I struggled with this at first, buying a £1 SIM card from Vodafone and then topping that up with £15 worth of pay-as-you-go credit. That lasted exactly six minutes.
Didn’t really think about that one through and a quick call back home to Australia from Scotland chewed the entire £15 credit. Noice.
By the way, I have my iPhone with me on International Roaming so I can take any urgent calls from back home, but at $7 AUD a call it’s best not to use that one to make any calls if possible. Having said that, the phone is locked to Telstra, the Australian network of choice (yes yes I work for them), and so putting a pre-paid SIM into that is not really an option.
Next we tried Calling Cards. What a shamble. Dial an 0800 number, go through a series of prompts, become entirely confused by the process, try dialling a ‘+’ sign and entering an Australian number to get nowhere. Repeat steps one through five and still not connecting, decide to try from friends land line to no avail before eventually just giving up.
I figure that this option is probably the best for someone living here, or young people with budget issues who understands the prefixes etc but it just proved to hard for me.
Back down to the corner shop and get some good advice from the owner who reckons that I should just buy a pay-as-you-go from Tesco or Asda and make sure it is unlocked and then throw a Lebarra mobile sim in it and away you go.
This seemed like the answer so headed down to the Glasgow Fort where there is a plethora of Telco shops, Telco resellers and mobile phone warehouses to chose from. I had to pick up a new Blackberry Curve 3G for a special little girl who just turned 11 years old anyway, and it’s always a good excuse to stop by Topman, Zara and Bank to check out the latest threads man.
I still find it hard to believe, but you can buy a pay-as-you-go (we call that PrePaid in Australia) Nokia phone for £7.95 and walk out the shop. Seriously. I bought a Nokia C1800 just like this one and then added a £10 top up from Talk Mobile who offered the cheapest rates, a quick phone call to activate and voila! Instant mobile phone with UK number!
I was so impressed with the process, very fast, very streamlined and very very cheap.
I am getting International Calls to Australia from anywhere in the UK for 10p a minute to landlines, and 20p a minute to Australian mobiles which is fantastic value. I couldn’t quite believe it so I dialled the credit check and yep sure enough it is true.
And they aren’t locked to any network so I should be able to take this handset to Florida later when we go for another holiday, and take it home to Australia as a spare.
So, my top tips for making calls to Australia, and other foreign countries for very similar rates, is quite simple.
Don’t mess around, just go buy a pay-as-you-go handset and put a Talk Mobile SIM card in it for the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to connect with family back home. With free International Minutes after your first top-up it is a deal that is pretty hard to beat for travellers.