How to Make Cheap Phone Calls Overseas with WiFi and Skype

(Last Updated On: February 1, 2021)

I had just landed in the Calgary (Alberta) airport with my dad when in a panic he realized he forgot to make an important phone call before he left the US. He wanted to take out his phone and pick up a local signal to make the call.


I reminded him that this is not the US, and international roaming charges will apply if you pick up the cell service in Canada. This could cost a couple of dollars per minute. In an emergency, I can see this making sense, but luckily I had a better, cheaper option for him.

Related:A Complete Guide to Using Your iPhone Abroad, for Dummies

Roaming Charges in Canada
Roaming Charges Verizon

I had a bit of money on my Skype account, which I also have integrated on the Skype app on my phone. My balance of $1.07 would be plenty for him to make a quick call, so we pulled out my phone, connected to the free airport WiFi, opened up my Skype app, and dialed.

Two minutes later he had completed his call, I had spent 20 cents on Skype, and nobody got charged for using any international data. We did all of this with the phone on Airplane Mode. Note: You can still do this even if you have suspended your account with your carrier because you are only using Skype and WiFi.

Related: Using Your iPhone Abroad with WiFi and Airplane Mode

If you are heading abroad and will need to make phone calls, even if it’s just to call yourself to check your voicemail, get a Skype account and put some money on it. Ten dollars will last you a long time if you don’t use it much, and it solves the issue of not being able to make calls overseas.

As long as you have WiFi, you can make calls to any phone number with the Skype app, dialing just as you would normally. This is for making outgoing calls only, not receiving incoming calls.

Without service on your phone, you won’t be able to receive incoming calls. You can chat for free with anyone who also has a Skype account if you are online at the same time, and I recommend the Voxer app for keeping in touch overseas when you are not online at the same time.

Related: How to Unlock Your iPhone and Use an International SIM Card

How to Check Your Voicemail Overseas

If you do not yet have a password for your voicemail account, get one. You can probably do this online in your account, but it’s easiest to do it at home before you go, so you don’t have to worry about finding WiFi to make it happen.

Once you have a password, you can use Skype to call yourself, and then punch in the code and you should be able to check your voicemail just like that.

Note: You cannot do this if you have suspended your account.