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Since I've been recently abroad, I want to share with you a cool way to avoid the usual high roaming charges. With this idea, international roaming calls you make will be charged as local calls and this is possible with the help of Rebtel's cheap international calling service. If you already have a Rebtel account, you probably know the basic principles of their service but for the rest, I am going to make a short introduction of Rebtel before delving into particulars about how to cut your international roaming charges.
Rebtel offer a service that allows you to make cheap international calls by calling a preliminary assigned local number instead of your contact's foreign number. When you create a Rebtel account you have to add your international contacts in it so the service can assign a unique local number for each of your friends or relatives. This means that if you are in the United Kingdom, Rebtel will create UK local numbers for all of your contacts which you can use forever from then on. The trick is that when you call one of these local numbers, you are still able to talk with your foreign friends but the international part of the call is accomplished over the Internet. The result is that you only pay for the local call and a small charge for the service provided by Rebtel. As far as I know Rebtel's service is provided in about 50 countries in the world and you can check their calling rates from country to country by using the box on the left.
Now about the mobile roaming. In order to use Rebtel to your advantage while being abroad, you will need to purchase a local SIM card on arrival in the foreign country. It doesn't have to be some special international roaming SIM card but the one offering the cheapest calling rates for making local calls in the particular country. Having a local SIM card enables you to use a cell phone calls provider originating in the foreign country and thus you can avoid the hefty international roaming charges that your domestic provider normally charge. When you buy the new SIM card, you have to add it to your Rebtel account and new local numbers will be automatically created for your previously saved contacts. Now, you can dial to any of your contacts back home by using these new local numbers and the charges for the international part of the call will be avoided in a way similar to the already described before. So, this was the easier part.
The trickier task (if you want to achieve it at all) is to receive cheaper calls from your relatives or friends when you're abroad. In order to call you they have three options: either to dial your old number; to call to the number of your new local SIM card; or to create a Rebtel account themselves and call to your new number without paying for an international call by using the standard Rebtel service. Of course, the best option for them (without even knowing that you're abroad) would be to dial your usual old number. But in order to avoid the international roaming fees in this case you have to forward your old number to an assigned by Rebtel number to your new foreign local SIM card. Thus, the international part of the call would be practically between your old number and your new SIM card but since this forwarding will be serviced by Rebtel, you will avoid the roaming charges for it. Now, this might seem like an additional trouble (although it involves nothing more than just entering the number of your new foreign SIM card into your Rebtel account in order to get an assigned Rebtel number for it and just one forwarding from your domestic number to the assigned new number after that) but the good news is you can simply ignore the task of making the incoming roaming calls cheaper cause the prices for them are significantly lower than the prices for outgoing calls.
Having said the above, we should stress that this solution may not be always better than using just the conventional international roaming service of your domestic mobile provider. For example, if you plan to call back home only once or just to receive a couple of short calls from your relatives at home, using your usual phone number won't lead to very high roaming charges. Yet in other cases you can save considerably by using Rebtel's service abroad. Some proper usages would include:
- staying abroad for a long period of time;
- making a lot of calls back home over a long or even a short period of time;
- making (even a few) very long calls to your home country.
Usually, since the international roaming charges are in times lower for receiving incoming calls than for making outgoing ones, if you only plan to receive calls, probably you don't have to bother for the roaming charges too much. If you intend to initiate calls yourself, it's good to consider the Rebtel option. You should check their prices from the country you're visiting to your own country and also the prices of the local SIM cards in the country you will temporarily reside in. Having both in mind, you should be able to make the best decision for your particular situation.
Of course, even if you don't plan to use international roaming a lot, you can still create a Rebtel account in case you don't have one yet cause you can always use it for making cheap international calls even when you are home (which is Rebtel's service primary intention anyway). And remember that calling to international landline phones is up to tens of times cheaper than the calls to international mobile phones so Rebtel can bring you even higher savings in this area.
I am glad to inform you that a couple of days after publishing this article Rebtel offered our site a coupon for 100% bonus on first deposits so if you want to sign up and try their service (they offer also a first free call) use this link which will automatically land you on the page with the bonus offer (I do not know exactly how long the offer will be valid but I hope it will stay active until the end of December).