Calling cell phones in the Philippines from the United States can be frustrating and in many cases, very expensive. Using traditional international long distance phone services is the most expensive way to contact anyone in the Philippines.
I’m going to tell you how to call both a cell phone and a standard residential telephone number (landline) and I’m going to mention better alternatives. Well, better alternatives most of the time.
To call a Philippines landline, you have to dial a string of numbers, starting with the international access number. The number is composed like this: 011-63-area code-phone number. The area codes can be found in major telephone directories. I won’t repeat all of them here but the area code for Manila is 2 and the area code for Olongapo (where my house is located) is 47. To call my home phone, you would dial 011-63-47-phone number.
The place in the calling sequence for the area code, when it comes to cell phones, is replaced by a 3-digit number which has nothing to do with any anything. All cell phone numbers in the Philippines start with 0. Pretend my cell phone number prefix is 0907. When you dial internationally, you have to remove the preceding zero. If you want to call my cell phone, you would dial: 011-63-907-phone number. No area code is involved.
These are the most expensive calls you can make, even if you’re using phone cards.
There are quite a few messaging apps available today, and I’m using Facebook’s Messenger as my example. My wife, Josie, and I use the app on our phones (or messenger.com on my laptop computer) to call people in both the United States and the Philippines. It doesn’t cost us anything extra. We also use it on phones without SIM cards, by using Wi-Fi alone.
Smartphones are available almost everywhere now. Even Filipinos in the Philippines can afford to use messaging apps with minimal “loads”. Wi-Fi hotspots exist in more places than ever, making some calls essentially free.
Making an expensive call between the United States and the Philippines through traditional telecommunications services is only acceptable when there’s an internet outage on either end. Internet outages are rare in both countries unless there’s also an extended brownout. Cell phones don’t work when the batteries can’t be charged or when data can’t be transmitted. I have already experienced both situations.