Saving on Calls

With affordable international calling plans, stay connected without amassing a huge phone bill.

Pritam P Hans        Print Edition: April 2011

When travelling abroad, your phone bill can quickly add up, thanks to high international roaming rates. A little planning before crossing the border can help save a lot of costs. Several telecom service provides offer special international calling cards that will not burn a hole in your pocket.

A phone call made to someone back home while travelling in the US may cost around Rs 150 per minute on regular international roaming. You will also have to pay around Rs 75 for incoming calls. Instead of getting your international roaming activated on you regular mobile number, you can get a local connection in the destination country. You can get an international calling card or connection from providers such as Airtel, Reliance Communications (RCom) and Matrix Cellular to avoid the hassle of hunting for mobile connection on arrival.

A calling card is one of the cheapest options for keeping your phone bills under control when travelling abroad. For example, Reliance Passport calling cards allow you to call home from the US at Rs 5.50 per minute. You can make a call from any local telephone or mobile phone by dialling the number provided to you by the service provider and entering the destination number. Of course, you will not be able to receive calls using a calling card. When dialling from public phones or pay phones, an additional surcharge may be levied.

If you have access to free Internet or can find cheap cyber cafes, try chat and video conferencing applications such as Skype to stay connected with your loved ones.

You can get an international number if you need to receive calls as well. Service providers provide you a separate SIM card and number which can be used in one or many countries. The tariffs are lower than international roaming and vary from country-to -country. A call from the US to India will cost around Rs 40 per minute. You will have to pay around Rs 10 per minute for incoming calls. When travelling to the US, Korea and Japan, check the compatibility of your phone in the destination country.

You can rent a compatible phone from service providers such as Matrix. Most firms will activate your international number within 24 hours. Just keep copies of documents such as passport, visa, driving licence, tickets and credit card handy.

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