How to Make FREE Calls Home From Your Cell Phone While Traveling Abroad (and Outsource Hold Times)

call homeIn Thailand, under $10 worth of AIS mobile credit offers me over 2-hrs of international calls back home to Canada and under $35: an unlimited data plan for the month. So while this is close to free, what happens when you don’t have enough credit left to call home on a call you know could take some time (think hold time)? You outsource both the hold time and the international call itself and relax on the beach until your phone rings. Here’s how I recently did just this, for FREE:

Due to our undying love for travel, my wife and I carry annual travel insurance policies—courtesy of our credit card provider—that cover our health needs in any country around the world for up to 15-days of travel at a time. In our last minute rush to make our departing flights on time, we didn’t have time to “top-up” our insurance policy for our 5-week trip to SE Asia. We didn’t worry too much about it at the time as we knew we had over two-weeks to top-up, however one thing should be noted: 2-weeks goes by really quick!

Waking up early one morning we both realized our coverage was up and we had to act quick. After dialling the number and waiting on hold for a few minutes, I realized two things: a) we were almost out of credit on our phone and at the “premium” rate of $0.02 per minute (cheap isn’t it?) and b) I really didn’t want to sit on hold for 30-minutes. Thinking quickly, I emailed the Visa Concierge Services—also courtesy of our credit card provider—the following message:

To: Visa Concierge
Subject: **Urgent** – Travel Insurance Top-up


My wife and I require that our travel insurance policy be topped up inclusive of 35-days out of the country effective immediately. We are currently on the last day of the 15-day policy included with our card. While I realize my presence on the phone is required to confirm coverage, please contact RBC Insurance on my behalf, explain the situation, and conference me in on my local Thai phone number at: [Thai Number] where I will confirm the details with the insurance representative.

Thank-you for your immediate attention to this urgent request—I look forward to speaking with you shortly.

Best regards,

Within 15-minutes my cell phone rings, I confirm the details and a minute or two later, I’m off the phone. Because my email required them to call me, it was a local call at fractions of a penny per minute and I didn’t have to waste any of my own time sitting on the phone. Brilliant.

If you’re wondering what kind of credit card offers these types of services, have a look at any of the Infinite Visa cards available through RBC, CIBC, and TD Bank. I choose the RBC card due to a combination of coverage, reward programs, and some of the best customer service I’ve ever received from a credit card provider.

What kinds of tasks have you used your concierge service for? Let me know in the comments below or from the contact page!

  2 comments for “How to Make FREE Calls Home From Your Cell Phone While Traveling Abroad (and Outsource Hold Times)

  1. Louie
    September 27, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Sorry,but this article remains unclear.
    It states how only calling your insuarance company overseas is free but calling your mamma who is dying worrying over you is still subject to charge.
    Am I missing something?

    • Ryan Kononoff
      November 26, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Louie—using this technique, you could use the concierge service to call your mother, on your behalf, to have them let her know you’re safe. I’ve also used the concierge service to make the “expensive” call on my behalf (the outbound leg of the call), and to then to conference me into the call. Any inbound call of course would still be subject to fees (albeit, much lower fees than an outbound international call). Your mileage may vary.

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