Basic rates are non-discounted rates for international calls from landline phones made by customers who have not signed up for a monthly international calling plan with their service provider or some other discounted calling option.  Basic rate calling may be a convenient and cost-effective alternative for consumers who make occasional international calls because it doesn't require enrolling in a calling plan.  However, the difference between basic rates and rates for other international calling options may be substantial.  Consumers using basic rates for phone calls to mobile phones internationally also may incur additional charges.  For more information on international calls to mobile phones, check the Consumer Guide:  Surcharges for International Calls to Wireless Phones.

Examples of Basic Rates

Examples of Basic Rates

Taken from rates posted in September 2016 for international calls to a few countries, the table below illustrates price differences between basic rates, monthly plans, and other options.  For example, in September 2016, Verizon's basic rate from the United States to India was $6.76 per minute while the rate on Verizon's monthly plan  was $0.28 per minute.   AT&T's basic rate for calls to Canada was $1.45 per minute, while its monthly plan rate was $0.05.

International Calls from Landline Phones
Basic Rates vs. Monthly Plans vs. Skype

Calls to:
AT&T Basic Rate AT&T Worldwide Value Calling
Verizon Basic Rate Verizon City Rates ($4.99/month) Skype
Canada $1.45 $0.05 $1.04 $0.05 $0.023
China $5.00 $0.11 $6.65 $0.15 $0.020
India $5.00 $0.28 $6.76 $0.28 $0.015
Mexico $3.25 $0.09 $0.05 $0.17 $0.010
UK $3.25 $0.08 $2.89 $0.08 $0.023

International Calls to Mobile Phones
Basic Rates vs. Monthly Plans vs. Skype

 Calls to:
AT&T Basic Rate-Mobile AT&T Worldwide Value Calling ($5.99/ month)-Mobile Verizon Basic Rate-Mobile Verizon City Rates ($4.99/ month)-Mobile Skype-Mobile
Canada $1.45 $0.05 $1.04 $0.05 $0.023
China $5.00 $0.11 $6.65 $0.17 $0.020
India $5.00 $0.28 $6.77 $0.29 $0.015
Mexico $3.40 $0.24 $0.05 $0.32 $0.035
UK $3.45 $0.28 $3.10 $0.29 $0.10

Finding Basic Rates

How to Find Basic Rates

Currently, both Verizon and AT&T have international basic rates for calls to every country in the world.  They also have international basic rates for calls to certain specific companies like Inmarsat, Global Satellite or Networks.

FCC rules require carriers that charge international basic rates to make them easily available to consumers on their website.

Major Carriers' Basic Rates Posted on the Web

Consider Other Options

Explore Alternatives for Your International Calling Needs

To avoid paying basic rates for, consider other options to find the best rates for your calling needs.  You can contact your service provider and sign up for an international monthly calling plan and confirm the price you will pay for countries you are likely to call, or use a company that offers international calling plans.  For more information, see additional FCC consumer guides:

Printable Version

Check Basic Rates Before Making International Calls :  Word | PDF

Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Tuesday, February 27, 2018