As you may have already discovered, if you call +61 and start dialing Australia, you may be in for a fright when your phone plan arrives at the end of the month and finding reliable information about who to trust when making international calls can be difficult. So here's a comparison of the most reliable ways to call international from the USA.
Let's start with how most people connect. This is just for those who don't want to sign up for something else.
Comparing the major phone carriers for international calls
… but in reality, these aren't great.
Verizon for international calls to Australia
Verizon offers an “Unlimited Together World” plan for $15/month which drops international rates to Australia to $0.23/minute to landlines and mobiles if you're on prepaid. For postpaid plan customers, it drops the rate to $0.07 for landlines and $0.23/minute for mobiles.
Calling Australia with prepaid Verizon (without the above plan) is going to set you back $1.74/minute for calls to mobiles and landlines. If you do the same thing from a postpaid plan, it costs more (!?) and is going to cost $2.49/minute to mobiles and landlines.
Not the worst deal, but still pretty pricey if you're planning on making regular calls. 3/5 red ticks.
AT&T isn't ideal for international calls
I'd once again like to point out to anyone listening at AT&T that your website is the single most confusing website I've ever been to, to find information. Fix it. Please.
If you're on a prepaid plan ($35, $45, $50, $65, and $85 Monthly Plans) you can add a “$10 International Plus” add-on which will give you 1,000 minutes to Australian landlines ONLY. After you reach this 1,000-minute limit (I hope they send you a note) they start charging you at $1.09/minute (although I'm not sure if mobiles are more expensive, see above note about crappy website). There is also a “$5 International” option, which gives you 250 minutes in the same deal as above.
For those of you on postpaid, you have another matrix to negotiate. If you add “AT&T World Connect® Advantage” to your account for $15/month (if you're “eligible”, God knows what that means), you can call Australian landlines an unlimited amount of times, and mobiles for $0.24/minute. Alternatively, you also have the option to add “AT&T World Connect Value®” to your account for $5/month which gives you discounted rates of $0.09/minute to landlines and $0.24/minute to mobiles.
The standard rate is an outrageous $4.00/minute, so definitely don't do that. That's just silly.
Not a great deal at all if you're actually planning on making any of these calls, 1/5 blue globes.
T-Mobile is ok for international calls
When comparing T-Mobile plans you will see that the major T-Mobile ONE (postpaid), T-Mobile ONE Prepaid, and Simply Prepaid all have an option of adding “stateside international talk” for $15/month. This includes unlimited calling from your mobile to landlines in Australia, but for calling mobiles, you still have to pay $0.07/minute. You do however get unlimited texts to Australia included on all plans.
Without it, calling Australia is a whopping $3.00/min! Don't do that. You'll go broke before Thanksgiving.
Better options for making international calls
First things first, I have to mention that WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and just about every other chat app on your phone now has a voice option that is free. Obviously, this requires you to have an account at both ends so I do understand that some people have less savvy contacts at the other end and this isn't an option. But worth mentioning because it's free!
The following are third-party services that require signups but can call landlines and mobiles.
Skype is a wonderful option for international calls
The big gun when it comes to online calls.
Skype presents a few different options to newcomers including packaged plans and a pay-as-you-go option.
If you go with pay-as-you-go the rates are $0.023/minute to landlines and $0.10/minute to mobiles.
Package options (to Australia) include:
- 300 minutes of calls to landlines and mobiles for $6.99/month ($0.023/minute)
- 100 minutes of calls to landlines and mobiles for $3.99/month ($0.04/minute)
- Unlimited calls to landlines and mobiles for $19.99/month
- Unlimited calls to landlines for $3.99/month
This isn't a bad deal but would probably require you to call often to make it worth it. I give it 4/5 Microsofts.
Google Voice is a great alternative for calling international
Google Voice actually just got an update today, so that's exciting! You get a free number from Google, which then lets you make calls to whatever country you'd like for a per-minute rate without obligation.
Australia for comparison is $0.01/minute for landlines and $0.04/minute for mobiles.
This is a damn fine deal, so I give this one 5/5 Alphabets.
The winner for the best deal to call international
I think Google Voice is probably your winner overall, and (begrudgingly) T-Mobile is probably best if you already have an account with them!
Have I missed any? Comment below!
Please note: These rates were current at the time of writing. There may also be other unrelated fees, charges, taxes, and connection costs that I have not listed.