Calling to Russia and Ukraine – money saving tips

Old PhoneI have recently received an email from one of my readers asking how to call Ukraine without spending a lot of green. Since both my and my wife’s parents live in Ukraine (as well as many relatives) the topic of international phone calls to Ukraine has never been off the table and we have probably tried every possible way to save on international calling. Here are a few tips that will help you call Ukraine (and other ex-Soviet countries) without braking the bank.

Check what your current provider charges

If you are using one of VOIP providers the chances are they already have very competitive rates. SunRocket, when it was still alive, even offered $3.00 monthly credit towards international calling. My current provider Packet8 charges $0.13 to call a land line and $0.16 to call a mobile phone in Ukraine, which is a very good rate. For those of you still stuck with AT&T and the likes - read on.

For occasional calls use calling cards

If your provider doesn’t offer good rates and you need to call Ukraine just occasionally then check out this table (also in Russian). These guys are doing a good job maintaining it current. You can buy all these cards online. After you pay, you will receive instructions by email on how to call. I haven’t used calling cards for long time and can’t recommend any particular one. My own experience with those that I used was OK however I heard stories from people who claimed they were cheated (the card had less minutes than advertised).

Have broadband internet - give Skype a try

Skype has pretty decent rates if wearing a headset while talking is not an issue for you. They charge $0.134 to call a land line and $0.186 to call a mobile number in Ukraine. Rates to Russia are $0.048 to a land line, $0.071 to a mobile phone, and $0.021 if you call Moscow or St.Petersburg. There is a small connection charge of $0.039.

You will need to sign up to Skype Out if you don’t have it yet. Once you do so you will be able to call regular phone numbers just as you call other Skype clients. In addition I found Skype Out very useful when calling the US from Ukraine (more about it here).

Calling often - change your long distance provider

If your demands are more than a couple of calls a month and your current provider don’t over good rates then it will be cheaper and more convenient to change long distance provider. You usually can keep your service provider and just change the company servicing long distance calls. I can recommend WDT as one such company offering decent service and competitive rates to Ukraine, Russia and other ex-Soviet countries. I have been their client for several years and many my friends are using them as well.

WDT charges $0.139 to call both land line and a mobile number in Ukraine. For Russia the price is $0.059 for a land line and $0.119 for mobile phones. The rate is just $0.025 per minute when you call Moscow or St.Petersburg. These rates don’t have any connection charges or other tricks. If you want though you can sign up to a “Value Plan” where you prepay for certain number of minutes a month at a lower rate.

Time difference and voice quality

And the last but not the least, when you call Ukraine or Russian, beware of the time difference. When it is morning here in the US, it is late afternoon over there. Midnight here would be early morning of the next day in Ukraine. I have noticed that voice quality varies slightly depending on when you call. This is especially noticeable when calling small towns where they have outdated equipment and century old phone lines. The rule of thumb is try to avoid busy hours when phone service is overloaded. This is usually weekends at night Ukrainian time (Saturday and Sunday morning here).

That is all I have. Do you happen to call Ukraine? What service provider do you use? Please leave your tips in the comments.

The photo courtesy of Rissmu @ stock.xchng

See also:

11 Responses to “Calling to Russia and Ukraine – money saving tips”

  1. 1 Alex Aug 14th, 2007 at 8:18 am

    MasterCall Communications has rates similar to WDT.

  2. 2 Megan Aug 15th, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Also check out jaxtr for free international calls. Its free to sign up and if say a friend in Ukraine signs up for jaxtr, his or her friend in the US click to call them for free, and will then be given a local US number that they call in the future which will connect with their friend in Ukraine. Definitely worth checking out:

  3. 3 Dean Aug 15th, 2007 at 7:37 pm

    SkypeOut is awesome, just get one of those converters and you can use a regular telephone to receive and make calls if you don’t like using a headset.

    One of the best things about Skype is you can access to your voice messages online, just like checking email.

  4. 4 Rich Aug 29th, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    Skype from the US to a mobile phone in Kiev works great – crystal clear and only $.13 per minute.

    Can Yan or anyone recommend a good internet cafe in Kiev?

  5. 5 Yan Aug 29th, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Actually Skype-out to a mobile phone in Ukraine will be $0.186 (see here)

    I haven’t been long enough in Kiev to help you with internet cafe. Check this list out. Not that I went to any, just Googled it out.

  6. 6 Olena May 13th, 2009 at 11:18 am

    You might be interested to check this provider – seems to have quite a nice deal

  7. 7 GRE Jun 10th, 2009 at 10:38 am

    VONAGE is the best service that works for us. Just take it to Ukraine and hook it up to the internet. I pay less then $9 a month for this service. And I can call anytime and any day of the week without dialing super long phone numbers on the phone card and punching in aggravating pin numbers. In addition to a crystal clear connection you can also receive calls from Ukraine to your local cell or home number.
    Check it out!

  8. 8 Nick Sep 11th, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Starec Comunications has rates to Ukraine for 7.9 land line and 10.9 mobile. There website is

    Startec is a prepaid cell plan. No Hidden or Maintenance Fees No Connection / Disconnection Fee No Account Fees Exact 1-Minute Rounding Account Expires Only After 1 year. Guaranteed Rates – No Change After Purchase

    The next best plan is Tel3Advantage. They have a 30 day discounted rate for new sign up 7.4 land line and 9.4 mobile but after that the rates go to 10.5 Land line and 13.8 mobile.

  9. 9 Bill Sep 26th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Are all of these services also available to call FROM Ukraine TO the USA … I noticed that the rates are different with Skype … is that so with the others?

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