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Confused on mobile phone calling between US and England /Wales

I have researched this but am still confused and need help on what numbers to use to make the following types of calls: Scenario- I am in England or Wales with my cell phone. The phone is unlocked and enabled for international calling. My dog sitter is in the US with her cell phone. I want to call her using my cell phone to her cell phone. 1. How do I dial my cell? 2. She wants to call me. How does she dial? Does she need to have international calling enabled on her phone to do that? 3. How do the calling steps change if I call her through wifi calling? 4. What if she has to call me through wifi calling? 5. How does she call my cell from a landline if she has to, like maybe because she can't call England/Wales with her cell plan? Thanks! Ann.

Posted by
6 posts

I only use “WhatsApp” when traveling. It’s seems to be very easy, I would make sure and have everyone download the app and test it before leaving. You can text, FaceTime, and make calls when you are on wi-fi for free.

Posted by
1173 posts

Who is your carrier? Have you contacted them and asked them these quesitons and have you asked about your contract and how much it will cost to make calls to the USA? Every carrier is different so it really would be best to start with your carrier and asking them how to handle this when your away.

I use Skype and call my family who only have a landline and it works out very well. I put money on my skype account and for about $20.00 it lasts a long time to make calls every day.

Posted by
902 posts

What is your carrier?
First, you need to understand your cell carrier's international plan(s).
I use Verizon's $10/day plan. The first step is to enable the plan online or by calling customer service. You cannot enable your phone once you are out of the country. This plan allows me to use my cell phone cellular data and texting just like I am at home. Anyone can call or text me just like I am in the next room. To call home to the US, you dial a +1 and then the number including area code. To get the +1, hold down the 0 button until it comes up. Once you send a call or text or use data or receive a call or text, you are charged $10. The next 24 hours you can send/receive/use data using the minutes of your home plan. Then, the next time you use your phone you are charged $10 and the cycle starts over. A lot of folks feel this is too expensive, but it works well for me.

Verizon has other plans and the other carriers have plans. If you want to be able to call someone without restrictions (not being near wifi) or if you want to be always available for you to call them, it will cost you. Otherwise, have your sitter email you and you can check your emails when you have wifi available.

Posted by
115 posts

I talked at length today with Consumer Cellular, through which I have service with T-mobile. I doubt they would know how exactly to dial, per my first post; I didn't ask, as I knew Rick Steves had lots of info on this, which I read after my T-Mobile conversation, but it didn't tell me (or I couldn't understand) what exact digits I needed in the senarios I described. So, that's why I posted the question here. Ann.

Posted by
115 posts

A little more--my questions don't relate to plans and costs. That's all clear to me. I need to know how to dial in those scenarios in my first post. What digits does one hit? Thanks! Ann

Posted by
115 posts

Took vandrabruds' advice and just got super help from Consumer Cellular so I am all set! Ann.

Posted by
4700 posts

Consumer Cellular offers basic international calling rates while traveling - for calls, 30 cents/minute and 10 cents per text message. If it's a smart phone, it would be extremely expensive to use: 25 cents per MB of data. I typically use 100MB per day of data while traveling for example, so it would cost me $25/day to use my phone, if I had Consumer Cellular. It would not be too expensive if you are sticking strictly to calls and texts.

https://www.consumercellular.com/Help/phones-and-services/8

Presumably, you could avoid any charges if you use the phone only on WiFi and stick to "WiFi Calling." But of course, you'd only be reachable while on WiFi (I guess you could check voicemail once in a while). And you need to learn how to use the "WiFi Calling" feature - it's something you must enable in your phone settings. It's not as simple as "I'm on WiFi, so I'm making a WiFi call."

If you have a smart phone, honestly, the best way to go is to buy a UK SIM card. It will let you use your phone for a fraction of the cost of Consumer Cellular's international roaming plan, at least for things that use mobile data.

The only downside of a UK SIM is: you won't have access to your US phone number for calls or texting while you have a UK SIM card in the phone - you will have a UK phone number. Your sitter could call your UK number, but that would be (likely) an expensive international call for her.

If you can both setup WhatsApp (for example), as mentioned above, if you both have a smart phone, then you could reach each other for no extra cost with WhatsApp. That's something you could test out before you leave - WhatsApp works in the US too.

