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Free Int'l Mobile Calls Tricks to talk at no cost

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Let's make mobile phone companies sick. Call someone overseas from your mobile and they rake in a fortune; Vodafone's standard rate for 20 mins to New Zealand is a shocking £26. Yet, there are a range of tricks which allow you to make free calls overseas if you've ‘free minutes', or just local call costs for everyone else.

The choice is simple: there's a slightly fiddly system for totally free calls to 37 countries, or a simple system for dirt cheap calls everywhere...

Don't confuse this with

Fiddly free International calls from your mobile

Rebtel* is a new company with a clever piece of kit allowing you to make calls to 37 countries, again mainly Europe, Israel, North America, Australasia and the Far East, simply by dialing a local rate phone number. Therefore if you've free minutes on your mobile this call will be included, if not you'll only pay a local call rate.

It's a little fiddly to use, and the call quality is good but not great, so its best left for friends and family you call regularly. However as, for example, a 15 min call to the US is free rather than £15 on O2's standard rate, it's worth a fiddle!

How does it work?

To get your free minutes first of all go to the Rebtel site, and click the 'How it works tab', then the Make a smart call' tab on the next page. The first time you call someone using it, enter the person you're calling's number on its site, and it'll text you a local phone number to call. This then works every time you call that person, so save it in your mobile's address book for the future, and you won't need to return to the website. To make free calls:

  • Dial the local number. You're then connected to the person you're calling and should ask them to immediately call the number they see displayed on their mobile. If they're on a landline, it will send them an e-mail for the first call, the same number's then useable each subsequent time. The number will be a local one in their country. You have only 15 seconds to do this.

  • Stay on the line. Don't disconnect when they do, just hold on, and once they dial the access number they'll automatically be connected through to you.

There's no limit to the number of free calls you can make via this system. Do make sure you use this call back system to grab your free calls though, if you don't you'll be charged Rebtel's usual rates.

How does Rebtel make its money?

Rebtel's come up with a really clever ploy here. Making international calls to most major developed countries costs virtually nothing as they're just routed through the web; what's expensive is routing a call to a mobile. By getting both parties to call a local number, it's cleverly avoided this. It of course, hopes once you've used its free service, you'll use some of its other, paid for, services too.

Dirt cheap, no-hassle, int'l calls from your mobile

An easier route, which although not free is very cheap, is to set up an account with a specialist cheap calls provider; this also has the advantage that every country is covered. Most are only to be used from landlines, yet three sister companies 18185, call18866 and 1899 as well as Rebtel* (which offers a free trial 10 min call anywhere in the world) offer special services for mobiles.

Again, you access the service just by dialling a local rate number; meaning it's included in any free minutes you have, and then dial the overseas number your calling; the provider will then bill you for the call. To call India for 20 minutes, the standard T-mobile cost is £26, but via call18866 and it's just £3 plus any local rate access call cost.

Should I always make int'l calls from my mobile?

It's an obvious question. If all these calls are ‘free', should you use your mobile to call overseas not just for convenience when you're out and about, but even when at home?

Yet the question is wrong. While we call the minutes ‘free minutes,' of course you're actually paying for them via the monthly fee. For example 400 free minutes at £25 a month is effectively 6p a minute (£25/400) per call.

This may be cheap compared to a normal home phone provider's overseas charges, but compared to the International CallChecker results, it's costly. You'd be better off making calls from your home phone and saving your free minutes for when you need them, and especially calling other mobiles, which is actually much more expensive than calling many countries internationally.

Of course those who habitually don't use up the free minutes anyway, leaving them spare, may as well use them for international calls - as there's no additional cost.

Call costs abroad from a mobile for 15 mins

USA mobile
Chile landline
France mobile
T-Mobile (1)
O2 (1)
Rebtel System (2)
(1) Standard peak time call prices from contract phones. (2) Assumes available cross-network minutes used

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