Just yesterday we covered TravelSIM, which is a solution for reducing your call charges when making and receiving calls abroad. This little app, called ChatTime is similar, and lets you call more cheaply – although received calls will be at the same roaming rates as normal.
Imagine you live in the UK but you’re visiting Germany. If you want to call the office back in London it’ll work by intercepting the number routing it through their system and then it’ll tell your mobile to calling a local German access number instead. Once you do that, both ends will connect. I used to use something similar many years ago when I visited America, and used SkypeOut with a local American Pay As You Go phone to to have the call cost me pennies. Here it’s pretty similar, and assuming you’re in Germany you can call the UK directly for 1.2p per minute
ChatTime also has a callback service, meaning that you dial the number as normal but, upon hitting “Call” it’ll route the call and then call you to connect the call. This costs a lot more, and unless my eyes are deceiving me it’ll cost you almost 21p per minute for the same call.
Of course, to get the best value out of this it’s best to either…
a) If you’re going to be spending a fair time in one particular country, first perhaps get yourself a local SIM (like I did). This will give you a local number, and you can buy one on eBay or similar before you even head out. Next, use ChatTime without the callback function enabled, and then it’ll use a local access number, which you’ll only pay local call rates for on your “local mobile”, and then you can call back to the UK for really not-that-much.
b) If you’re going to take your own mobile, just use ChatTime without the callback and, again, your mobile will call a local number after ChatTime has routed the call. However, you may need to do some research as I was quite surprised by some network charges. For example, if you’re on O2 UK and travel to Germany, calling a local German landline will cost you 24p per minute…
However, if you call a landline back in the UK, it’s exactly the same… Gah! Not only that, but you pay 6p per minute to receive a call to O2, so if you use ChatTime with callback it’s going to bump the price up even more.
So, assuming you’re travelling from the UK and have an O2 UK mobile. Assuming you’re in Germany and use ChatTime without CallBack to call the UK..
– O2 Charge to call a local German number = 24p per minute.
– ChatTime charge to call the UK = 1.2p per minute
– Total = 25.2p per minute
…and with callback…
– O2 Charge to receive a local call = 6p per minute
– ChatTime charge to call you = 24p per minute
– Total = 30p per minute
..and just as normal, dialing using your mobile alone..
– O2 Charge to call the UK from Germany = 24p per minute
– Total = 24p per minute
Yes, I know. Nuts isn’t it? However, ChatTime does let you do a number of things, such as checking what the access number is before you dial it. By doing this, you can sometimes add numbers to “Friends and Family” packages.
Basically put, if you’re going abroad and really want to save some money, get your phone unlocked, buy a local SIM from a local shop when you land, add a bit of credit and then use ChatTime to route your calls through a local number.
If I was going to Germany, I’d do this… First, head over to eBay for a German SIM card. This Vodafone / Otelo one has €4 credit already loaded on, and it’s less than £5. That’ll do me.
Then, when I arrive in Germany, I can call a UK landline for 1.2p per minute or a little over 9p per minute to call a UK mobile. According to that eBay listing, outgoing calls to Germany cost 7p per minute, and I’ve already got €4 credit, which is £3.32. That should keep me going for quite a bit.
The ChatTime app is available for both iPhone and Android. You can check out the rates on their website or try one of their plans that will make calling even cheaper still by bundling minutes into a monthly plan. You can earn free credits by recommending friends and there’s a huge help system on the app plus a big list of call rates so you know how much everything will cost. No internet connection is needed for this after it’s been installed.
Oh, and if you’re interested in giving this a spin, go here for $1 of free calling credit and give it a try right now. The app will need your phone number (so ChatTime can call your phone) and your email address.