Cheap international phone calls

I’ve had my OneSuite phone account for a few years and I use it to call friends in China (2.2 cents a minute) and Europe, quite conveniently. Onesuite is a prepaid “phone card” without the card. You get a PIN based on your phone number so it’s easy to remember. You add funds to your account via the website. I like the feature that allows you to add “frequently called from” phone numbers to your account so you don’t have to enter your PIN when calling.

There are several advantages OneSuite has over Internet calling systems such as Skype. With OneSuite you can use a regular phone, including a payphone — you don’t have to be connected to a computer. In all the times I’ve used OneSuite I’ve never experienced the distracting delays during the conversation which I have experienced with Skype and some other calling services (where you don’t hear the what the other person says until 1-2 seconds after they’ve said it. OneSuite claims it does not use Internet telephony so I guess that’s why.

Just as important, some, though not all, of OneSuite rates are often cheaper. I haven’t checked all of them but the two I looked at — China-Beijing and India-Hyderabad — are cheaper with OneSuite. Italy is cheaper to mobile phones but slightly more to land lines.

There’s no per-call surcharge and the per-minute rates are generally quite low. Your account “expires” after six months of non-use (where use includes adding funds). But you actually don’t lose your funds when it expires–you just need to add $10 and you’ll have your previous funds reactivated. (There’s no excuse to let it expire, though, as you can make domestic long-distance calls with the service too–2.5 cents/minute.)

It’s best calling from the U.S. to other countries, but they’re starting to add additional countries you can call from. They also offer voicemail and other services which I haven’t tried, but just the long-distance service is worth it for me. Basically, the prices are comparable and often cheaper than Skype, and you don’t have the worry about the reliability of Internet telephony (and don’t need a computer on the calling end).

11/24/06 -- Maria Blees