Toybox: Cheap mobile international calls a real boon

Five cents per minute calls to international landlines - from your mobile

If you’re a frequent overseas caller like me, you’ll know all about Skype and Skype Out calls. Usually, you have to make appointments with other people to sit in front of their computers, logged in and ready to go, at a time that suits both parties. It works, but sometimes it’s a bit of a mission.

As a result, I often end up talking to friends and family overseas on a monthly or even bi-monthly basis, so conversations tend to be hour-long ones. But you do tend to miss out on the everyday five-minute catch-ups that make you feel so much more connected to the lives of loved ones on the other side of the world.

So when I heard about the V8 international phone card, which allows you to call international landlines for as little as five cents per minute from your Vodafone mobile, I was really keen to try it out.

I was pleasantly surprised when the local dairy up the road actually had the cards. Another great thing about the card is you choose how much credit you want to put on it. I put $10 on it and called my Mum on my way home from work a few hours later.

The V8 card works just like a traditional landline phone card — you have to call a number (in this case, 449), then enter a code and then call the overseas number. However, with the V8 card you can punch in the ten-digit code and then save it, so you don’t have to go through the tedious process of getting the card out and entering the number every time you call — all you have to do is call 449 from your mobile and then enter the number you’re calling.

The clear benefits of the card include great calling quality — calling landlines in Sweden is like calling within New Zealand — and the low rates. It cost five cents per minute to call 30 countries, including China, the US and most European countries.

Calling mobile phones is a bit more expensive but still reasonable; it costs 49 cents to call Sweden, the UK and a number of other countries.

Another bonus is that there is no charge for calling 449 from a Vodafone mobile, which means you are not using up your precious call minutes. Callers pay V8 rates only from when the international call connects. There is a connection fee of 19 cents for each call.

On the downside, the V8 card can’t escape the little flaws that mar most phone cards, such as sudden disconnections and having to listen to the computerised voice that reads out the menu options, as well as announcing how many minutes you’ve got left, and how much the call will cost, every single time you want to make a call.

It would be desirable to be able to choose a number from the mobile phone book too, instead of having to enter the full number for each call.

To sum up, I’m really enjoying the freedom of being able to call friends and family when I’m out and about — and it’s not costing me a fortune either.

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