If you have friends or family that you regularly call, you should consider the cost saving possibilities with Skype (affiliate link). If you have friends or family overseas, you really need to check out Skype overseas calling options.
How Skype Changed the Dynamics of Overseas Calling
My family moved to Papua New Guinea in May 2006. At that time, there was only one option for calls to North America – the local land line. At that time, we paid $1.50 (USD) per minute.
After a year when we FINALLY got cell phones, (yes, in 2007) our rates for calls to North America dropped to 35 cents per minute off-peak and 50 cents per minute peak.
Then, just last year, (2009) high speed internet access pranced into town. With high speed internet, we also welcomed Skype to the mix.
Craig’s completely unrelated note: When I started semi-professionally blogging in May 2009, we did not have internet at our house. I started the blog on furlough and planned to make do when we got back. By the time we arrived back in PNG, we had high speed internet. It was so amazing. Just two months ago I got internet in my office. Long gone are the days of standing on my lawn trying to get a wireless signal.
Benefits of Skype:
No peak and off peak segments. You pay one rate regardless of the time of the call. This might not seem like a big deal unless you have lived overseas. I’ve had too many occasions where I had to wake up early or stay up late to call because I knew it was going to be a longer call.
No contracts required. You can pay month by month, so if you want to get a subscription for just one month, that is fine.
Free to sign up and activate account. You can start making free computer to computre calls as soon as you sign up.
Video calling features. You can use video (computer to computer). This is a great way for relatives to see growing kids. Unfortunately, in our case, our bandwidth is so limited that we cannot use the video features.
You can use Skype to send SMS’s.
Calling 1-800 numbers from outside the US. We’ve had problems calling 1-800 numbers from PNG. As a result, we’ve had to ask family members to make calls to 1-800 numbers on our behalf. However, using this service, we can now make free 1-800 calls to the US and Canada.
Skype Calling Rates
Computer to Computer
If you call from Skype on your computer to another customer, you pay nothing. This is true regardless of their location anywhere in the world. I can now talk with my parents for 30 minutes and there is no cost (other than my regular internet fees).
Skype call costs are almost non-existent. In our case, we pay around 2-3 cents per minute for calls to landlines in the United States and Canada. Sure beats the $1.50 per minute we used to pay just four years ago. That is a 98% savings.
One gripe I is that to make a call you need to buy units, but they start selling their units around $15.00. In my case, I knew that if I were to make 42 minutes of calls on my cell phone, it would cost the same as the Skype credits. With the $15.00 credit, I can now make about 500 minutes of calls, so I figured it was worth buying the $15.00 credit.
Just last week my wife called her parents in the States. The 20ish minute call cost around 60 cents. Sure beats $30.
Monthly Calling Plans
Unlimited calling to the United States and Canada only costs just shy of $2.50 per month. This includes calls to both landlines and mobile phones.
For about $12.00 per month, you can get unlimited calling worldwide (includes about 40 countries).
Not Just For Overseas Calls
How about unlimited calls in the States and Canada for $1.95? Not bad, eh?
Sure, you could pay $40.00 for a cell phone to say you are getting free minutes, or you could get a prepaid calling card and then make your unlimited calls from home with Skype. But, hey, I’m probably the only person who is willing to save $300 per year by calling on Skype instead of my cell phone.
Phone Call Quality
I’ve been quite impressed with the call quality. For us, during the day we get a terrible connection (this is due to our internet, not Skype). However, at night we often have a better connection. Truth be told, when we use either of our other phones we usually have a 2-3 second delay, so it’s not like there is a good alternative either way.
If you have good high speed internet and the receiver does too, you can expect clear and crisp calls.
Skype should not be used as an alternative to a landline/cell phone due to the necessity of emergency calling features. When your computer does not work, Skype will not work either.
Anyone else use Skype? How does it save you money?