Got your loved ones in India? Looking for cheap and easy ways to call India from USA? Read on…
Are you in the USA while your family stays in India? Then you probably need to make calls to India more frequently, maybe almost daily. As many Indians are living here in the US like this, the demand for making calls to India at low rates is increasing day by day.
The problem with this is that finding a reliable, quality service is just plain confusing. I agree that there are several options today, like India calling cards, VOIP services, and even apps, but finding one that fits one needs is tough. Having said that, let’s take a look at some good options.
Cheap & Easy Ways to call India from the USA
Best Unlimited VOIP To Call India
Here is a list of the best ways to call India from the USA.
(Mobile App, 1¢/minute to mobile, 2¢ to landline)
Google makes everything simple and Google Voice is no different. It is an online calling service by which you can call any phone in any country at very cheap rates. Google voice offers low rates for making international calls from the USA to India. The rate per minute is 2 cents for landlines and 1 cent for mobile phones. You need to have a Google Voice account for making calls and you can do that in either of the ways below.
1. Go to the Google Voice website and dial the desired phone number after logging in to your account.
2. You need a mobile phone, a standard or cordless phone, and a VOIP adapter. Bind the VOIP adapter, cordless phone, and broadband connection together and start making calls.
Google voice also offers voicemail services also.
(VOIP Phone, Unlimited for $27/month)
Vonage is another popular way of making international calls using VOIP technology. This involves using the Vonage adapter, standard or cordless phone, and a broadband connection. You can buy the Vonage adapter from their official website here.
It offers unlimited calls to landline numbers in more than 50 countries and to mobile numbers for 10 minutes. India has unlimited talk time for both mobile and landline phones. The monthly charge for Vonage comes to around $29. If you want to make calls to India daily or more than 3 times per week and talk for a longer period of time, then this will be the best option for you. Vonage also offers voicemail service and it also sends the voicemail as mp3 files to your registered email address so that you know who has called even if you are out of the home. Many Indian Americans in the US use Vonage and it’s very popular with the Indian diaspora.
- The package comes with a wireless handset
- They have an initial offer of $9.99 for the first 6 months on a 1-year contract.
- You can also make and receive calls from their mobile app from anywhere.
(Mobile App, 2.3¢/ minute to landline & mobile)
Keku is a mobile app with which you can call India from any other country at cheap rates. It’s kind of weird how it works. It will assign a local number for your selected India number (one that they can keep forever). So when you call the local number, the call is automatically transferred to the international number (you will be charged for any local calls according to your carrier contract). It offers 1000 minutes of talk time for $10. For a 30-day monthly plan to India, it’ll cost you $17.99.
Check Keku’s official website for more details about this service.
(Mobile App, 1.5¢/ minute)
Skype is an application that will help you make audio and video calls to anyone via a computer or a mobile phone. They also have a paid option with which you can make calls to landlines and mobile phones in any country. Skype to Skype calls are completely free.
For this, the other person you are calling needs to have Skype installed on their smartphone or computer. But for calling people on their landlines or mobile phones in India, you need to have a paid subscription with Skype. They have two options – one is paying as you go where you just pay for whatever time you talk and the other is a monthly subscription.
Pay-as-you-go plan – 1.5¢/ minute to any mobile or landline in India.
Monthly subscription – $1.42/ month (120 minutes), $8.9/ month (800 minutes), $19.99/ month (2500 minutes). Details here.
International Calling Cards
Calling cards are similar to the prepaid SIM cards used in India in the sense you can talk for a limited number of minutes. It does not involve putting a SIM card in your phone for making calls. But it has a local access number and a PIN number.
You can dial the local number from any phone and enter the PIN. Then dial the international number you want to call. That’s it. The calling cards are cheaper than the local phone companies in the USA. Also, it does not involve any billing and statements.
Also read: Best travel insurance for USA
Viber (Mobile App)
Viber is a mobile application that allows you to call, SMS, and send text messages to another mobile with Viber. It only needs an internet connection or a 3G network on your mobile phone. You can call any mobile irrespective of the country. Mobile phones with platforms like Android, and Windows support Viber. Viber can also be used on iPhones and blackberry.
