You don’t need a special SIM card for making international calls: services such as “Skype To Go” allow you to make cheap international calls from any mobile network.

Making an international phone call can typically be very expensive from your mobile phone. Many mobile networks charge up to £1.50/minute for international calls meaning that a 30 minute phone call back home could rack up a bill as large as £45.

There are several popular methods for reducing the cost of international calls. One method is to opt for bundles from your mobile operator: for example O2’s International Favourites package offers 3000 minutes of calls to landlines in selected countries for £10/month. These bundles can be great value if you regularly make a lot of phone calls to landline numbers abroad (they tend to provide poor value when calling mobile numbers abroad).

Another popular solution is to opt for a specialist international calls provider such as Lebara Mobile or Lycamobile (see our Lycamobile review). These providers offer low cost phone calls from several pennies per minute but require you to place their SIM card in your unlocked phone. Typically you’ll need to use them as your main mobile phone network which involves switching your mobile number over.

The third solution is to use an override provider for your international phone calls. This allows you to keep your existing mobile phone network and phone number and can sometimes offer even lower rates than a specialist provider such as Lebara Mobile  or Lycamobile.

A popular and easy-to-use override provider is Skype To Go. Skype To Go creates a new UK-based landline number which is linked to a designated phone number abroad. Using your UK-based mobile phone (all networks are supported), simply call the Skype To Go number and you’ll be connected to your friends and family abroad. This is typically at fractions of the price of calling abroad directly. For example, calling a Chinese mobile phone using Skype To Go would cost 1.4p/minute whereas calling the number directly on O2 would cost £1.54/minute (110 times as much as calling via Skype To Go!).

How does the cost of calling abroad compare using different methods?

Using an override provider such as Skype To Go can typically cut the cost of international phone calls between 10 and 100 times. In some cases, it can also be cheaper than specialist providers. For example, calling a landline in France would cost 92p/minute from your O2 mobile phone, 7p/minute using a specialist provider such as Lebara and 1.4p/minute using Skype To Go as an override provider. Compared to making a phone call directly from your mobile phone, this represents a 65 times saving. There is a 5 times saving compared to specialist providers such as Lebara.

In the following table, we have used the call charges of O2 and Lebara as indicative of typical mobile networks and specialist providers. The exact costs may vary depending on your network provider and tariff. The costs of a Skype To Go call is also shown. Note that if you do not have inclusive minutes on your contract, your mobile operator may additionally bill you for a UK landline call when accessing your Skype To Go number. We recommend adding “unlimited landline calls” to your package (most networks offer it for around £5/month) or checking out “unlimited calls” packages such as O2’s On and On and T-Mobile’s The Full Monty.

Call Destination Type O2 Standard Call Specialist Provider (Lebara) Using Skype To Go Number*
Australia (+86) Landline £1.03/minute 2p/minute 1.4p/minute
Mobile £1.03/minute 6p/minute 11.8p/minute
China (+86) Landline £1.54/minute 1p/minute 1.4p/minute
Mobile £1.54/minute 3p/minute 1.4p/minute
France (+33) Landline 92p/minute 7p/minute 1.4p/minute
Mobile 92p/minute 19p/minute 11.9p/minute
Germany (+49) Landline 92p/minute 7p/minute 1.4p/minute
Mobile 92p/minute 19p/minute 14.5p/minute
Hong Kong (+852) Landline £1.03/minute 1p/minute 1.4p/minute
Mobile £1.03/minute 3p/minute 1.4p/minute
Japan (+81) Landline £1.03/minute 5p/minute 1.6p/minute
Mobile £1.03/minute 19p/minute 9.9p/minute
USA (+1) Landline £1.54/minute 6p/minute 1.4p/minute
Mobile £1.54/minute 6p/minute 1.4p/minute

* Your mobile phone operator will also charge you for a call to a UK landline if your package doesn’t come with inclusive minutes. Many mobile operators allow you to add “Unlimited landline calls” to your contract for as little as £5/month. If you’re likely to use ‘Skype To Go’ on a regular basis, it’s also worth checking out packages such as O2’s On and On and T-Mobile’s The Full Monty. They offer unlimited calls from £21/month.

How does Skype To Go work?

Skype To Go is a service provided by internet calling service Skype. Skype is best known for providing free PC-to-PC calls over an internet connection. Because the internet-based calls bypass traditional phone networks and are transmitted over the internet instead, there is no charge for Skype calls.

“Skype To Go” is an adaptation of this principle. A call is made over traditional mobile networks in the UK between you and Skype’s computers. Skype then uses the internet to transmit your phone call digitally into one of their servers in a different country. That server will then initiate a traditional mobile phone call on the other end. Because the call is carried over the internet for the majority of the way there, the price is substantially cheaper than making a normal call.

In order to use “Skype To Go”, you are provided with a UK-based landline number to access the service. This can be in the area code of your choice with London (020) being a popular choice. You can set up a “Skype To Go” number on the Skype website.

Where can I find out more about Skype To Go?

You can find out more about “Skype To Go” on the Skype website.

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  • How does this service compare to Rebtel, Jaja and many other competitors?

    What was the rationale for featuring this particular service?


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