/ Money, Travel & Leisure

How do you make cheap overseas calls?

Telephone wire wrapped around globe

Thanks to modern technology, distance is no longer a barrier to keeping in touch with friends and family overseas. Now you can even make international calls for free via a broadband connection, so why pay?

Calling from a landline is generally cheaper than from a mobile, but there are still big differences in international rates depending on who your provider is. For example, Virgin Media’s standard rate per minute to a landline in Australia is 44.93p, whereas the Post Office charges just 5p and offers inclusive weekend calls.

Many providers offer international bundles which give reduced rates or inclusive calls in return for an additional monthly charge so it’s worth sussing out these deals to reduce your costs. We’ve an article planned for the next issue of Which? Money which will highlight some of the best of these deals.

‘Override’ your home phone provider

Override providers can also be a good alternative if you don’t want to commit to a monthly subscription. They allow you to ‘override’ your home phone provider so that you pay their own charges instead, which are generally very reasonable.

But why spend anything at all when there’s the option to call for free? Thanks to Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology, it’s possible to make international calls for free by using a broadband connection rather than a landline, with the only restriction being that the person you are calling must also have access to broadband.

Video calls with friends and family

Skype is the most popular VoIP service and for a long time now this has been my go-to method of keeping in touch with friends and family who are abroad. In my experience the call quality hasn’t always been particularly high, but I’m more than happy to make this compromise if it means avoiding a hefty phone bill. It’s also great to be able to see the person you’re calling via the video call facility.

What steps do you take to reduce the cost of calling overseas? Are you reluctant to pay for calls when you can use the likes of Skype for free? Or do you think it’s worth paying a bit more to ensure a potentially higher quality of call that is not dependent on a broadband connection?


Unless I’m making a call to a business, there’s no need to make calls to conventional telephone numbers. For calls to friends and family, it’s easy enough for both parties to use Skype or Viber via the internet. For free calls to US fixed lines and mobiles, I use Vonage’s free iPhone app. Skype also provides free calls to freephone numbers in some countries, including the UK, US, Australia, France, the Netherlands and Poland, which can be useful when calling a business. This also applies if you’re abroad and need to call a business in the UK.

David B. Taylor says:
11 May 2014

thank you for that bit of info on SKYPE and free calls to Uk 0800 numbers, never knew that!

larry Levin says:
5 October 2012

moneysavingexpert has a utility which allows u to find the cheapest method of calling from the line you are using and the type of call(to landline or mobile)


What a dreadful Americanism “my go-to method”.
If you mean your usual method then say so!


I’ve gotten fed-up of American expressions too, but that’s not really relevant to the debate. 🙂

I’ve just use Skype to make calls to overseas phone numbers. It works well, is cheap, and does not need the person being called to have a Skype account.


Hello Jim and others, although we’re not always keen on Americanisms ourselves, Which? Convo is a place for informal debate and we like people to speak in the way they feel comfortable, almost as if they’re talking to a friend. So you may see more colloquialisms or even Americanisms here than you would in, say, Which? magazine. If you’d like to tell us what you think about our writing, please use our Contact Us form, as we need to keep the debates on-topic: https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us Thanks.

David B. Taylor says:
11 May 2014


IrvSwerve says:
7 October 2012

Wavechang (?) doesn’t like Americanisms which may be perfectly good English but
prefers to use a made-up form of language which includes the word “gotten”.
I have calls to most major international locations included in my landline tariff.
This free add-on is no longer available to new subscribers.


I think Wavechange’s use of the non-word “gotten” was a deliberate joke, given the context.