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International phone calls can be expensive. Here's how to stay in touch while you are abroad, but not build up an expensive phone bill. Talk to students who have been to the countries you are going and see if they have suggestions on the best options. 

Phone cards

Phone cards are available in your host country or you may be able to find cost-effective options online before you leave. Phone cards enable you to make calls, usually for a set fee-per-minute based on the country you are calling.

There are often fees for calling from public phones and for time elapsed after you activate the card. These fees can add up quickly and cut into the minutes you thought you'd have available for calling home.

It's important to investigate your options and determine what you're going to be charged for, and how your calling needs relate to your available options. If you're interested in exploring the costs and benefits of phone cards further, is one provider that offers helpful information and some tips in this area.

Cell phones

Cell phones are an effective way of communicating overseas, but beware the international roaming rates. Renting an international cell phone with a pre-paid value of calls can keep you in touch on short-term ventures abroad or longer-term studies depending on the options you purchase. They also will help you avoid international roaming charges. 

Some providers allow you to swap SIM cards. You may be able to change your SIM card for an international version and make calls from your existing phone. While this may still result in slightly high per-minute fees for international calls, it will allow you to have a phone that can be used for local calls in your host country.

There are companies where you can purchase a short-term contract for cell-phone usage. These plans often have free incoming calls. You pay for outgoing calls and text messages.


The cheapest and easiest way to communicate is through the various online options. While needing to find an Internet café or other form of access may be more difficult on short-term trips, students staying abroad long-term typically find it vital to their continued close contact with those back home.

Instant messengers, e-mail, blogs, and all your other usual online social networking tools are great options for overseas communications.

Students are encouraged to investigate starting a blog if they do not already have one. Blogging avoids the need to send out mass e-mails to relate adventures to a large group of people. It also allows them to check in with the students, leave messages, and contribute to the experience.

If you would like to write an official blog for UTSA, please speak with your Education Abroad Services adviser before you leave. 


If you and the people you wish to communicate with sign up for Skype or FaceTime, or a similar service, you can do video or voice phone calls through the Internet.