Receiving international calls on a mobile - expensive?
January 17, 2006 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Anyone placed a call from the US to a mobile phone in the UK? Or more importantly, been the recipient of such a call?

A friend in England (with no land line and very limited email access) just sent me her mobile phone number to make it easier to reach her. I'm not worried about the price of me making the call from the US, but I'm concerned whether or not she'll get nailed with a massive mobile bill for receiving an international call (or text). Think it would be treated on her end as any other incoming call, or would we both be caught paying high international rates? I of course emailed her back asking that very same question, but it could be weeks before I get a reply. Figured I'd check if you wise souls had any thoughts to tide me over. Unfortunately I don't know what provider she has, so I realize any answers will be purely anecdotal and we won't necessarily have the same results. Just curious if there's a consensus one way or the other.
posted by globetrotter30 to Grab Bag (18 answers total)
She should be fine.
posted by awesomebrad at 10:45 AM on January 17, 2006

You'll pay more for calling her on a cell. I believe I currently pay about $0.30/minute to dial a UK cell number (versus about $0.05 to dial a land line). I don't think there's any fee at all for the recipient.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:48 AM on January 17, 2006

It will cost you a ton (at least 35 cents a minute, maybe much much more) . It will cost her nothing.
posted by cushie at 10:49 AM on January 17, 2006

Cell phone users in Europe don't pay for incoming calls. The caller pays. That's why it's so much more expensive (for the caller) to call a cell phone versus a land line.
posted by AstroGuy at 10:53 AM on January 17, 2006

What everyone here says. I was the recipient of such calls. They're free. But not for you. Can't you use Skype or iChat?
posted by bonaldi at 10:58 AM on January 17, 2006

What AstroGuy said - in Europe you only pay to receive incoming calls if you're roaming in another country eg your account is in the UK and you receive the call in France.

For a cheaper call, use 1010987 - to cell phones it's 53 cents to connect but then only 15 cents per minute.
posted by forallmankind at 11:00 AM on January 17, 2006

Good good, I'm liking these answers! I hadn't even realized it would cost me more to call a cell phone than a land line, so color me enlightened.

Forallmankind, you've sparked another question: Say she is roaming in another country when I happen to call (she travels a lot, can't always keep up with where she is). Are we talking knock-your-socks-off prices she'd have to pay to receive a short call, or at worst a couple of pounds? Again, I know it depends on the carrier, blah blah blah, just looking for guidelines. Thanks!
posted by globetrotter30 at 11:12 AM on January 17, 2006

here's another link you can use.
. They provide very cheap international calling. It's like using a phone card but easier and doesn't require a pin numberThis works well if you're going to be calling a few specific international numbers a lot. I haven't used them yet but they look very good especially since I'm in need of such a service at the moment :P

I think their rate to the UK is .30 cents a minute or less but I'm not 100% sure. I'm currently looking at calls to the .DO and they are about 7 cents a minute which is an awesome deal.
posted by Stynxno at 11:14 AM on January 17, 2006

If you have pithy conversations, texting would be much cheaper.

Tmobile's international texts are $0.15 a go.
posted by lalochezia at 11:31 AM on January 17, 2006

If you want her to call you, she can call you for 2p per minute (about 3-4 cents) by using a free (to sign up) service like 18866, which is what I use. It's great that I can call mobiles in the US cheaper than I can call them in the UK!
posted by wackybrit at 11:50 AM on January 17, 2006

Yeah, if she's in another country she will pay the leg from the UK-->country where she receives the call. This is likely to be expensive (generally international UK mobile calls are a massive rip-off and can be £1 per minute). As long as you're both aware of the potential costs you (plural) can cut it short and get in touch a cheaper way if necessary.
posted by patricio at 11:51 AM on January 17, 2006

Great - thanks to all for your help and advice!
posted by globetrotter30 at 12:03 PM on January 17, 2006

Just to add to things - I would suggest that you look into getting a pre-paid phone card beforehand. I'm not sure where the people stating 30-35 cents a minute are, or who they use for long distance, but I got charged ~$1/min for calls to Canada, and somewhere in the ballpark of $2/min to call the UK from our home phone.

I bought a $10 Sprint pre-paid international phone card from a gas station, and that lasted for months of 20-30 minute calls to the UK on a weekly/bi-weekly basis.

So, yeah, look into what your long distance carrier is going to charge you before you make any calls. Big phone bills that could have been avoided suck.
posted by jcruden at 12:39 PM on January 17, 2006

You could always try skype. That is about as cheap as it can get.
posted by Todd Lokken at 12:55 PM on January 17, 2006

I use Verizon Wireless and pay $0.20/minute for phone calls to my parents in the UK. (Random anecdote)
posted by blue_beetle at 12:56 PM on January 17, 2006

I work for a phone company, and worked for MCI in Europe. If you intend to call the UK at all regularly you need to shop around for a cheap international phone tariff. The absolute cheapest way to call is with a prepaid card from a dubious asian grocery store (insert your local cut price immigrant minority).
I bought one labelled Hola Mexico in Las Vegas which was a couple of cents a minute.
You friend in the UK should do the same and use the calling card from a payphone or friend's/hotel's landline, not the mobile. In both cases you will be able to talk for ages for peanuts. Expect well under the 20c a minute touted above, more like 3c to landlines.
Use of the mobile while roaming is expensive, and a pound a minute sounds about right, but I concur with the recommendation to use SMS texting, along the lines of "text me the number of the landline where you are staying" or "call me when you get to a payphone".
If you look on the web you should be able to find web-based SMS services to contact UK mobiles for cheap or maybe free. Try (but be warned they will never forget your email address)
posted by bystander at 4:17 PM on January 17, 2006

for SMS, you may be able to use ICQ as well, they talk to a large numbers of phone companies.

Shop around for a phone card, like mentioned above, use skype, or talk to your long distance provider.. you may get lucky. (I talked for 10c/min cad to a cell in Denmark for a year)

if she is roaming (outside her country) she will pay $. It may be cheaper for her to get another pre-paid sms card (maybe 10-15 pounds or so?) and get a 'local' UK number, which receives calls for free.
posted by defcom1 at 5:28 PM on January 17, 2006

I have to agree with the above comments on the costs of roaming outside of the country - it is absolutely horrifically expensive. I was working across Europe this summer, and lived pretty much exclusively on my cell phone. $1,000 bills were routine!
posted by mtstover at 5:33 PM on January 17, 2006

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