If you have family and friends overseas staying in touch can get quite expensive on both sides, the same is true if you’re travelling or studying abroad so finding an affordable and reliable way to make cheap international calls is essential.

Not to worry, in this article we’ll explore the options I use for making cheap international calls when calling my family back home and when I’m travelling internationally.


Calling Apps

Before we cover the free options I thought it’d be best to start with the option that I rely on most because it allows for both free and paid calling options.

Apps like Yabb Messenger have found a way to offer cheap international calling rates similar to those found with international phone cards which is great.

Also, if both you and the person you’re talking with have a reliable internet connection then you can make a free voice or video call (VoIP).

By bundling these two options inside one calling app I’m able to reduce my yearly calling expenses while having good call quality.


  • Allows you to call both landlines and mobiles
  • Uses copper phone lines so the call quality is greater than VoIP
  • Cheap international calling rates
  • Has VoIP option as well so you can make free video and voice calls


  • It’s not free to make calls over phone lines


Internet Calling (VoIP)

There are countless apps on the market now that allow you to make free voice and video calls and the technology is getting better meaning that you don’t need to have that monster broadband speed to make calls like in the past.

That said if you’re communicating inside developing countries or you live in an area that has slower internet then you’re going to bump into problems like lagging, call drops, trouble connecting, etc.


  • It’s free
  • It’s easy to use


  • Both parties need to have a solid internet connection
  • Need to have both parties on the same app


International Calling Cards

Back in the day this used to be my go to option and is actually my second most preferred method for communicating behind calling apps.

Calling cards are cheap, easy to find and generally have good call quality since they use phone lines.

There are two main downsides:

1: Making a call requires a multi-step process:

  • Step 1: Call the local access number
  • Step 2: Enter a unique PIN
  • Step 3: Dial the international number of the person you wish to call

2: It’s easy to get ripped off by phone card companies so you need to have a good set of buying criteria before selecting one.

Please do keep in mind that the phone card industry is rife with rogue companies so you’ll want to make sure that you do your due diligence when selecting a card.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Check for junk fees (admin and monthly maintenance costs)
  • Make sure there is a customer service number
  • Check the calling rates per minute including billing increments
  • Check for special fees (connection fees, disconnection fees, etc.)
  • Expiration dates
  • Is it rechargeable?


  • Perfect for making cheap international calls
  • Can be purchased online and in newsagent stores
  • Every country has them
  • Simple to use once you get used to them


  • Multi-step call process
  • A lot of scams