If you want to stick to conventional dialing, and you get a UK SIM card, I can think of two practical options that don't require your sitter to do anything but dial a US phone number to reach you.

First, you can install Google Voice on your smart phone. The Google Voice app lets you make free voice calls to US phones, even to landlines. Plus you can send and receive texts for free with your new Google Voice phone number. But you need to be on WiFi or have a SIM card with mobile data. Incoming calls, unfortunately, may not work with Google Voice in Europe (they didn't for me in May), but your sitter could text you on your new Google Voice phone number (free) or leave you a Google voicemail, and you could call her back with Google Voice. Again, she would only have to dial a US Phone number (your new Google number) to leave you a voicemail.

Another option would be to setup Skype on your phone. Then buy a US phone number through Skype for about $7/month. Then your sitter could dial your new Skype phone number (a new US number), Skype would ring on your phone, and you would answer it. She wouldn't need to use Skype - just call you from her landline or cell phone. For you to call her back, you'd need to pay a little more with Skype...but for about $10/month, you'd have a US number in Skype so you can call and receive calls. This would be the easiest thing for your sitter, other than the fact that she would need use your new Skype number. You can figure out Skype before you leave and test it out with her so you know what to expect.

When you dial a US number from Europe, remember to add a +1 to the front of it. (Hold down the 0 button on the dial pad to get a plus.) So to dial 206-555-1212 from the UK, dial it as +1-206-555-1212.

A huge advantage of a UK SIM card would be the ability to use the phone for everything - maps, directions, etc. I find using my smart phone with Google Maps while traveling an enormous time saver and benefit.

Posted by
306 posts

Not intended as any sort of criticism, but I am quite staggered at the charges levied for international calls.
Prices such as $0.25 a mb for data or $10 a day to allow you to use your normal plan.
As others have said, look for ways to use Whatsapp, Skype or Google Hangouts. The issue is obviously wifi access or data.

A cheap dual sim phone on Amazon can be bought for less than $100 - keep your own sim for emergencies, and a local phone sim just for data to make sure you are always online.
Alternatively, most UK supermarkets will have cheap android smart phones for around £50 to which you can buy whatever sim is currently offering the best deals (e.g 5gb of data for £10)

Posted by
115 posts

Thanks for these last two posts. Couple of things - I have a landline at home that dog sitter and I can use but only if she is at my house of course. We could also Facetime or use wifi calling. I'd like to free up a way for us to talk when she's not at my house. That's what I am working on with her now as her cell plan doesn't cover international calling. In my day to day life, my iphone lives in my purse, turned off. Given my lifestyle, I use it very rarely. In the US, I never use it to connect to websites. And for this upcoming trip I will be staying in two places only, with two sort-of "canned" agendas so I don't expect to be surfing the web. I just want to be able to talk/text related to my dogs' care, should a problem arise. Have told the sitter to investigate what is involved in upgrading her service temporarily and I'd pay for it. There are so many other options, as you suggest, which I appreciate, but unless there is dog trouble I will very rarely use my phone, so I am not worried about the costs. Thanks! Ann

Posted by
5366 posts

I think first, rather than discussing plans and costs and other details, you use the phrase:

I am in England or Wales with my cell phone. The phone is unlocked and enabled for international calling

Does this mean you have purchased a UK SIM card? or are you using your phone and US calling plan in Europe?

If you are using your plan, then unlocking a phone is not needed, though your plan does need to allow international use and calling.

Your Cell phone carrier should tell you that your dogsitter does not need to dial anything different or have an international plan to call you, nor should you or they incur any cost if they call you, other than normal charges for a US domestic call.

You calling on your plan to the US likely will incur charges, you will need to dial basically 00 then 1 then Area code then number. The sitter will not need an international plan to answer your call.

Second, regarding use of Apps, is your concern being able to be reached or make a call unscheduled? Or are ( or can) you planning calls at certain times?

Posted by
90 posts

You are asking What you or your dog sitter should dial ?

