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(Pocket-lint) - As our final article on Skype Up Your Life week on Pocket-lint, we have one more piece of Secret Skype advice that you might think worth taking. We talking about paid Skype, the other side to Skype that financially supports the rest of the model. You can actually use Skype for something more than just IM and Skype-to-Skype calls to your buddies online. 

We hinted at it with our Secret Skype on voice messages and SMS and our tips on using Skype for your landline. Now, we’re going to take a look at the entire premium side of the Skype equation. This is what’s on offer and what it will cost you. You decide whether you think it’s worth it.

Skype Premium

The first place to start is probably with the best-sounding deal of the lot, and it’s a particularly good one if there’s one specific country that you call most of all  - and that can include the country in which you live.

Skype Premium is like normal Skype but with a few extras. You get group video calling, group screen sharing, no advertising on your desktop application and live chat customer support should you need it. What’s also thrown for the £3.44 a month (if you sign up for a 12-month contract) is unlimited calls to landlines in a country of your choice. That can be the UK, and if you choose the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore it also includes mobile phones.

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You don’t have to sign up to Skype Premium for a year, there are also six-month and one-month packages, although the monthly rate basically doubles once you get to the one-month option. It’s also possible to sign up to Skype Premium for just one day with a Premium Day Pass. The cost of that is £3.44 and is aimed at users needing to host any kind of group video calling on a one -off basis.

Skype Premium might not be the one solution for all of your calling needs but it’s fairly compelling as an extra if you make anything like one call to, say, the US every month.

Skype Subscription

Of course, you don’t have to bother with Skype Premium at all if you want to get a decent rate on making calls to landline and mobile phones, either at home or around the world. Skype offers several different subscription packages to keep things as economical as possible for you.

Commit to paying a different £3.44 and it could also afford you the bottom end of Skype’s landline calling subscriptions - 400 minutes of talk time credit to use as you will. That works out as around 0.8p/minute. For a bit more you can have unlimited calls to within the UK or the UK, US, Ireland and Canada, all of Europe or, indeed, all of the world; the last of which comes in at £9.76 a month unless you want to throw in China as well.

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It’s also possible to add mobile into the mix, but the lower-end minutes bundles don’t seem to work out that well. You can have 60 or 120 minutes a month at a rate of 13.5p/minute but better seems to be the 400 minutes a month package for £21.84m which then equals 5.4p/minute. If that sounds pricey, do remember that these include mobile calls to cell phones and landlines in any destination.

The best deal offered for mobile and landlines, however, is the Unlimited Europe agreement. With that, you pay £29.31 a month and get unlimited calls to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

PAYG Skype Credit

Finally, if you’d rather not sign up to anything regular, then you can always just make calls on an ad hoc basis using Skype Credit. The rates aren’t particularly amazing if you’re calling from the UK to the UK. A landline call comes in at around 1.6p/minute and to a mobile 17.1p/minute. On the other hand, those landline rates are about the same for any country you call and that’s going to be a lot cheaper than using a standard home or office phone account.

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Even better is that calls to mobile phones in countries such as the US and China are pretty much the same rate as the landline equivalent. and that’s certainly somewhere towards make a big saving. Take a look at the Skype PAYG rates page to see what it will cost you to call your usual numbers and decide for yourself.

SMS and Voicemail

If you’d like to know more about the costs and possibilities that Skype has with SMS and Voicemail, then take a look at our Secret Skype: SMS and Voicemail article.