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My parents are travelling to the US for the first time and have not ever been on international travels. They have a layover in Schiphol and I want them to contact me. I have never personally transited through Schiphol and do not know how things work there. What would be the options to call from there? Would they need to buy a calling card? Any idea of how much it would cost?

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Do they have a cell phone? – Karlson May 2 '14 at 19:31
yes, but i figured cell phones would be a bad choice considering the outrageous costs – Ron May 2 '14 at 19:32
But you're not limiting the options based on cost. – Karlson May 2 '14 at 19:38
I was wanting to find a balance between cost and ease. If it is fairly easy for first time visitors to find their way through the system and make a call I would prefer that. If it is complicated, Cellphones would be the best choice – Ron May 2 '14 at 19:43
Do you actually need to talk? Sending/receiving SMS messages is normally still relatively cheap when roaming, so if you're just after a "we're on time" style message than that may be a good option. – Doc May 3 '14 at 3:50
up vote 11 down vote accepted

If your parents travel with either a tablet or a computer you could consider using Skype-out to call landlines and mobile phones world wide. Schiphol has decent Wifi connection throughout the airport. With each device that you have with you, you can use the Wifi offered for 30 minutes twice. So simply hook on to the Internet and call the phone numbers with your skype app. You might suggest bringing a headset.

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I use this service, it offers good prices and quality. – Heidel Ber Gensis May 3 '14 at 0:30
...and if both parties have Skype installed, you don't even need to use Skype-out, at which point it becomes free. – Ilmari Karonen May 3 '14 at 10:44

According to the Schiphol website there are a some public phones throughout the airport. You will need a credit card, or euro coins. Seeing the prices, I think it is far easier to have them call you by their mobile phone, or maybe send a text message.

Public telephones Public telephones are available throughout Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. They work on coins, a telephone card or credit card. For the exact locations, please contact the information desks in the terminal.

The following rates apply for the use of public telephones at Schiphol:

The starting rate

  • Telephone card € 0,00

  • Coins € 0,50

In addition to the starting rate, you pay a rate per minute. This rate depends on the dialed destination.

Rates per minute

• The Netherlands € 1,00 per minute

• Europe & North America € 1,75 per minute

• Other Countries € 2,75 per minute

Be aware that paying by credit card makes a phone call substantially more expensive

Credit card payment:

Within the Netherlands: € 5,00 starting rate and € 1.00 for each additional minute

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@$2+/minute you might as well use your cell phone – Karlson May 2 '14 at 20:01
@Karlson Isn't that exactly what I write? On the website they also list $5 start-up costs :o – Bernhard May 2 '14 at 20:41
I called from a public phone at Schiphol in 2008. The advertised rates were reasonable, but I was charged $40 for a 3-4 minute call. – R-traveler May 3 '14 at 1:51
I would avoid using public phones at Schiphol at all costs; read this forum:… – R-traveler May 3 '14 at 1:57
@R-traveler I added this in my answer. – Bernhard May 3 '14 at 7:57

If you have network access with your smartphone (and the answer from @andra) suggest you will), I would recommend SmartVoip (

You need to buy credit before using it, with a minimum of 12 euros (about $16), but their rates are really cheap. And, if you are calling to US you're lucky, as calls are free both to mobile and landline for 90 days.

I'm a user of this service for years and it is really awesome. I use it to call to Ecuador with a low rate, or to Spain, UK and Germany for free (in these cases free only to landlines). The quality of calls is excellent with a decent connection and with 3G works flawlessly.

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Why would you make a purchase of 12 euro for a single phone call? – Karlson May 3 '14 at 1:29
Presumably because you'd use it more than once...and once you've done the initial top up, it's cheap after that...? – Mark Mayo May 3 '14 at 2:03
@Karlson: I live abroad and I call quite often, obviously it doesn't apply to everybody. But once you have top up you can call anywhere in the world for a fraction of what you would pay with your usual company. The top up doesn't expire, only the 90 free days. – Igor Rodriguez May 3 '14 at 11:43

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