without spending a fortune, with our guide on making cheap international calls.

If you have friends or family who live abroad, you might be spending an absolute fortune on calls from your mobile phone. Calling abroad certainly isn't cheap, but here are our top tips for cutting costs when it comes to international calls.

How to make cheap international calls: What does my network charge for international calls from my mobile phone?

Calls to international countries often come with a rather steep standard rate from each UK mobile provider. Here's how to check what your own provider charges for calls to other countries.

O2: O2 has a nifty 'calling abroad' webpage where you enter a country to see the current rates for calling.

EE/Orange/T-Mobile: Check out the combined calling abroad from the UK page for info on EE, Orange or T-Mobile international rates.

Vodafone: Check out Vodafone's 'calling abroad from the UK' page for current rates to specific countries.

Three UK: Head to Three's handy 'calling and texting abroad from the UK' page for current rates.

TalkTalk Mobile: TalkTalk's international calling guide has everything you need to know on individual rates.

Note: It's worth remembering that each network splits the world up into zones, which vary in price. Western European countries are usually the cheapest and places like Afghanistan can be a lot more.

How to make cheap international calls: Pick up an international SIM card

If you make more calls abroad than to the UK, it's worth leaving the big UK networks and considering a SIM specifically designed for international calls.

Lebara Mobile and Truphone are two such providers, offering cheap calls and texts for people who call internationally. You don't get a handset with these cards, so you'll need to stick with your old one. All you need to do is remove your existing SIM card and replace it with your new card when it arrives, and you should be good to go.

How to make cheap international calls: Use a chat app

If the person you're calling has a smartphone, you can use an app to call them over WiFi instead of using your mobile network.

Skype lets you make free or cheap voice calls to other Skype users over WiFi, using either a mobile phone app or via a PC or Mac. You can even indulge in a bit of video chatting via your phone's front-facing camera, or a webcam if you're using a PC, Mac or laptop.

If you're calling someone who already has Skype over WiFi then the call is totally free. Otherwise you can buy Skype Credit to make cheap calls to landlines and mobiles too.

How to make cheap international calls: Top tips for calling abroad

  1. Contact your network to see if they offer any packages for making cheaps calling abroad.
  2. Work out what call package you need. Do you want to have long conversations? If so, pre-pay for some credit. But if you are making the occasional call it might be better to opt for a package with low cost per-minute calls.
  3. Check what zone the country you are calling is in; don't assume all of Europe costs the same to call.
  4. Always check if the call cost includes mobiles or a landline.
  5. If you are going to be making a lot of calls abroad, invest in a SIM designed especially for making calls. Either use it all the time or pop it in when you need it. Make sure your phone is unlocked though.
  6. If you will be calling people in the UK as well as a specific country abroard, look for a multi-IMSI SIM.
  7. To get truly free international calls, you'll need to use Wi-Fi. So encourage friends or family who live abroad to download Skype onto whatever devices they have.

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