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How To Place an International Phone Call

Learn how to place international phone calls and save money on the rates.


Making an international call

In order to make a long distance phone call, there are several bits of information you need in order to begin. You must first know the international call prefix. This code allows you to dial outside of the country that you are calling from and is unique for each country. Once you pick up your phone and hear a dial tone, you dial this code. This step and each following step are illustrated toward the middle of the page.

The next digits that you dial are the country code of the country that you are trying to call. In some countries, the country code varies depending on whether you are calling a mobile phone or a fixed phone. Some countries have different country codes based on geography. The country code can be anywhere from 1 to 3 digits.

After dialing the country code, you must dial the area or city code. This too can be anywhere from 1 to 3 digits and narrows down your call to a smaller geographic region within the country you are calling.

Finally, you dial the local number and you are then finished dialing. Here is a summary of all the steps:

Step 1: Dial International Call Prefix

Step 2: Dial Country Code

Step 3: Dial City Code (area code)

Step 4: Dial Local Number

So let's say you are trying to call a local number in Sao Paulo, Brazil from Miami, Florida, USA. In this example we will say the local number is "234-5678". We know that 011 is the international call prefix when dialing from inside the USA. The country code for Brazil is 55. The city code (or area code) for Sao Paulo is 11. This is all the information we need. To make the call, we would dial

011 55 11 2345678

As you can see we dial the international call prefix 011, followed by the country code 55, then the area code 11, and then the local number 2345678. It's that simple.


Saving money on international calls

Now that you know how to place an international call, it's important to know how to save money on the call. Calling internationally can be very expensive if you do not use the right carrier. There are, however, methods to find the best and cheapest carrier for each international call you make. One such method is known as international callback.

Some carriers charge higher rates than others to some countries and lower rates to other countries. Having one carrier will not ensure that you always get the lowest international calling rate. When using international callback, the provider chooses the cheapest carrier for each call you make.

How this works is you dial a unique access number given to you by your provider and hang up. You are not charged for this call. The provider then calls you back and when you answer, they prompt you for your PIN number and the international number you are trying to call. Based on where you are calling, the provider selects the cheapest carrier for that call and that is what you are charged. Using the international callback method to place international calls can save you up to 80% on the call.


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