Reliance Global Calling Cards
From the popular brand Reliance, this service (Reliance Global Call) lets you call India at local rates (slightly higher than some of the other providers). This is not an app, but a calling card that you can buy and call anyone in India (landlines or mobile phones) after dialing the numbers on your calling card. The advantage is that you can call from any phone as it’s not restricted to any particular phone.
(Mobile App – Free but needs a smartphone)
I’m pretty sure everyone knows about this already. Whatsapp is a mobile app that if two parties have installed on their smartphones, can make calls to each other for free. Carrier charges may apply but if you are connected to your internet on WiFi, then there are no charges other than your internet service charges (nothing special for the calls).
The disadvantage is that the other person you are calling should also have Whatsapp installed on their smartphone and you cannot call landlines. You can install Whatsapp here.
(Mobile App – 1.1 ¢/ min)
Ringo is another mobile app that promises to make international calling cheap, especially from the USA to India. They boast of superior call quality over WiFi but I’m not entirely sure how much of that claim is true (this has become a cliche for most apps these days). Their rates are cheap, and you can call any landline or mobile phone via your app. Get more details here.
(Mobile App – Unlimited $10/ month)
RebTel is yet another international calling app for mobile phones but with a different solution. Their app can call any landline or mobile phone in India even without an internet connection. They too, claim superior call quality as they don’t need internet. Their India rates are $10/month with unlimited minutes. There is a restriction though – you can only call up to 30 numbers, so I think this is a good option for people using international calling for friends and family and not a business.
T-Mobile India Calling
($10/month Unlimited Calling)
T-Mobile users have an option to call any landline in India at $10/month and any mobile in India at $15/month as an additional package to their subscription. Get details about the service here.
(VOIP App 1.1 ¢/ min)
Free Callee is a VOIP mobile/desktop app that can call any mobile and landline number in India for cheap rates. You need to download the app and have an internet connection to make the call. Details on their official website here.
Add an adapter to the modem and start making calls.
Rate – $14.99/month promotion for the first 6 months. $25.99/month afterward.
What is the cheapest way to call mobile phones in India from USA?
Looking at all the different options above, if you’re looking for the cheapest option to call mobile phones in India, it will undoubtedly be Whatsapp. It is free and the call quality is amazing. However, the other person (whom you are trying to call) has to have a smartphone and will need to have Whatsapp installed. You cannot call landlines with Whatsapp yet.
What is the cheapest way to call landlines in India from USA?
On the other hand, if you are looking for the cheapest way to call landlines in India from the US, there are not too many options. In my opinion, Axvoice and Vonage are the best options, for several reasons. If you are the type who makes a lot of calls to India to a lot of different numbers, then this is the best option. You might get this done via a calling card but you don’t get your own number with them. With Axvoice and Vonage, you get your own number that stays with you wherever you go and you can call from their own wireless handset.
Why I don’t recommend VOIP Apps to call India
I’m not a big fan of calling via VOIP apps on mobile phones for multiple reasons. One, the call quality isn’t that great. Two, try calling someone for more than 10 minutes and your phone will heat up (depends on your handset). Google Voice and Skype may be exceptions but again, the experience of long calls via VOIP apps is terrible.
Which is the best way to call India?
So, which is the best way to call India then? In my opinion, don’t go for the cheapest option if you have lot of calls to make. If it is an emergency and you are just calling in for a short duration, then yes, calling cards or even VOIP apps are a good option. But if you will be talking for a long duration and needs a good experience, you might want to consider Axvoice.
Which are the best unlimited India calling VOIP services?
First of all, you have to understand that “unlimited” really doesn’t mean unlimited. Companies always have clauses in fine print that defines what unlimited means and it is usually X amount of hours. Also, if they notice that you’re abusing the system, then they can shut you down (like calling 24/7 perhaps).
Having said that, there are several unlimited VOIP services that allow you to call India. Check out the table for a detailed review of them.
What other services do you know that can be used to call India for cheap?