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Best network for international calling

8th July 2020

International Calling

International calling rates is an often overlooked aspect of mobile networks, but it’s an important one if you have friends or family who live abroad.

Standard rates are often high for international calls, especially if you’re making a lot of them, but the good news is that many networks offer bundles or packs that make the cost a lot lower.

It’s these that we’ll focus on here, looking at the best options available in the UK. Below you’ll find our picks in no particular order (as which is best depends on your need), so give them a read and for full details of each network, click through to our main network reviews, which you’ll find linked for each entry.

EE

EE offers two packs that existing customers can add to their plans. There’s the International pack and the International Extra pack.

EE International Packs

Pack

Bundle

Monthly Price

International pack

(50 countries)

1000 minutes

£10

International extra

(100 countries)

500 minutes

£20

The International pack gives you 1,000 international minutes that you can use for landlines and mobiles in 50 countries, including major destinations like the US, Australia, India, China, Canada, and much of Europe. It costs £10 per month, meaning you’re paying just 1p per minute.

The International Extra pack despite its name actually gives you fewer minutes – just 500, and costs more at £20 per month (equating to 4p per minute), but it extends the list of countries to 100, so you can call mobiles and landlines in much of the world.

You can find the full list of locations for both packs here.

Three

Three has an International Saver add-on for contract customers that gives you 3,000 minutes to call abroad with for the odd price of £15.32 per month.

Three International Add-ons

Add-on

Bundle

Monthly Price

International Saver

(28 destinations)

3000 minutes

£15.32

It auto-renews every month and at the time of writing works for calls to 28 destinations, including the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, China, and many more. You’ll find all the locations here.

Vodafone

If you’re a contract customer on Vodafone then you can get a 100 international minutes add-on for £3 per month. This is called Saver 100, and the minutes work in 100 destinations, such as Australia, the US, China, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and many, many more.

The network also offers Saver 500, which for £7.50 per month will give you 500 minutes to use in the same selection of countries. The full list of locations can be found here.

Vodafone International Add-ons

Add-on

Bundle

Monthly Price

Saver 100

(100 destinations)

100 minutes

£3

Saver 500

(100 destinations)

500 minutes

£7.50

On top of this, Vodafone also offers ways to reduce international calling costs for pay as you go customers. There’s an ‘Extra International Minutes’ add-on, which gives you 50 minutes for £5 per month, or you can add ‘Vodafone International’ to your pay as you go plan for free, to make calls abroad from just 2p per minute.

Vodafone PAYG International Add-ons

Add-on

Bundle

Price

Extra International Minutes

(229 destinations)

50 minutes

£5

Vodafone International

(229 destinations)

Reduced rates from 2p per minute.

Free

The list of included destinations for both options can be found here, but it includes much of Europe, along with places like the US, China and India.

O2

O2 has a slightly more complicated approach than some, as it charges just £3 per month for its International bolt-on, which lets you call international landlines and mobiles from just 1p per minute.

O2 International Bolt-on

Bolt-on

Bundle

Monthly Price

International bolt-on

(Over 200 destinations)

Reduced rates from 1p per minute

£3

That ‘from’ is key though, as some locations cost more, and mobiles often cost more than landlines, though prices are still less than they would be without the bolt-on.

You can call the US, Australia, and China for 2p per minute for example, and in the US and China you’ll also pay 2p per minute to call a mobile – but it goes up to 12p per minute for mobiles in Australia. The full list and prices can be found here.

Sky Mobile

For just £3 per month, Sky Mobile lets you add its ‘International Saver’ service to your plan. This is similar to O2’s service, in that it gives you a discount on calls and texts to over 60 destinations, however, unlike O2’s varied rate, on Sky it’s a flat (albeit often higher) rate of 5p per minute whether calling landlines or mobiles.

Sky Mobile International Add-on

Add-on

Bundle

Monthly Price

International saver

(Over 60 destinations)

5p per minute to mobiles and landlines

£3

Texts for what it’s worth are mostly 10p, but for some places they’re just 6p. The full list is similar to most other international calling schemes, but can be found on page 26 of this document.

Lebara Mobile

Lebara Mobile is built with international calling in mind, meaning that both SIM-only and pay as you go plans come with international calls included as standard.

You can get minutes for 41 destinations, and in many cases you’ll get unlimited minutes, which is a rarity for international calls. However, there are a number of plans available depending on how many minutes you need and how much you want to spend.

As these are standard plans they also include UK minutes, texts, and data, and at the top end you can get unlimited everything – though data is limited to 4G at the time of writing.

The countries that are included cover the likes of Australia, Austria, Germany, China, the US, Spain, Singapore, and many other places.

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Lycamobile

Lycamobile is a similar prospect to Lebara Mobile, in that international minutes are included as standard with most plans.

However, there’s a wider selection of plans and they don’t all include international calls to the same places. Some only include one or two countries, like India or Pakistan, which is ideal if you only really want to call those places, while other gives you minutes to use in 41 destinations – the same number as Lebara.

You can see the full list here, but there’s a lot of overlap with other networks, meaning most of the key places are included. As with Lebara you can also get unlimited international minutes on some plans.

VOXI

VOXI has a ‘100 International Minutes’ extra add-on that you can purchase for £3 per month and which gives you 100 minutes to use in 100 destinations. This is very similar to one of Vodafone’s offerings. Which is no accident, as Vodafone runs VOXI. However, VOXI doesn’t have the other international calling options that Vodafone offers.

Voxi International Add-on

Bolt-on

Bundle

Monthly Price

100 International minutes

(100 destinations)

100 minutes

£3

Included locations for the 100 International Minutes add-on can be seen here, but it covers the likes of the US, Thailand, Russia, India, much of Europe, and more.

Conclusion

Depending on your needs you might find any of the above international calling options good, but there are a few things to note.

In terms of sheer number of inclusive locations, Vodafone and VOXI are the winners – with Vodafone winning overall for having more international add-ons available.

If you don’t want to worry about an add-on and just want to have the international minutes come as standard, then Lebara or Lycamobile are the obvious choices – they’re also the ones to go for if you want unlimited minutes (though Three and EE come close with 3,000 minutes and 1,000 minutes respectively).

Meanwhile, if you want to keep the core cost low, then Vodafone, O2, Sky Mobile and VOXI are good bets, as they all have options that are just £3 per month, though in the case of Vodafone and VOXI that doesn’t give you many minutes, while in the case of Sky and O2 it just gives you discounted minutes – so the price goes up as soon as you start making calls.

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