Before you arrive in the USA it is best to try and find a communication solution that works for you, so the day you land in the USA you will have access to either call people or for people to call you. With the cost of mobile phones and sim cards decreasing all the time, these are often the best solution for all your communication needs. However the cost of calling abroad from mobile phones is still very expensive, so a combination between using your mobile phone and calling cards is often the best strategy.
There are a number of options with which to call abroad from the USA, and the most popular are:
VOIP - Voice Over Internet Protocol
With the growth of high speed internet access around the world, and WiFi spots emerging everywhere - VOIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol is often a great way for students to make cheap, low cost calls. Applications such as Skype and the Gizmo Project allow you to do this from your computer, and although calling is often very cheap or sometimes free, there are many downsides such as the lack of quality on VOIP connections, the lack of mobility and much more…
Calling Cards / Phone Cards
Calling cards and phone cards are still probably the most popular form of communication when people want to call internationally as they offer a flexible and reliable way to make calls quickly and easily. There are a number of providers that offer cards and there are also many pitfalls that you have to avoid with calling cards such as minutes experiencing, adding charges and hidden charges.
Mobile Phones / Sim Cards
As technology advances, mobile phones and sim cards are becoming a real option for many travelers as they offer you the flexibility to have a mobile in the country you visiting. If you have a tri or quad band GSM mobile phone, you will most likely be able to take your current mobile phone with you and simply insert a new sim card. You can find more information on our prepaid phone and SIM card resources pages.
For more information on communication solutions for the USA, and for a more in-depth look into all the above options including providers that can offer service to international students, please see our communication center for students.