Are Services Like Rebtel Too Much Work for Business Travelers?


Cell PhoneRebtel and Jajah are telcom services that allow you to use your regular mobile phone to place international calls for next to nothing. Unlike Skype, you don’t need to be in a wifi hotspot to make it happen. But it does require a little extra effort, which may or may not be worth the time. This leads to the question: Is
Rebtel worth the hassle?

If you travel to a few international destinations on a regular basis (like your plant in Mexico and office in India), it may be an effective way to keep in touch with the home base without having to search for a hotspot.

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How it works:

  • Sign up (big shocker): You enter all your personal info, just like everything else you sign up for in the world. You are assigned a number for managing your account and a number for creating local numbers for you contacts at this time.
  • Charge Your Account: You need your credit card or Pay Pal info at this step. Rebtel is not totally free. What would Carrie do? Use my miles card, of-course. Payments are not automatic, but you can choose to recharge when a certain monetary value is reached (much like how the i-pass or any other toll-road system works).
  • Create local numbers for your contacts abroad: Enter your international contacts’ information and a local number is generated for that person. You and your contact will receive the number via text message.
  • Calling: This is the part that gets tiresome. Call your contact’s new local number. If you place the call and keep talking, you will be charged a per-minute fee. Your friend has to hang up within 30 seconds (kind of like the 5 second rule) and call you back on your corresponding local number while you remain on the line. If you disconnect within those first 30 seconds, there is no charge.
  • The trick: Save your contacts’ local numbers in your phone. Then when you receive a call from a rebtel number, you can stop the call and immediately call back. This takes out the pressure of having to disconnect in a whopping 30 seconds.
  • On the Road: When traveling abroad, create local numbers for your “at-home” contacts to use while you’re away. This will probably be REALLY dependant on how your cellular service provider does things.

What’s the holdup? I’m not crazy about having to call a person and have them call me back immediately. From a business perspective, you may not have time to deal with the extra steps when you’re making a quick call between meetings or in the car. Also, it seems a little unprofessional. It does help if you have the numbers programmed in your phone and don’t answer the phone.

Is it really worth all of the calling and hanging up on people? With the widening wifi capabilities in the world, I’m not so sure. We have enough work to do when we’re on the road, but it is nice to have options.