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Phone calls abroad

I have written before (say, here) about the calling plan that we have in the UK. The name of the plan is TalkTalk and it is with the company called Carphone Warehouse. For a basic monthly charge of £20, we do not pay anything at all for landline calls. And not only within the UK, but also within 35 other countries (pretty much all of Europe, plus Canada, Australia, New Zealand and, most importantly, the US). Calls to mobiles and to toll service lines are extra, but that amounts to a minuscule amount, while allowing us practically unlimited phone time with friends and family. (There is a 69-minute limit, after which the charges start accruing, but simply hang up, redial, and you have yourself another hour-plus of free talk).

Except, Russia is not one of the 35 countries covered by the free service and is quite costly to call. Natasha, obviously, regularly calls her family there, and the frequency of her calls has understandably increased of late. At something around 60p a minute, though, lengthy frequent calls would run us huge charges…

The solution? Easy. Buy an American calling card that gives you 400 minutes for $5, and dial through its US-based access number. Since calling the US is free for us, the cost of the call is exactly what it would be by using the calling card from, say, a New Jersey landline. Ingenious!

Of course, these calling cards never deliver on their promise, and with hidden charges and what not, you probably only get 100 minutes or so, but the difference between 5¢ and 60p per minute is quite considerable, wouldn’t you say?


  1. Ari

    We’re using TalkTalk, as well, and our plan (TalkTalk 3 International) has a Russia tariff of 4p per minute (landlines only) as long as you dial 18418. Which plan do you guys have?

  2. Ilya

    Opa! When we started with TalkTalk a year ago, we had to dial 18418 to get the “free call” effect to the 26 covered countries, of which Russia was not one. I don’t recall the exact tariff to Russia then, but it was certainly higher than 4p. Sometime in the middle of last year, TalkTalk stopped requiring the prefix for free calls. I’m guessing around that time they introduced cheaper tariffs to many other countries via 18418, which we missed. We’ll have to check it out. Thanks, Ari!

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