How can I call Ecuador on the cheap from a cellphone?
August 20, 2006 5:45 PM   Subscribe

I need to call Ecuador.

Hola, Ask MeFi! My girlfriend is in Ecuador until December. We e-mail back and forth every few days, but I'd also like to be able to call her at some point. Here are the complications:

A- I only have a cell phone. So land line only options are a NO GO! UNLESS!
-A i: I have a landline at work
-Aii: Our boss is generous with letting us abuse the postage machine and whatnot, but I think long-distance calls to South America are probably not a good issue to push on

So! Phone cards? 800 numbers? I've never called outside the continuous 48 before, so I'm completely dumb on the subject. Help!
posted by GilloD to Technology (18 answers total)
I wonder if you might be able to give her a VOIP (e.g., Vonage) account with a local phone number, and then call it from your mobile phone essentially for free.

Of course, that would require her to have a decent Internet connection. But it's an idea, nonetheless.
posted by scoria at 5:54 PM on August 20, 2006

If you both have high-speed internet connections, then Skype is your answer. I've used it before and it's awesome.
posted by medpt at 5:57 PM on August 20, 2006

Her internet access is pretty spotty, only briefly every few days.
posted by GilloD at 6:08 PM on August 20, 2006

I have made long distance calls from pay phones but never international. just bring a bunch of quarters.
posted by Iron Rat at 6:14 PM on August 20, 2006

You can get a phone card for Ecuador and then use that with your work phone, cause it wouldn't cost your boss anything. I imagine you could also use it with your cell phone, since you would be calling an 800 number, which would then connect you to Ecuador, but a landline can be less of a hassle. If you're near one, a neighborhood with a lot of Hispanic immigrants would be helpful in finding a phone card, though I'm sure these cards are available elsewhere. There seem to be plenty available online. No matter what, I'd be careful to check out any fees aside from the rate per minute.
posted by Airhen at 6:22 PM on August 20, 2006

Yup, what Airhen said. I've had no bad experiences using cards from nobelcom (though I always have the vague feeling that a bad experience is just around the corner).
posted by nixxon at 6:33 PM on August 20, 2006

I do live in a Hispanic neighborhood. I'll check it out. Thanks much!
posted by GilloD at 6:33 PM on August 20, 2006

I'm not affiliated with the following company, so this is just a personal reccomendation. I use TEL3Advantage for making personal long distance calls from work.

It works like a prepaid phone card which you top up online (I see Ecuador is 15 cents/minute) using a credit card. You enter the numbers you dial from (e.g. cel phone, work phone, etc.) and it recognizes your account without requiring you to enter a PIN number whenever you call their access number. There are also speed dial numbers you can pre-program into your account.
posted by Blue Buddha at 6:36 PM on August 20, 2006

Yep, phone cards are your only man . . . . a lot of them are targeted toward different countries, so go into your local immigrant-frequented corner shop and specify you want to call Ecuador. And Airhen's right about the fees - some of them have a connection charge per call, some start accruing fees after a certain amount of time etc.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:38 PM on August 20, 2006

Her internet access is pretty spotty, only briefly every few days.

Well, if you have decent internet, you call her landline using your computer with SkypeOut, for $0.177. That's three times as much as a phone card would cost, but it's really convenient if you have broadband.
posted by rajbot at 7:17 PM on August 20, 2006

That's three times as much as a phone card would cost

Actually, I don't think it is. I think it's a lot less! See the aforementioned 15 cents per minute quote. Skype is great. Every international person I know uses it. My husband uses it to call home (the netherlands) all the time, and the money you put in lasts forever. I think your best bet is Skype if you have high speed internet. You can use your PC to call her LAND LINE (as stated. just want to reiterate) so she doesn't need to have any special equipment. It's the awesomeness.
posted by theantikitty at 7:39 PM on August 20, 2006

This site will give you a rundown on various phone cards. I've bought cards from them to call Mexico, South America and Europe several times.
posted by Wet Spot at 7:39 PM on August 20, 2006

Thank you guys so much. I'm dying to just hear her again.

Ask MeFi: Makin' the long distance relationship work better since 2006.
posted by GilloD at 7:47 PM on August 20, 2006

Just go to a corner store and look at those phone card posters on the wall outside.
Buy the one with the cheapest rate to Ecuador.
The cards all seem to work the same pretty much. Though some cards can be crap for voice quality, you might have to try diffrent ones.

Call the, usually local, number on the card. You can use your cell phone, it doesnt matter.
then it gets you to enter the pin thats on the card.
then the phone number.

I've gotten cheaper rates (to cambodia from canada) from some of the local phone cards, compared to the other options here. Like 11 cents to 20 cents a minute compaired to skypes 33 cents.
posted by Iax at 9:56 PM on August 20, 2006

For phone calls from work you can use which will call you at work and connect you to your gf in Ecuador. The rate is $0.19 but there's no equipment or setup required.
posted by rdr at 10:22 PM on August 20, 2006

As linked above, Skype's rate to a landline in Ecuador is about 17 cents/minute. It's not 33 cents/min, and not 'a lot less' than 15 cents/minute...
posted by rajbot at 10:29 PM on August 20, 2006

We all use OneSuite at work for calling China. The dial-through number works from cell phones, which was the important part for me as we don't have a land line and I wanted my husband to be able to call me there whenever he wanted. Their rates for Ecuador are $0.1850 ($0.2150 to call a mobile)/min and the quality is crystal clear, at least it always has been for calling China. Check other calling cards very carefully for access fees; OneSuite doesn't have any. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like they have an access number in Ecuador, which would allow her to call you on the same account.

As a recipient of Skype calls, I will tell you that if you're going to go that route make sure that everyone using a computer has a decent headset microphone or handset, otherwise the call can be pretty painful.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:42 AM on August 21, 2006

"Aii: Our boss is generous with letting us abuse the postage machine and whatnot, but I think long-distance calls to South America are probably not a good issue to push on"

posted by oxford blue at 5:54 PM on August 21, 2006

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