Your Money: DIALLING A GOOD DEAL
(Sunday Mirror Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) PLANNING on phoning loved ones overseas this Christmas? Those long-haul calls can really hurt your pocket, so don't pay more than you need to.
According to research by Orange, two-thirds of us will make international calls over Christmas with the most popular country to dial being the US, then Australia.
The average international caller will spend over an hour on the phone in the lead up to and on the big day, while one in ten will spend three hours or more.
Karen Darby, chief executive of comparison website SimplySwitch.com, said: "If you have friends or family overseas who you call regularly, it is well worth doing a bit of legwork to find the best deal."
One way to reduce overseas call costs is to ask your phone company if they offer an international calling package that can be added to your existing deal.
Our table below shows some of the best deals available. For example, under BT's Option 1, an offpeak call to the USA or Australia would normally cost 10p a minute.
But if you added BT's International option, which costs pounds 1 a month, the cost of off-peak calls to the USA and Australia drops to 3p.
If you rarely make overseas calls then an alternative is to buy pre-pay credit. First telecom allow you to set up an account with pounds 23.50. When calling overseas, you simply enter your account number and PIN and then make the call.
Calls to the US cost 1.5p a minute, and Australia and Spain cost 2p a minute.
Another way to cut international call costs is to use your computer through a system called Voice over Internet Protocol, otherwise known as VoIP.
A spokesman for uSwitch.com said: "There are three main different ways to use VoIP, depending on the provider you are with. Skype customers make calls directly from their PC, using a special headset and software that needs to be downloaded".
Vonage customers connect a box to their broadband modem, then connect their standard phone to the box and make calls in the conventional way. Tesco VoIP customers also need to download software and are given a special phone to plug in.
They would save nearly pounds 10 on a two-hour call to Australia.
Steve Weller, of uswitch.com, said: "It's clear VoIP is a great way to save money on calling abroad. But the range of international calling plans and other landline options show there's no reason to write off the home phone just yet.
"Christmas is an expensive time and a few pounds here and there can really mount up - so if you have family or friends abroad, plan ahead and make sure you don't miss out on savings by not shopping around."
Copyright 2006 . MGN Ltd.
Alcatel Lucent Energizing the Edge
Interview with SIPfish