T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon are now offering international calling plans, but the cost right now is still pretty expensive.

A less expensive option is to purchase a multi-frequency world phone that works on the GSM (Global System Mobile) network. You can purchase a chip for a specific country and the cost is only 25 to 30 cents a minute. You can receive calls for free as well. For information, check out www.Telestial.com. They sell international phones, SIM chips and offer voice mail plans as well.

Here’s another idea: If you’re going to be living in London for awhile, you can purchase a cheap phone at Richard Branson’s virginmobile.com site. Rates for cell phones are as cheap as 7 pence or about 14 cents per minute.

Finally, consider VOIP phones. You can plug into your computer and use the Internet to place calls internationally.

If you’re not married to the idea of having a cell phone, consider getting a prepaid phone card at Costco and using that. You’ll pay as little as 4 cents a minute for international calling. And, you can reload the card easily via the Internet.

Published: Dec 22, 2004