The cost of making international calls

Picking up a phone or sending a text to a loved one abroad is one of the best ways to stay in touch, especially considering the distance. But this comes at a cost. Moneybags journalist, Danielle Van Wyk, looks at the cost of making calls abroad across the major network providers.


One of South Africa’s bigger network providers, Vodacom, boasts with two international calling packages, namely International Calling and International Calling Plus.

See the cost breakdown below:

Cost International Calling International Calling Plus
Service fee cost per month FREE R5 per month
How calls are charged Per minute Per second


“While the International calling package comes at no extra monthly service fee cost, calls are based on the Standard International Calling rate at which you are charged depending on your price plan and the country you wish to call,” said Vodacom. These rates are applicable for the International Calling Plus package too.

Rates range from 89 c per minute, if you were to call someone in Alaska for example, to R5, 99 if you are calling someone in Mali.

When it comes to the billing structure the International calling package charges you per minute you spend on the phone, whereas the International Calling Plus customers are billed per second, in attempt to save money.


“As an MTN PayAsYouGo or MTN Contract subscriber, your SIM card is set up for international calls by default,” explains MTN.

Like Vodacom, MTN also offers two packages, one being the Standard Rate and the other the In Bundle Rate. These are dependent on which service plan you are subscribed to.

“While you can now make your international calls at the same rate to both landline and mobile numbers in selected countries. Please note that international call tariffs may vary for different countries,” MTN advises.

Here customers can expect to pay anywhere from 59 c to as high as R15 per minute, depending on where you are calling to.



Cell C

Cell C international calls are charged at a per-minute rate, but billed per second.

Cell C has a standard approach in that all Cell C customers on Contract, Prepaid, TopUp/Controlchat automatically qualify for reduced international call rates.

Further, rates vary from R4 to around R20, country dependent.

But which network provider is the cheapest?

Moneybags chose 4 countries and compared the costs across the three providers listed, below:

Vodacom MTN Cell C
New Zealand 89 c R1.49 R1.49
United Kingdom R1.79 R1.49 R2.99
U.S.A 89 c R1.49 R1.49


Based on the above, which is only a sample of the various countries, Vodacom is the cheapest when it comes to making international calls, followed by MTN, while Cell C seems to be the most expensive.

If you are someone who regularly makes contact with someone who lives abroad, it may be worth your while to investigate how much you are paying, and whether your network provider has the best offering for you.