'Pay as you go' mobile phone in London
June 20, 2006 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Please advise us on mobile phone calling plans in London. We'll be on sabbatical in London for 6.5 more months. We're in university housing and can only call on campus without using a calling card. We've gotten tired of dialing 30+ digits, so we'd use the mobile as our main phone, at least for outgoing calls. We'll be making a couple of calls a day in London, and two or three 10-20 minute calls to the US and France each week. I assume we want a 'pay as you go' plan, since we're only going to be here less than a year. We don't need a fancy phone. We'd probably prefer 2 cheap phones. Also, will our phones work in western Europe? Thanks for your advice.
posted by lukemeister to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Calling abroad on pay as you go will cost you a fortune.

What I used to do was use a "calling card" type service from the mobile, there was even a specific service I preferred, but that was years ago and I don't remember the name. But you could sign up, credit your account, then preprogram the full 30+ or whatever digits into your mobile's phonebook, thus making the whole process much easier.

For your US phones to work in Europe I believe they will need to be triband. Check the manual.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 8:18 AM on June 20, 2006

Yeah, if you do this, you will pay a truly ludicrous amount per call. If you've got a computer, you might be better with an Internet phone service like Skype. Otherwise, I think you're just going to have to put up with all the digits. There's really no way to do international calling from a mobile on the cheap, or even on the sanely-priced.
posted by reklaw at 8:57 AM on June 20, 2006

I dial internationally via my mobile all the time. I have an account (paid via credit card) with these guys -- 1899.com -- with my mobile no. registered so I ring up their London number (starts 020 8) and they charge me via their rates and the call to London is part of my inclusive minutes package on my mobile. They charge 2p/min to the US with a 3p per call connection charge.

I'm on a monthly contract but if a pay-as-you-go package is OK for dialling a London number without too much expense then you could be OK.

Have a look here for cheaper rates to your favoured countries.
posted by i_cola at 9:32 AM on June 20, 2006

There's really no way to do international calling from a mobile on the cheap, or even on the sanely-priced.

I was in London for 6 months, and I used a prepaid Mobile World SIM card. Calls to the US and western Europe were 7p/minute, and calls in the UK were something like 14p/minute.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:32 AM on June 20, 2006

Caaling abroad on pay as you go will NOT cost you a fortune. I have a pay as you go mobile on Orange and love it. It costs me 1p/min to call the US and Canada by using Telediscount. No sign up, no credit cards, you just call the access number and then dial the long distance number at the tone. So it costs me 5p/min on Orange to call a UK landline (the Telediscount number) and then 1p/min for the long distance call = 6p/min at any time of day. (Calls to France on Telediscount are 1p/min for landline and 15p/min to a mobile.)

Also, all incoming calls, regardless of where they come from, are free (unlike a lot of shitty North American cell phones). I've had my pay as you go on Orange for over 5 years and my super cheap, no bells or whistles phone works anywhere in Europe.
posted by meerkatty at 10:41 AM on June 20, 2006

If you are on O2, you should be able to use Telediscount to make calls internationally as cheaply as calling a UK landline.

As far as I know meerkatty is incorrect about being able to call 0844 numbers for 5p/min on Orange (and I am an Orange customer). For new PAYG plans the rate to call landlines is at least 15p/min and I believe that 0844 numbers incur a surcharge. She is definitely incorrect about her rate being calculated as 5p/min + the number shown on the Telediscount web site, which is a common misconception. That amount is what BT charges to dial the Telediscount number and other providers charge what they feel like. Some, like O2, will charge a standard landline rate. Others will charge a premium.
posted by grouse at 12:42 PM on June 20, 2006

Calling abroad on pay as you go will NOT cost you a fortune. I have a pay as you go mobile on Orange and love it. It costs me 1p/min to call the US and Canada by using Telediscount.

So you're using a low cost calling service, which is what I suggested. You're not calling abroad on your PAYG, you're calling abroad on Telediscount.

And as grouse said, UK providers will charge varying rates to call such numbers. I stopped using my service (which had an 0800 number) when one2one (now T-Mobile) started charging premium rates.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2006

Yes, true that you should check carefully into discount rates and your own service provider rates, but grouse I am correct about the 6p/min on Orange. This is after the first 3 minutes at 25p/min. I take note of my balance before the call and then afterwards. It works out to exactly 26p/min for the first 3 mins and 6p/min afterwards. But maybe new plans don't work this way.
posted by meerkatty at 1:14 PM on June 20, 2006

Skype will be cheapest for international calls. I had 02 pay as you go service and turned on the "bolt on" for international calls which made them 10p a minute -- which isn't awful for emergency calls that I couldn't make via Skype.
posted by k8t at 1:34 PM on June 20, 2006

I am correct about the 6p/min on Orange

Even if that is true for your older plan (which isn't available today so it's not really relevant to this question), the fact that it is 6p/min is just a coincidence. Other operators will set their rates for different classes of numbers independently, and you cannot rely on it being a base rate plus whatever happens to be on the BT Price List (1p/min in this case).
posted by grouse at 1:55 PM on June 20, 2006

Some coincidence then! Thanks for the heads-up.
posted by meerkatty at 2:27 PM on June 20, 2006

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