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Skype: here's how to use it to save money during the holidays

As the summer holidays approach, one of the dilemmas or concerns is that of telephone calls. Often communicating with friends and relatives from a distant location (especially if from abroad) can represent a real drain, capable of deeply undermining the economic finances of the traveler. The solution? it could be in your pocket and we are not talking about your wallet but about your iPhone or iPod touch, or even inside your Mac: it is Skype (sponsor), the most famous Voice over IP service.

The provider of Voice Over Ip access (voice on the Internet) has numerous solutions to save money and some of these pass right through the two pocket devices and the Apple computer

In this first of the three episodes, we will explain how the service generally works, what options are available and how to buy them. Although Skype is known by a large number of Apple users, in fact, for some of the more recent or less savvy it may not be easy to extricate themselves in the jungle of offers and services.

WHAT SKYPESkype, as mentioned, works using the Internet. In practice, it redirects voice calls over the Internet. This is done through a client that is freely downloaded on the Mac and that allows you to have numerous free basic functions including text chat, video chat and voice calls from computers and computers. But the real strength of Skype is the ability to make real phone calls from landline or mobile computers.

The offer of is basically divided into two main strands, which in a different way want to meet their communication needs. It involves choosing between a monthly subscription, a pay-as-you-go (SkypeOut) or a number to receive (SkypeIn). In both cases, Skype offers very competitive rates that can represent a real "windfall" for those who care about their wallet, as well as other useful services to improve the service.

CONSUMER PAYMENTThe pay-as-you-go payment works exactly like in the case of mobile top-ups: you can top up your SkypeOut credit by purchasing it online. The accepted payment methods are credit card, bank transfer or Paypal, choosing to increase your credit by 10 or 25 euros.

Once purchased from that moment it will be possible to make calls and send SMS. Calls to other Skype users, as mentioned, are completely free, while calling or sending SMS to landline or mobile will have a precise cost, determined exclusively by the destination of the number called.

The savings and the tariff depend exclusively on the destination of the calls: for example a call to landline for France will cost only 0.02 euros; a call to Venezuela 0.048.

The same goes for text messages that also have very specific rates depending on the destination of the message.

Once you run out of credit, simply reload your account online to start communicating again.

SUBSCRIPTIONSubscriptions are formulas at a fixed rate: by spending a fixed monthly you can make all the calls you want to landline, limited to the chosen offer. It is important to remember that the subscription includes only unlimited calls to landlines; SMS are not included, while for calls to mobile the offer included only in some countries.

The Italian user can choose three types of subscriptions: Without Country Limits, which allows you to call anywhere in Italy or in a nation of your choice at 4.54 euros per month; Without Limits Europe, to call all landlines in Europe at 5.69 Euros per month; Without World Limits, to call landlines in the world at a cost of 10.29 euros per month. The list of European and world countries reported on the appropriate pages.

The subscription already includes the Answering Machine, a service that can separately cost € 5.75 for three months or € 17.25 for a year, and offers a discount for the SkypeIn service.

SkypeInWith Skype, every user can conveniently take advantage of an online number: by purchasing the service for 17.25 euros for three months and 57.50 euros for a year, it will be possible to buy a virtual number with an Italian prefix.

In Italy it is possible to obtain a SkypeIn number with geographic prefix for the following provinces: Bari, Bologna, Brescia, Catania, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Padua, Palermo, Rome, Salerno, Turin, Venice and Verona. The chosen number will become your number staff, whose friends and relatives can call you to communicate with you via Skype.

With SkypeIn, if for example a Milan number has been purchased, anyone who calls you on your SkypeIn will be as if he were always calling Milan, even if you are in London, Tokyo or San Francisco.

After this overview of the offers of Skype, in the next episodes we will talk about the specific functions of Skype for Mac and Skype for iPhone and iPod touch, how to use it to save money on vacation or to call who on vacation.