Are you an E5 or audio conferencing licensed user and are a little confused with exactly how you’re somehow able to make outbound calls from meetings but don’t appear to be being charged for this? Communications credits is the answer! Let’s jump in and explore.
What exactly are communications credits?
Communications credits are a way to pay for calls your end users and customers make from within Microsoft Teams meetings, as well as calls to toll free numbers that you’ve set up for call queues, auto attendants and conference bridges and calls to international phone numbers if you only have domestic calling plans.
There are actually two different kinds of Communications Credits:
Audio Conferencing Dial Out Minutes that are included as part of your licensing
In most countries, each E5 or Audio Conferencing license you purchase in Office 365 grants you 60 minutes of audio conferencing dial out/call me at credits, per month.
These credits are pooled, and anyone with an E5 or Audio Conferencing license can use them to call phone numbers within Zone A countries (link here: Country and region zones for Audio Conferencing – Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Docs)
Want to check how many you currently have in your Office 365 tenant? Head on over to the Teams Admin Center > Analytics & Reports > Usage Reports > PSTN minute & SMS pools (currently in preview)
Once you’ve used up all minutes during that month, outbound calls from meetings will fail unless you set up a source of billing for billed communications credits.
Communications credits that are billed on a monthly basis
If your users want to call countries that are not within Zone A from meetings, or you want to ensure outbound calls from meetings can continue even if all pooled minutes are used up in a month, you’ll need to configure Billed Communications Credits.
To do this, you’ll need to first purchase a Communications credits subscription from the Office 365 Admin Center > Billing > Purchase Services page. You’ll be asked to add a source of payment (i.e. credit card) to your tenant and whether you wish to configure auto-recharge (which is recommended).
Once this is done, you’ll then see Communications Credits licenses appear. Assign these to your users with E5/Audio conferencing licensing.
How are these credits used?
There are a number of scenarios where communications credits are used:
Placing an outbound call from a meeting to invite someone in, or to call yourself into a meeting via phone
For numbers in Zone A countries:
If you join a meeting using the call me at option or dial someone in to the meeting via their phone number, this will consume audio conferencing dial out/call me at minutes.
If 5 people do this during the meeting for 60 minutes:
5 x 60 minutes = 300 minutes of audio conferencing dial out/call me minutes.
For Numbers outside of Zone A countries:
Anyone that uses the Call me at feature, or you add them into a meeting via their phone number, these calls will be billed on a per-minute basis, based upon the country you’re calling from, and the country you’re calling. See this link for specific call charges (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?LinkId=799523)
Remember though, for users to call non-zone A countries, you must have billed communications credits configured in your tenant along with a payment source (such as a credit card), as these calls won’t come out of your audio conferencing dial out/call me at minutes. Ensure you’ve also assigned Communications Licenses to each user that you wish to grant meetings they create to allow attendees to call non Zone A countries.
Can I control who can call which country?
Yes. You can set a users dial out permissions within the Teams Admin Center > Users > Username > Account > Edit (Under Audio conferencing > Dial-out From meetings
You can also set this using PowerShell:
Grant-CsDialoutPolicy -identity firstname.lastname@example.org -policyname “DialoutCPCZoneAPSTNDisabled”
Note: PSTNDisabled disables the ability for the user to make outbound calls via phone system, to be sure to use the correct policyname from the above list. This is the same setting that appears here:
What about Toll Free Numbers?
If you want to use toll free numbers for conference bridges, call queues or auto attendants (and they’re available in your country) you’ll need to ensure you have a billable communications credit balance available.
Calls to toll free numbers are billed against your billable communications credits. They don’t come out of your audio conferencing dial out/call me at minutes.
Note that if you attempt to purchase a toll free number with no billable communications credit balance, you’ll see that you’re unable to obtain one:
Billable communications credit balance of $0.00:
Billable communications credit balance of $20.00:
Anything else I can use my communications credits for?
Yes – remember that you can also use communications credits to allow users who have been assigned a communications credit license (and phone system license) to be able to call internationally, even if they’ve only been assigned a domestic calling plan. These calls will be charged on a per minute basis.
docs.microsoft.com has detailed documentation on exactly how to setup and use communications credits. You’ll find the documentation here: What are Communications Credits? – Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Docs