international phone call tips

International Phone Calls: 7 Money-Saving Tips

October 19, 2023 - Ralf Beyeler

Making international phone calls from Switzerland can be very expensive. These tips from explain how to save money without cutting down on calls.

Official statistics on long-distance communications show that nearly 2 billion minutes of phone calls are made from Switzerland to other countries every year. Read these seven useful tips to get the most international call time for your money.

1. Avoid calling at standard rates

The default international calling rates charged by many telecom service providers are very high. This applies to both landline plans and mobile plans. Depending on the country and service provider, standard rates can be as high as several francs per minute. Mobile calls are typically more expensive than landline calls.

Because standard rates are high, picking up your phone and making calls at going rates can be an expensive habit. Taking time to get informed about the current best offers for international calling is a much smarter move. Many Swiss telecom service providers have cheaper alternatives to standard rates, but may require that you add a special bundle or use a specific plan.

2. Use VoIP apps

There are now numerous voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services and mobile apps which you can use to make free calls over the Internet to other online devices anywhere in the world. Skype and Whatsapp are among the most popular VoIP services. Apple’s Facetime also lets you make video and audio calls at no extra cost. Threema, a VoIP app developed by a Swiss company, allows for secure, encrypted calls. Across all apps and services, VoIP calling generally only works if both you and the person you are calling have the same app installed on your phones or other devices.

Many apps also let you make phone calls to landline and mobile phone numbers, so that you can also call people who do not use the app. Normally, you are charged for these external calls on a per-minute basis. Take time to compare prices because many service providers charge low fees. Examples include Skype, Peoplefone, and Sipcall.

3. Use international calling options

Many service providers offer special options which can be added to your mobile plan. These options let you make cheaper calls to specific countries. These options can be worth getting if you make international phone calls regularly.

4. Check out offers from smaller telecom service providers

There are a number of smaller Swiss telecom service providers which specialize in international calling. These include Lebara, Yallo, Lycamobile and Mucho. It is common to find international calling offers with rates as low as 1 centime per minute or even 0 centimes per minute being advertised.

Important: It is common for service providers to charge a call setup fees in addition to per-minute rates. These call setup fees partially negate the advantage of low rates. The mobile plan comparison on accounts for call setup fees.

5. Use flat-fee plans

Today, the Swiss telecom market offers many mobile plans which let you make unlimited international calls for a flat monthly fee. International calling allowances are often included in more expensive mobile and landline plans. Some telecom service providers offer optional bundles which can be added to your plan and let you make unlimited phone calls to specific countries for a flat fee.

6. Check the geographical coverage of flat-fee plans

If you have a flat-fee plan or plan to use one for international calls, check which countries are included in its international calling allowances.

Calls to neighboring countries are always included in international calling flat fees. International calls to European Union member countries are typically included as well. Balkan countries like Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo are not normally included. Asian, African and South American countries are also normally excluded from flat-fee offers.

It is also important to check whether the international calling allowances which you get flat-fee offers include calls to foreign mobile numbers, or whether they are limited foreign landline numbers.

7. Compare all available offers

Make sure to compare all current offers to find out which solution is most affordable for your specific international calling needs. The countries you call to, the average length of your phone calls and other factors all determine which service provider and offer is best for you. This applies to both landline plans and mobile plans, with or without supplementary options.

Important: Some plans provide very affordable international calling from Switzerland, but have high charges for other phone services. For example, there are service providers which provide cheap phone calls from Switzerland to other countries, but charge high rates for mobile roaming outside of Switzerland.

When comparing offers it is important to consider all aspects of your telecom needs. In additional to international calling, you may also need calls, SMS messaging and mobile data within Switzerland and call or data roaming outside of Switzerland. The interactive mobile plan comparison on accounts for all of these things to help you find the solution that best matches your overall needs.

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at and also covers other areas of personal finance.
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