If you have to make lots of international calls, you need a plan that will minimise those costs. Here’s how to pick the perfect plan.
For most people, the cost of a single call in Australia is rapidly approaching zero. That's because so many telcos now offer unlimited standard national calls and texts as part of their plans. Sadly, the same simply isn’t true for anyone wanting to call international destinations. Alongside data usage, calling overseas numbers from within Australia is the single easiest way to rack up large phone bills if you’re not careful.
As with any other plan type, there’s not really a one-size-fits-all approach you can take to picking a plan with the "best" international calling provisions because everyone’s needs are different. Also, it’s likely that you’ll have other considerations in mind for your plan. Here are the factors you should consider when picking the right plan for you.
- Are my calling destinations covered?
This is naturally a key question in deciding the value of any plan, but it goes beyond a simple listing check to see if rates are provided for calling in. Outside of some conflict zones it’s possible to call just about anywhere on the planet. What you need to check are both specific rates and whether they’re part of any kind of special bundle deal due to popularity.
- Are minutes enough, or do I need unlimited calls?
Some plans offer a small suite of calling minutes (or sometimes calling dollars) for international destinations, which could suffice if you only need to call every once in a while. However, if you need to call frequently, a plan with unlimited calls might suit you better, but again this will depend on where you need to call. A number of destinations, including (generally) the UK, US, Japan, Canada and much of South East Asia, often feature as countries with either very low-cost calling or unlimited calls with some plan combinations.
- Postpaid or prepaid?
For international callers, you do have the luxury of opting for a prepaid plan to keep your overall bills low, because as with any prepaid plan you can only spend as much as you’ve recharged for. However, if you are a frequent caller, or someone who absolutely needs a consistent connection, a postpaid plan may be safer as you won't get blocked from access because you've run out of credit.
- What else do I need?
Very few plans sell themselves purely on their international calling credit, which means that for most users, you’ve got to weigh up other inclusions as well. Do you need a lot of data, or a little? Are calls within Australia important to you? What about entertainment options, or the bundling of a smartphone handset to go with a contract plan?
Pick of the plans: Which plans are best?
Your needs for international calling will rest largely on the countries you need to call and the frequency with which you need to make those calls, but exhaustively listing every possible combination of countries would neither be feasible nor terribly enlightening. However, we’ve identified a few key usage types that should help identify the most suitable plans for specific situations.
Best* plans for cash-strapped international callers
Rationale: You’re not flush with cash, but you need to have a service that supports international calling, preferably with some inclusions specifically geared towards those types of calls.
If you want to control your costs, then Lebara’s Mini Mega Plan, which gives you 1,000 calling minutes to selected countries, may be a good fit. Lycamobile is the other well-known player in the international calling space, and its Unlimited S plan includes unlimited calls to Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The unlimited 1.5GB plan through amaysim offers unlimited international calling minutes to China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, United Kingdom and the US as well as unlimited texts to Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, the US and Vietnam. As long as these suit your needs it’s an excellent choice at its price point.
Alternatively, if what you need is a flexible prepaid deal that includes options for international calling, consider Vodafone’s prepaid Talk Combo plans.
While we can’t cover every calling country, here’s a sample of call costs across these plans:
|Example call costs|
|Destination||Lebara Mini Mega (Includes $24.90 worth of international call credit)||Lycamobile Unlimited S (Includes 30 minutes to select countries)||Vodafone $40 Talk Combo (Includes 1090 minutes to select countries)||amaysim Unlimited 5GB (Includes|
Best* plans for heavy usage international callers
Rationale: You call overseas every single day, whether it’s for business or personal purposes, but you need a plan that won’t break the bank. Unlimited calls are preferable for this type of use, although it’s worth remembering that most plans have acceptable use policies that won’t quite allow you to keep the line open 24/7.
Lebara’s Unlimited plan offers unlimited calls to 50 countries. Specifically, that’s unlimited calls to landlines and mobiles in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, French Guiana, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Puerto Rico, Reunion, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
It also offers unlimited fixed line calls (but not mobile ones) to Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan and Venezuela. Throw in 14GB of data to use in Australia and unlimited standard national calls and SMS, and it’s a very compelling deal.
Equally compelling could be Lycamobile’s competing Unlimited L plan, which bundles in unlimited landline and mobile calls to Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cyprus Greek, Czech republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, French Guiana, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Israel, Japan, Korea South, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Reunion Island, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, UK, USA and Venezuela.
Again, covering every country and call type in a single table would be impractical and near impossible to read, but here’s a sample comparison of rates across these two plans.
|Example call costs|
|Destination||Lebara Unlimited||Lycamobile Unlimited L|
|South Africa||20c/min||3c/min (landline) / 15c/min (landline)|
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