Gone are the days of expensive phone calls and we’ll tell you how you can call home from abroad for free.

If you have a good broadband connection, internet phone calls can slash the cost of calling abroad – you can even save if you’re out and about on 3G or 4G.

It’s so easy and simple and it’s even easier if you have a smart phone. We are going to tell you about some of the apps available that allow you to make calls for free from your smartphone/tablet and how to use your computer/laptop to make calls.

HOW TO MAKE FREE INTERNET CALLS

There are different ways to make free calls via the internet.

You and the person you’re going to call need to both be online and depending on the type of service you’re going to use, this will either be via computer, your smartphone or via a landline.

The service you use should be the same service which your friends and family are using. This is because using the same service will allow you to get free calls. Here are some options:

Smartphone-to-smartphone – If you have got a smartphone with internet access, either by Wi-Fi or 3G or 4G there are lots of free apps which will get you free calls as long as your person you are calling is using the same service.

Computer-to-computer (and tablets) – Same as the above.

Tablet/computer-to-phone (and vice versa) – It is possible to use a computer to call a landline or mobile for free so long as it’s a smartphone using the same service. If you are calling a landline or a mobile which isn’t a smartphone from your computer it will not be free (unless it’s a toll-free number, for example, 0800) – it may be cheaper using an override provider instead.

HOW DO INTERNET CALLS WORK?

Internet calls are made using what is known as “VoIP”, which is short for “Voice over Internet Protocol”.

APPS AND SERVICES TO MAKE FREE INTERNET CALLS

Skype

Skype is probably the most used and most known service. You can download the software on to your PC or Mac and even some smart televisions have it installed! Skype also has an app for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android, Windows phone, BlackBerry and the Amazon Fire Phone (we are told this come pre-installed).

If you both are using Skype and have added each other, you can call each other for free regardless of what device you are both using.

Note – if you use Skype to call a real telephone number, it will cost you – it won’t be free!

FaceTime

If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you can make free video calls to other Apple users. Those with iOS 7 or later on their device can also make audio-only calls – “FaceTime Audio”. Mac computers with OS X 10.6.6 or above are also compatible with FaceTime.

All new Apple devices come with FaceTime already installed, so you can start using it straightaway – just turn it on using your Apple ID (instructions here).

iPhone users with the 4S or newer can use the service over both wi-fi and with a data allowance (it only works over Wi-fi on the iPhone 4). Calling via 3G/4G will eat into your data limit, though the usage is minimal; a 10-minute FaceTime call will use about 30MB of mobile data.

WhatsApp

You can use it on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry – the apps are free to download and use for the first year, after which it costs 79p/year.

The benefit of WhatsApp over its competitors is that so many people use it, and – unlike Facetime – it works across multiple mobile operating systems.

While WhatsApp Web lets you use the messaging function through a browser, web calling can only be done from the smartphone app. You also can’t use WhatsApp for calling non-users, only for free calls (and messages) to others with the app.

Viber

Skype, it lets you make free voice and video calls to friends and family who are fellow users.

You can use Viber on PCs, Macs, all mobile phones and tablets. To use it on a tablet or computer, you have to install it on your phone first.

To get it on your phone, download the free app and you can call Viber users anywhere in the world for zilch – it’ll automatically recognise contacts in your phonebook that have it too, and list them within the app.

The rates are fairly cheap for calls from mobiles to non-users – they have a service called ‘Viber Out’.

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