How to Make FREE Wi-Fi Calls While Traveling Overseas
When traveling overseas, one of the questions you’re going to have is how to make phone calls from your smartphone.
You have two options: pay to use a wireless carrier service (could be expensive), or use a Wi-Fi alternative (could be free). If you have a modern smartphone, both of these options are likely to be available to you right in your phone.
From a practical point of view, a wireless service will give you access to making calls from nearly anywhere, where a Wi-Fi option will require you to be connected to a Wi-Fi network which has a significantly smaller broadcast range.
Therefore, you must first determine if you want the likely anywhere/anytime convenience of cellular service, or are you willing to hunt down a Wi-Fi signal to make a call. And of course, this whole conversation changes depending on where you are. If you’re out in the middle of the African bush, you’re likely to have no cellular signal. However, your camp might have a wireless signal. Complicated. Isn’t it?
As this is an article about making calls with Wi-Fi, let’s focus on that.
Two Wi-Fi Calling Options
Call Your Wireless Carrier
The first call you might want to make in order to make Wi-Fi calls is with your cellular phone company. Most late-model smartphones have built-in Wi-Fi calling capability and the U.S. wireless carriers have responded in kind with Wi-Fi service for their customers.
Carol and I have Verizon as our wireless carrier and here’s what they make available to us:
Wi-Fi Calling allows you to make and receive calls over a Wi-Fi network if cellular is not available.
The benefits of Wi-Fi Calling include:
- It’s included at no additional charge with your existing voice plan and compatible device.
- You can make and receive calls in Wi-Fi using your phone number.
- Wi-Fi calls to US numbers are free, even while traveling internationally.
- Video Calls no longer require an LTE connection to be initiated in Wi-Fi.
- The Wi-Fi Calling feature is available at no additional charge, as it is included in your existing monthly voice plan. Your Wi-Fi calls to US numbers, regardless of where you are located, are also free of charge (except for 411 and other premium calls). Wi-Fi calls to international numbers will be billed as “International Calling While in the US” (also known as International Long Distance). If an international rate plan exists on your account, the international calls will be billed at those rates. A Wi-Fi Calling icon will appear on your screen during the call to confirm that it is using Wi-Fi to connect it. If the call is using the Verizon or a roaming network, standard voice charges apply.
So, this is nice, right? If you want to call back to the U.S. at night, you can make the call on a Wi-Fi network for free. And, you can use your existing phone number. However, if you want to call a local European restaurant for a reservation, you can do that on the Wi-Fi network, but you’re going to be billed your carriers standard wireless roaming rates.
Download a Free Wi-Fi Calling App
Another option to make Wi-Fi calls is to download a free Wi-Fi calling app. Carol and I use a free Wi-Fi app from the folks at Wireless Traveler. While there are no free calls to be made, except with those who are also on the Wireless Traveler network, you’ll find incredibly low rates to call any number in the world. In fact, the rates are as low at 2 cents/minute.
Here’s the benefits of this app:
- Crystal Clear Wifi Calls
- Calls as low as 2 ¢/minute
- Free App to App
- Call landlines & cell phones
- Domestic & international calling
- Works in over 200 countries
- US Telephone Number
- Download App for free & start saving
Bottom Line: informed international travelers will appreciate the significant cost savings offered by Wi-Fi calling. However, as you can see, it has its limits. When Carol and I travel internationally, we have three options available on our phones:
- Our Verizon Wi-Fi service to make free calls to the U.S. from our hotel room.
- Our free Wireless Traveler App to make very inexpensive calls anywhere in the world as long as we’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.
- And, expensive cellular service should we need it.
Hope this helps. If you have any questions, or perhaps further recommendations, leave ’em in the comments section below.
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for our monthly newsletter to keep abreast of our best travel tips, on-location reviews, exclusive travel offers, group travel events, and much more.