5 Cheap Ways to Call Home
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Don't touch that cellphone. Not when you are traveling out of country, where calling rates quickly vault into the several dollars per minute category and more. Instead, you can call for pennies, maybe even for free.
Personally I have made $100 cellphone calls from Salzburg, Austria and also Berlin before I discovered the secrets frugal frequent travelers know.
There is no reason - none - to pay more than a couple dollars on a call from just about anywhere in the world to the U.S.. You just need the right tools.
Viber - a free app available on iOS, Android, even Windows Mobile and Blackberry -- is emerging as the free calling tool du jour, a fact underlined by its use by peripatetic pro wrestlers Austin Aries and Ken Anderson, said their publicist Marc Kruskol. He added that both are regulars on SPIKE TV and their business makes them world travelers.
Frieda Aaronson, a Viber spokeswoman, added: "Viber is a free and fun way to connect. The app has stickers, emoticons, photo and video sharing, multiple device support, not to mention free texts and calling."
Lora Ackermann, a Los Angeles based corporate trainer, said that "Viber seems to work more consistently than Skype.
It's also not a Microsoft product which, at least on some scorecards, counts for a lot.
A Viber disadvantage: it requires a decent wifi connection, but ordinary hotel or coffee shop wifi should be plenty. It also allows only Viber to Viber calling, meaning your calls must go to other Viber users, so it's up to you to evangelize them.
Skype - speaking of which, this service (now owned by Microsoft, which is feverishly integrating it into Microsoft Office), has to count as the gold standard for free and cheap calls to and from foreign countries. Skype to Skype calls - that is, calls within Skype - are free. Calls to and from landline and cellphone numbers are available as an add on service, at rates that usually are pennies per minute.
Japan based entrepreneur Frank Peelen sings Skype's praises: "A great, cheap way to make telephone calls to friends, family and business partners across the globe is Skype. All you need is Internet and a mobile device or computer."
Call quality typically is as good as the wifi connection powering Skype (and overseas you definitely want to power Skype with wifi, not with cellular data, an option available in the U.S.).
Call this a two-fold approach to cutting costs on calls.
TruPhone's first product was a SIM card - selling for around $30 - which gives the owner very low calling rates in over 200 countries (typically under $1 per minute in places like Italy and Germany).