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Best way to phone home from Italy, and from home to Italy?

Best way to phone home from Italy, and from home to Italy?

Old Jan 30th, 2006, 04:44 PM
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MaureenB
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Best way to phone home from Italy, and from home to Italy?

We'll want to keep in touch by phone with our daughter who is in Florence this semester. I'm wondering about the most economical way to call her. She will have a cell, rented in Italy, but MCI's International Calling Card charges 58 cents per minute to call a cell, while it's only 6 cents a minute to call a land-line. Why that is, I'll never know, but it's something I didn't realize when I bought the card. I can subscribe to an international calling plan for just $4/month with Qwest, then pay 27 cents a minute to call a cell phone in Italy. Anyone know of a better way to do it? I don't think we should impose on her host family to be calling their land-line phone regularly, although that would be the cheapest way to go. And Skype, the internet calling plan, doesn't work because she doesn't have easy internet access.
 
Old Jan 30th, 2006, 04:54 PM
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Maureen, I use Startec for international calls, if you don't use them, there is no monthly fee.

When you use them, if you don't meet the limit - if your calls add up to less then $5 per month, then the monthly fee is $2.50.

If your calls are over $5 then there is no monthly fee.

Ask them how much the calls to Italy are as I don't know, but I'm sure much less then MCI!!

The phone is 1-800-827-3374. I use them for ages!
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 04:55 PM
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I meant to say Startec is my long-distance carrier.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 06:23 PM
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If possible, have her call you. It is a lot cheaper calling from Europe than for us to call them.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 06:40 PM
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<< It is a lot cheaper calling from Europe than for us to call them. >>

Don't you mean the exact opposite? There are tons of 1010-carriers that offer US-to-Europe rates of only 10 to 15 cents. I have never seen similar competitive rates for Europe to US calls.

I have never found a plan that works as well as this: buy a (pre-paid) cell phone in Europe (with the plan to "sell it forward" when you return home), when you want to talk "back home"... call them (under 1 minute), and have them call you back (it might cost them less to call you at a land phone, like your hotel, for example); it won't use any of your cell phone minutes to gt an incoming call, for most pre-paid cell phones.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 06:46 PM
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> Europe to US calls.
Germany to US is <2ct/min (24/7)
Most of the time less expensive than a local call.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 07:44 PM
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She can buy a calling card in Florence at lots of different places (tabachi, internet cafes, booths specializing in these cards). She just tells them she wants the one with the best rate to the US and they will sell her the right one. They can be something like 8 euro for 6 hours of calling. Internet Train might have them. It's always most expensive to call cell phones in Europe. The calls to land lines are always significantly cheaper. That's just the way it is. You could also check into the cost of text messaging to her cell phone instead and getting her to call you back.
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 06:50 AM
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MaureenB
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Thank you all for your ideas. I will check them out. She has a 'free' cell phone from PicCell in Florence, and it's cheaper than my MCI rates to call internationally, but not as cheap as my Qwest rates. It's funny how there is so little consistency in rates. When I figure it out, I'll post my solution. Anyone else?
 
Old Jan 31st, 2006, 07:52 AM
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Maureen, my daughter is studying in Rome this semester and she also has PicCell. I have Verizon as my long distance carrier and for $4/month extra, I'm paying .10 cents/minute.
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 07:58 AM
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I bought one calling card in Florence that had 42 minutes for 5 Euros, which was not bad (this was at the train station). But then I bought another one which had hundreds of minutes for 5 Euros (this was at a shop that sold film and what not, but I don't remember any other details). I was phoning Canada with these. I was able to use the second one in Rome also.

I think it would not be too ridiculous if you set up an agreement with the host family that you would phone her two evenings a week for 15 minutes, or something like that.
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Old Jan 31st, 2006, 07:15 PM
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MaureenB
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Unfortunately, my daughter's orientation session made it clear that students cannot use their family's home phone or the school's villa phone for receiving calls. I'm sure every semester this question comes up.
Anyway, I have Googled "cheap international calling cards" and have found several in the 14 cent/minute price range, shich sure beats 58 cents/minute. So I'll buy one and see how the quality is. They seem to be fly-by-night operations, but it's only a gamble of $20 or so, so I'll give it a shot. If it's a bust, I'll report back!
 
Old Jan 31st, 2006, 08:57 PM
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The best way to do it is to buy an international calling card from tabachi shops that are at every corner of the street. It's 5 euros for 200 min. Don't get the cell...ends up being too expensive! Also, you'll be too busy looking at sites! I always phoned my family at the end of the day with my card at hotel...you can use the card anywhere...even in restaurants!
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Old Feb 1st, 2006, 06:40 PM
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Go to cells4rent.com and you will see the rates and how cheap it is to rent a cell phone. All incoming US calls are free and the rental for the phone is 15e for the month. Good Luck
 
Old Feb 1st, 2006, 07:45 PM
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Just one more thought Maureen. My friends in Italy buy a phone card at the tabachi (tobacco) store and call me here in the US from Italy. That is cheapest way for them to call.

I have AT&T. I have the international plan that cost me $3.95 a month. It cost me 9cents a minute to call Italy, if to a land phone. To a cell phone in Italy I believe it cost me 14cents a minute.

Just a side note. Years ago we often had Italian exchange students staying with us and they too were told they could not receive phone calls at our home phone. I told them they certainly could. So they advised their family of that. If the family your daughter is staying with does not have a problem with your calling their home phone..well than you can. Best wishes to your daughter that she has a beautiful and interesting semester in Florence!!
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Old Feb 2nd, 2006, 07:07 AM
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MaureenB
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Thank you again, everyone! I purchased a small denomination international calling card via the 'net yesterday and used it easily and with good sound clarity on the call. It did not deliver the 7.4 cents/minute rate it promised, since there are so many hidden fees, though. And calling their customer service number is a joke, since they speak with such a heavy accent that we cannot understand each other, and three times they promised to put minutes back on the card but didn't. A scam, I think. Good thing I only invested $5. I'll try another card next time. Live and learn.
I do wish I could call a land-line in Italy, but I know my daughter does not wish to impose on her family, and they speak no English, so communicating about anything is a challenge right now. We'll see how it develops over the semester. Maybe I could reach her at a payphone that's convenient for her.
Really, we don't need to talk more than once a week, so not a big deal. We'll go 'cold turkey' if we have to!
 
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