While calls to other Skype users are free, Skype users also want to converse with their family, friends and business colleagues who do not have Skype access but do have conventional landline or mobile phone services (“PSTN“). Skype offers two programs for making the connection.
You’ll never get a phone bill with Skype!
Calls to the PSTN (often called SkypeOut calls) may be prepaid through either:
- a “Pay-as You-Go” basis, using prepaid Skype Credit or
- a monthly or full year Skype Calling Plan subscription
Note: any rates mentioned below apply to Skype accounts in U.S. or Canada and are quoted in US dollars as of March 28, 2012. Check Skype’s website under “Prices” for rates that apply to your local country (and in a local currency, if supported). Rates are subject to change at Skype’s discretion.
Pay As You Go
SkypeOut calls can be made to over 170 countries on a “Pay-as-You-Go” basis. Rates vary by (termination) country; they start out at 2.3 cents per minute to land lines in over 30 countries including most of North America and Europe. All SkypeOut calls are subject to a small connection fee. Unique to Skype is that payment for “Pay-as-You-Go” services is done via Skype Credit which you purchase in advance of making calls or using a service. Skype credit can also be used for Skype voicemail and sending SMS text messages. (See the note below re calls to mobile phones.)
Skype Calling Plan Subscriptions
Skype Calling Plan subscriptions are offered for calls to landlines in 42 countries and to mobile phones in eight of those countries. Subscriptions are available for calls within a local country (code), a region or worldwide to all 41 countries for which subscriptions are available.
They may be purchased as a monthly or annual subscription; no contracts are required. They combine:
- free calls to any designated phone within the designated territory for the plan
- no connection fee
- landline and mobile for Canada, U.S., China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Guam and Puerto Rico
- landline only for 34 other countries
- subject to a fair use policy of 10,000 minutes/month
- Skype voice mail
- 50% discount off one Skype Online number with annual subscription
- Skype To Go numbers
- Call transfer and call forwarding to a landline (or mobile, if available) number within the subscribed territory
As an example, from the U.S. and Canada (both country code 1) the calling plans are:
- Unlimited U.S. and Canada: $2.99 per month
- Unlimited Europe: $8.99 per month (calls to 20 countries in Europe)
- Unlimited North America (includes calls to landlines in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey and reduced rates elsewhere for landlines and mobile): $7.99 per month
- Unlimited World (calls to U.S., Canada and 40 countries worldwide): $13.99 per month
Check out Prices | Pay Per Month at the Skype website for Skype Calling Plan subscriptions available from your local country. Note also that purchasing a 12-month subscription brings into play a 15% discount.
A Fair Usage policy applies to all Skype Calling Plan subscriptions which limit these plans to a 10,000 minutes per month, six hours calling per day and calls to 50 numbers per day. A third party utility, Subscription Monitor for Skype, provides a real time dashboard of your Skype usage. These subscriptions can only be used by one person (or Skype account) and cannot be shared across any multi-party platform or service such as a PBX or call center.
Note re calling mobile (wireless) phones: In Canada, the United States, China, Hong Kong and Singapore it is the user of the mobile phone who is responsible for paying costs for both inbound and outbound calls to/from a mobile phone. Outside these countries the wireless companies have a “caller pays” approach whereby a mobile phone user pays for outbound calls whereas the person calling, regardless of origination point, pays for inbound calls. As a result SkypeOut rates to mobile phones outside the eight countries named above can be as much as an order of magnitude greater than calls to landlines in these countries.
Connection Fees Update (Sept. 2009): For those consumer users with a Skype Calling Plan subscription, connection fees do not apply for calls to phone numbers in the Global Rate countries included within their particular Calling Plan. While the following table is a summary consult Skype’s Connection Fee page for more details:
Skype Online Numbers
Skype Online Numbers provide online phone numbers such that people can call you on Skype from any landline or mobile phone. These are most effective for providing “local” phone numbers to call, say, relatives who have Skype accounts in a remote country.
You can have as many as 10 SkypeIn numbers to a single Skype account selected from 24 available countries. For instance, if you operate in the U.S. but have customers in the U.K. who need a “local” support number, you can obtain a London number that comes back to your Skype account in the U.S. (or wherever you may be if you’re a road warrior).
A European-based caller will only pay any charges to call a London, U.K. number thereby avoiding high overseas rates for a call to the U.S.
Skype Online numbers cost $60 per year but have a 50% discount if you subscribe to a Skype Calling plan. Skype Online Numbers can be purchased for $18 for three months or $60 for a year; a 50% discount applies to the first number should you have a Skype Calling Plan subscription.
From Skype you can send SMS messages to any mobile phone worldwide. If you send a chat message but the user is determined to be not available, you are given the option to send the message via SMS if the recipient has included his/her mobile number in his/her Skype profile. Be warned that Skype SMS messages require that you have purchased Skype credit; click here for rates by destination country.
Skype Premium allows a Skype user to host Group Video Calls for up to ten participants, including the host at a cost of $9.95 per month with a 50% discount for a 12-month subscription. The plan also includes:
- Live Chat customer support, and
- A Skype Calling Plan subscription for free calls to landlines (and mobile phones, if available) in the one country of your choice (within the terms of the fair use policy).
- Screen sharing on group video calls