Once upon a time, Skype was a must-have for any Singaporean heading to an overseas university. It was the only way their parents could continue to nag them without having to pay astronomical phone bills. These days, there are a lot more options thanks to the many free calling apps and chat apps.
For the most part, you can call someone for free as long as you both have the same app installed on your phones.
If you need to call a land line or someone who doesn’t have the app, many of them offer you the option to call them for a fee. Still cheaper than calling long distance on your mobile phone, though.
The rates always depend on which country you’re calling. For the sake of easy comparison, we’ll be checking the Singapore rates, but obviously you should check your country of choice.
|Calling/chat app||Best rates for calling Singapore||Package (if applicable)|
|Skype||<US$0.01/minute||US$3.99/month (400 minutes) or US$6.99/month (unlimited)|
|LINE||<US$0.01/minute (free for up to 5 min for some countries)||US$0.50/60 minutes|
|S$0.063/minute||Available for China, Malaysia, Nepal|
|Only for Whatsapp contacts|
|FB Messenger||Only for Facebook friends|
|Google Hangouts||Only for Gmail/Gchat contacts|
|Telegram||Only for Telegram contacts|
Microsoft has left Skype to the dogs. It has to be said — the once-great service is not as good anymore, with dwindling audio quality.
But Skype still offers some of the cheapest rates for overseas calls, and also allows you to get a Skype number for yourself so your friends and family can call you without having to go through the Skype app.
You can make calls to landlines and mobile phones by buying Skype credits. Rates vary with the country – for Singapore it works out to US$0.023/min + US$0.049 connection fee per call.
If you make frequent calls, you can get a package. For Singapore, there are 2 to choose from. Either the US$3.99/month (S$5.44) one which gives you 400 minutes of talktime, or the $6.99/month (S$9.53) for unlimited talktime.
And of course, if you have someone on your Skype contact list, you can chat with, voice call and video call them for free.
Rates for calling non-Skype users: For calling Singapore, it’s US$0.023/min + US$0.049 connection fee per call. If you get a package, it’s less than US$0.01/min
LINE is yet another popular messaging app that enables you to call phones that don’t have the app installed.
While you can call all LINE users for free, calls to non-LINE users in certain countries for free for up to 3 or 5 minutes. Countries on the free list include China, Hong Kong, India, Australia, Korea, the UK, Germany, the US and Canada.
Alternatively you can buy a 30-day plan, which gives you a set number of minutes to use up within the month. The rates vary depending on the country you’re trying to call. For Singapore, it costs US$0.50 (S$0.68) for 60 minutes.
Rates for calling non-LINE users: Free for up to 5 min for certain countries, otherwise rates vary depending on country. For Singapore, it’s US$0.50 for 60 minutes (<US$0.01/min)
Viber is more than just a messaging app that lets you send cutesy stickers. Using the “Viber Out” function, you can now make international calls to landlines or mobile phones without the Viber app.
You will need to pay to use Viber Out, but rates are reasonable. For US$4.99, you get 227 minutes of talktime in Singapore. The number of minutes varies by country.
And of course, if you are communicating with someone who already has Viber installed on their phone, you can talk to them for free via normal call or video call.
Rates for calling non-Viber users: US$4.99 for 227 min (US$0.02/min) for Singapore
The Chinese messaging application has always been one step ahead of the pack… or at least Whatsapp. They were one of the first to introduce free voice calls and then video calls to other WeChat users.
Since 2016, WeChat Out has enabled users to make calls to non-WeChat users and landlines anywhere in the world. The rates for calls to Singapore are approx. S$0.063/minute.
There are also special packages for people who frequently call lines in China, Malaysia and Nepal.
Rates for calling non-WeChat users: Rates vary depending on country. For Singapore numbers, approx. S$0.063/min
Unless you don’t own a smartphone, you definitely have Whatsapp, which is the most popular messaging app in Singapore and possibly the world.
Whatsapp doesn’t let you make calls to non-Whatsapp users yet. But you can voice call or video call any other user so long as both are you have a data or wifi connection. In fact, if you have one of those mobile data plans with zero talktime, you are probably already using WhatsApp to make all your calls.
Rates for calling non-Whatsapp users: not available
Together with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger is the most-used messaging app in the world.
The biggest advantage of this app is that it lets you call any of your Facebook friends without having to have their actual phone numbers, which is handy when you lose your entire phone contact list.
Rates for calling non-FB users: not available
While Messenger lets you call your Facebook contacts, Google Hangouts lets you do the same with your Gmail contacts.
Hangouts lets you chat with, video call or voice call anyone with a Gmail address. If you’ve had a conversation with someone on Gchat, it means they’re contactable on Hangouts.
Rates for calling non-Google users: not available
Many mobile users see Telegram as a more secure alternative to Whatsapp.
Let’s hope this number grows, since you’ll need whomever you’re calling to be on Telegram as well in order to speak to them for free using their voice call function.
Rates for calling non-Telegram users: not available
Which is your favourite calling and chat app? Share your recommendations in the comments!
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