Part of your annual Microsoft 365 Personal/Family fee is an hour of calls on Skype to many overseas destinations, sometimes including calls to mobile phones.
Skype isn’t just for computer-to-computer calls, it can also make free or cheap calls to regular landline or mobile phone numbers (known as POTS – Plain Old Telephone Service).
We’re reminded of this by a travelling friend (no name, no shame) who was paying a lot of money for overseas calls back home from his mobile phone . He could have paid 0 cents per minute using his Microsoft 365/Skype allowance! Free or cheap calls on the same smartphone with the Skype app using either Wifi or mobile data.
Microsoft 365 Personal and Family plans include 60 minutes of calls from Skype on your computer or device to phone numbers. Of course, Skype calls between computers/devices are already free.
For some countries, you can call both landline and mobile numbers for no cost:
Canada, China, Guam, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Thailand, and United States.
A longer list of places have free calls to landline numbers only. In these cases, mobile/wireless numbers have special prefixes.
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Croatia, Colombia (excl. Lex), Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia (Jakarta), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, and Venezuela.
The 60 minutes of free calls are to standard numbers, including ‘toll-free’ or ‘free call’ numbers but not premium or ‘per minute’ numbers.
If you go over the 60 minutes, the per minute rates on Skype are very cheap. Calls to the USA are just 2.8 per minute (Peter is old enough to remember crackly overseas calls costing $2 a minute!). If you call a certain country or areas regularly there are monthly plans.
Even if you don’t expect to make any overseas calls (or calls back home when you’re travelling) it’s worth setting up the link between your Microsoft 365 and Skype accounts for when/if you’ll need it.
Tip: the free Skype allowance is very useful if you’re travelling and need to call back to your home country – to your bank or airline for example. Use Skype to call and you won’t mind so much being left on hold for a few while.
The 60 minutes of calls is automatically used if you make applicable calls.
Each person linked to an Microsoft 365 Family (formerly Home) licence (there’s six users allowed) gets their own 60 minutes of free Skype calls.