If there’s one expense associated with our smart phones that we can do without it’s the roaming fees for making international calls when we’re on the road (or even at home). Depending on your wireless plan, international calling could cost you about $30 per month (annual contract required) and $1 per minute to check voice mail, call home or even reach out to a client.
To be fair, when business travelers are on the road for work, it’s important to have excellent access. But many executives are also aware that they need to watch the expense account if they only travel a few times internationally each year (which is much more of the norm for many).
So, what’s the alternative?
Well, many different international calling apps can now be downloaded to your android or iOS device. And you will literally pay pennies on the dollar vs. a wireless contract — definitely worth your time to review the options.
These calling apps work on Wi-Fi and 3G networks, and they can use your own number. Many offer you the ability to send free texts and images to other users who have the same apps. While their designs and user interfaces vary a bit, they each tend to function similarly:
- Download the app (before taking your trip)
- Setup your account
- Add credit
- Set your phone to airplane mode
- Connect to Wi-Fi (or turn on your cellular data)
- Make calls (choose the app calling rate that works best for you)
YouRoam is an app offered by YouRoam Inc. (USA). I tested this calling app during a recent trip to Spain. I connected to my hotel’s free wireless internet. At first their signal was a bit weak; however, after a couple attempts I was able to call home with ease. YouApp also offers incentives to new users, including 25 to 50 minutes of free calls and text.
Roamer is a popular app that’s available from Roamer Labs Limited (UK). As was the case with YouRoam, after I was able to obtain a good wireless Internet connection, my test calls went through and the line was clear. It will be helpful in the future when Roamer adds text roaming options.
Viber is a popular name in the world of international calling apps. It’s a VoIP app that allows users to speak freely with other Viber users (it has been reported that Viber has more than 400 million downloads). I didn’t realize that the service is only free between Viber uses I downloaded the app. Like the other apps, you will need to fund your Viber account to make calls before using it. Since I didn’t do this before leaving the States, I will have to test Viber at a future trip.
Other International Calling Apps
As mentioned above, there are now countless options out there. A few names include:
- MagicApp (by MagicJack)
- Vonage Mobile
Do you use an app to make international calls when traveling — or even calling overseas? Share your comments with us!