If in the uk using your cell and calling the usa, key using the sequence below.
prefix number with international access digit plus symbol +
then country code 1 then US area code xxx
then local subscriber number xxx xxxx

From the US on a landline your dog sitter dials >international access 011 > country code 44 >then uk area code without the zero prefix > then rest of subscribers number>

Note the plus symbol + is the recognised abbreviation for international access which can vary in some countries, a cell phone works it out automatically.

If using an Apple iPhone there is an option in the phone menu called 'dial assist' when switched on the phone automatically determines the international and local prefix.

Area code length in the uk can vary, so can the local number length, just dial all the sequence without the area code 0 prefix.

Ive used free Skype, which is a different process to cell or landline.
As mentioned WhatsApp is very easy and popular.

Posted by
311 posts

"You calling on your plan to the US likely will incur charges, you will need to dial basically 00 then 1 then Area code then number. The sitter will not need an international plan to answer your call."

Not usually - i used my T Mobile phone and my well used speed dial to call my husband on his T Mobile phone while I was in London and he was in the US. On my same phone, I called normal international ##s to contact folks in London.

Posted by
329 posts

My Verizon "International Services While Traveling Outside the U.S." dialing instructions explains that calling from your contact list might be assisted. That's what I experienced using it in various European locations.

From Verizon :

"Your device may have assisted dialing functionality that allows you to make calls directly from your contact list.
If you receive error messages when making calls, try turning this option off and dialing manually."

Posted by
5366 posts

From the US on a landline your dog sitter dials >international access 011 > country code 44 >then uk area code without the zero prefix > then rest of subscribers number

This goes back to my question for the OP. If she is using a UK SIM then this is correct, If she is using her phone plan and a US number then the sitter need only dial her US number and would not be making an "International" call.

Posted by
256 posts

It doesn't make sense to upgrade your dogsitters cellphone plan , when you both can easily download Whatsapp, or Skype, or Google Hangouts and talk over WiFi, or have her download Skype or Hangouts and charge some money into it so she can call to your phone in case you're not on wifi at that moment and it's an emergency.

Posted by
86 posts

You can also both text each other, and it will be no different than texting as if you were in the U.S. That might be easiest.

Posted by
115 posts

Just wanted everyone to know that I am digesting all of this and appreciating it, and talking to Consumer Cellular too. A couple of you mentioned that people with cell phones in the US don't need any special calling plan to make or receive calls to/from my US cell phone when it's in England, so that's good. Consumer Cellular verified this. I am the one who pays and sitter never pays. They clarified that wifi calling was really only best when you had no or few bars but did have wifi. Costs are the same to me as a cellular connection. Maybe there will be texts between us, but a real voice to voice phone call will be best if there are dog issues. Thanks! Ann.

Posted by
4700 posts

Again - the easiest thing for your dog sitter - without you paying expensive international roaming fees - is for you to get a Skype account, then get a US phone number from Skype. Your dog sitter doesn't need Facetime or Skype or anything else. She can call you from your landline at home, from a cell phone, etc, for no extra cost to her. She won't even know you are using Skype if you don't tell her. All she needs is to have your new Skype US phone number.

The complications are on your end. Install Skype on your iPhone. Add money to your Skype account, buy the US number. Presumably you're not used to Skype, so you'll have to setup voicemail, etc. the first time and get used to receiving and making calls with it. But it's designed to be easy to use.

And...when you get to the UK, get a UK SIM for your iPhone. It will have a UK phone number, but you don't ever have to use it.
Your sitter will be calling the US number you got from Skype.

Without a SIM, you'll still be able to use Skype for calls while on WiFi. So figure out a SIM as soon as you get to the UK, so you can use the the phone and Skype anywhere you have mobile reception.

Posted by
5366 posts

I think the OP has her questions answered, but I wanted to counter, respectfully a couple points, to avoid confusion of others.

Again - the easiest thing for your dog sitter - without you paying expensive international roaming fees - is for you to get a Skype account

In the case of the OP, she will have her cell phone, with her US number, so the easiest is for the sitter to just call her regular number, the sitter needs no special plan, the OP will not be charged roaming on a received call. Simple, it is just as the sitter and OP do today.

Further, if I am reading the posts correctly, the OP has a T-Mobile account (though it is through Consumer Cellular) this means that she has coverage at no additional roaming cost in Europe (sounds like she has the right plan) so really no need for her to utilize Skype or other WiFi apps for cost savings, only if she has poor reception and access to good WiFi. She simply needs to know how to correctly dial a call to the US, it is possible that just bringing up the contact will correctly dial for her.

