So I’ve always liked Skype it’s a great backup for my cell phone and it’s great for calling home when I’m on vacation but you’ve got to have a computer of some sort to use it. At 2.3 cents per minute, it’s hard to beat the price to call the US (as long as you’ve got a semi-decent internet connection). Although, some internet cafes have it all set up already, one internet cafe in Egypt had it installed with a microphone, I just stopped to check my mail but I got on Skype, made a call or two (for 2.3 cents a minute) and I was done!
It’s always confusing to use the pay phones, and they really get you when you use a hotel room for long distance (sometimes even if you use a calling card or calling local). Not that I always talk a lot when I travel (I do when I travel alone) but I always feel like I’m being initiated when trying to figure out long distance calling when in a foreign country. They only charge 2.3 cents to US phones (plus a 4.9 cents per call fee), other countries have different rates. Note that the charges are just to phones, if you call someone else’s computer who is using Skype it’s free, but that’s not always a convenience.
Now if you’re paying for the internet it’s costing you a little more, but it’s still probably cheaper than using a phone. If you’ve got free internet in your room or somewhere, you’re all set. If you’ve got to haul your laptop down to a cafe or something it gets inconvenient, you’ll probably want a headset with microphone for some privacy. Keep in mind some places might not like you using up their bandwidth for a phone call, so be discrete.The goofy* thing is that it’s 2.3 cents to call the US wherever I am, from next door, Egypt or Costa Rica it’s all 2.3 cents! But with the same reasoning it’s 6.4 cents to call Costa Rica, that’s if I’m here in Michigan or down there.
Skype also has unlimited rates (for personal use) for some countries: for the United States it’s about $27 a year for unlimited calling to the U.S., although if you don’t use it enough (you need well over 1,00 minutes a year to break even, you might be better with $10 of time and have about 450 minutes of time (or that same credit can be used for other countries at it’s rate).
FYI, I’ve ditched my landline phone at home and have just my cellular phone. So I programmed Skype with my local police/fire number so if I ever have a crisis I can at least use my computer for an emergency phone call (if needed). I just called up and said, I’ve just got a cell phone what’s the best non-911 number to call when I have an emergency.Here’s how it normally works, they lease a bunch of phone lines around the world, it’s your job (using the Internet) to place the call using the Internet. Depending on the location they set the price, Egypt for example is 18.5 cents a minute, they don’t care where you are calling from (the USA, Egypt or from the same house you are calling to) since you’re paying for the internet it still costs 18.5 cents for them to make that call to Egypt.
* – It’s not really goofy, it’s what they pay for phone calls at the destination, the Internet probably doesn’t cost Skype any more regardless of where I’m calling from.