Posted by
4700 posts

In the case of the OP, she will have her cell phone, with her US number, so the easiest is for the sitter to just call her regular number, the sitter needs no special plan, the OP will not be charged roaming on a received call. Simple, it is just as the sitter and OP do today.

The OP will be charged 30 cents per minute for calls she receives if she sticks with Consumer Cellular (see below). For a few quick calls, that's fine - but what if they need to talk for an hour? That could really add up. Plus, she would be charged a fortune to use the phone with mobile data - CC's data roaming rates are very expensive. That's why buying a UK SIM would make sense, if she wants to use the phone for more than a few phone calls.

Further, if I am reading the posts correctly, the OP has a T-Mobile account (though it is through Consumer Cellular) this means that she has coverage at no additional roaming cost in Europe

I'm pretty sure she meant: she has Consumer Cellular, which uses the T-Mobile network in the US - just like, I use Mint Mobile, which uses the T-Mobile network in the US. That doesn't mean she gets to use T-Mobile's international roaming plan; she has to use Consumer Cellular's international roaming plan, which is described here and not cheap for data:

https://www.consumercellular.com/Help/phones-and-services/8

(sounds like she has the right plan) so really no need for her to utilize Skype or other WiFi apps for cost savings, only if she has poor reception and access to good WiFi. She simply needs to know how to correctly dial a call to the US, it is possible that just bringing up the contact will correctly dial for her.

If money were no object, then yes, this is the easiest thing to do. But it wouldn't take long to install Skype on a smart phone, buy a US number - costs about $10 for a month. Then she can talk to the sitter as long as she needs to. All the sitter needs to do is dial the Skype US phone number instead of the regular cell number, from any phone. The OP would need to get a UK SIM card, though - but they are pretty cheap.

Posted by
5 posts

Ann,
As I understand, your question is not about rates, but about how exactly you are and your dog sitter dial to each others' cell phones. Luckily, it is easy - exactly as you do now. I should clarify that you should make sure you have each other's numbers saved with the plus sign and the country code (1 for US) in front. So her number should be saved in your phone as +1(999)9999999.

She does not need international dialing on her phone because she is calling a US phone number. You only need service enabled on your phone to make any call, which is no issue since you have T-Mobile - your phone will work as long as you can get a signal.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
115 posts

Again, thanks for all of this. My question did start out as what numbers do I press to call home and what numbers does my dog sitter press, but in reading all of your kind posts and talking to Consumer Cellular, it got much more involved. I also want to weave in some dog-saavy, backup friends at home to help if needed. Each of them has a different cell phone scenario. I have all the pieces in place, but it wasn't easy. I am not a facile cell phone user and did not want to introduce any new technology, chips, or apps beyond my comfort level. But I see now how to use texting, Facetime/Skype, and calls back and forth with the sitter and the backups. My sitter has a Tracphone through Walmart that uses the Verizon network, but her calling capability is dictated by Tracphone, as mine is by Consumer Cellular. She inquired and was told she has to buy an international calling card for $10 and then she can call me, but she cannot receive calls from me no matter what we do. She can send texts but can only receive a text from me if she is on wifi. She can use Facetime or Skype. I feel that If there are dog issues they need to be handled through succinct phone conversations, whether cell or Facetime audio, though quick replies could be by texts. Thank god I still have a landline, so when she's at my house, and she won't be there ALL the time, she can call and receive via that. I am hoping that all this stress and the time I have put into setting this up to make it easy for a young lady to get in touch with me and vice versa will be "wasted" as the dogs will be fine and she will never have to contact me! But one has to be prepared, just in case! Thanks everyone again! Ann.

Posted by
4700 posts

If you get a US phone number with Skype, then none of your friends needs to change or do anything to call you. Doesn't matter if they have a Tracfone or use Verizon or use a landline. All they'll have to do is dial your new US phone number. They won't know it is with Skype - only you will. They won't know whether they are calling you in the US or in the UK unless you tell them. The complication is all on your end, none on theirs. (And honestly, not that complicated on your end, once you work through each step.)