Free Unlimited Calling: Make Google Voice One of Your Five

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Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to get free, unlimited calling to anyone from your cell phone, without having to pay for your cell phone company’s premium unlimited plan? Well… there might be!

First, a little warning

What I’m about to propose may be prohibited by your cell phone company. After all, they want to make as much money as possible from you. So make sure to check your cell provider’s terms of use before making this your full-time way of calling.

Now the good stuff

Google has built up a reputation of giving things away for free. Their Google Docs tools essentially replace Microsoft Office (for free), YouTube (owned by Google) lets you watch all the free video you want, while the ubiquitous GMail provides email access to millions (also free). Click here for a list of free Google services.

But one Google product you might not be familiar with yet is Google Voice. The service gives you a free local phone number from which you can make and receive unlimited national calls without paying a dime (their international rates are also some of the lowest I’ve seen).

How does it work? Google forwards all calls it receives on your Google Voice phone number to any other phone number(s) you specify. This can be a land line, cell phone, or any combination of multiple numbers. Thus, you can give out your Google Voice phone number and when someone calls, you can have it ring your home phone, your work phone and your cell phone all at the same time.

But here’s the killer feature… Google Voice lets you decide whether you want incoming calls to show the actual caller ID of the person calling you, or just your Google Voice phone number. So if you set things up right, every single call coming in from your new Google Voice phone number will look like it’s coming from only your Google Voice phone number. This is a really good thing if your cell phone plan has a “Top 5 Friends” feature (or something similar) where you can choose several phone numbers to make and receive unlimited calls from.

Suppose you add your Google Voice phone number to your “Top 5″, so that all calls coming from that number are free. Then, only give out your Google Voice phone number so that whenever someone calls you, they’re calling you through Google Voice. Remember, your Google Voice phone number is showing up on the caller ID for every call you receive, so as far as your cell phone provider is concerned, it will appear as if you are making and receiving calls to and from only one phone number… a phone number in your Top 5.

Now call up your cell phone provider and drop your plan to the lowest priced one they offer (which still has the Top 5, or similar feature). You’ll pay the lower rate to your cell phone company and use the free Google Voice phone number to make and receive calls on. Since the Google Voice number is in your Top 5, all calls to and from that number will be free.

Voila! Depending on your current plan, you might’ve just saved yourself $50 or $60 a month. Of course, the catch is that you’ll have to get your friends and family to start calling a new phone number, but it’s really not as difficult as it might seem.

How to get a Google Voice phone number

Right now, Google Voice is still in “beta”… meaning it isn’t quite ready for primetime. So, the only way to get a Google Voice phone number is to get an invitation. You can sign up to request one from Google, or ask a friend who already uses Google Voice if they were given any invitations they can pass on.

But since it’s a cool service, offers dirt cheap international calling, and provides you with a unified phone number that can ring all your phones (for free!), its probably worth the wait for your invite to come.

Request a Google Voice phone number from Google.

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Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.

  • http://www.moneytalksnews.com/ Dan Schointuch

    AT&T's program is called “A-List”: http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/

    T-Mobile's is called “myFaves”: http://support.t-mobile.com/doc/tm23211.xml

    However, you'll have to check with your cell provider as your eligibility typically depends on which plan you're currently subscribed to. My guess is that Pay-As-You-Go doesn't qualify.

  • http://twitter.com/ghj19 Gaurav Joshi

    You sign up with the lowest plan on minutes but will have to pay $15 to $30 for data plan depending on your smartphone or use Wi-Fi where available. At the end of day it all works out to be the same. also need to download Google voice app for your device if available.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_F3P7YO5O2NS4JGNLNZXRVII3VM Joseph

    ok, but doesn't magic jack already give's a phone # & caller id.
    and maybe international calls ?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AY5WWCMX2HB4IEQH5VRA7L7RYU Matty

    you have to be on a data plan for this to work right?

  • http://www.moneytalksnews.com/ Dan Schointuch

    Nope :). No data plan required. You set up Google Voice to forward phone calls to your phone number, so your cell company treats it as an incoming/outgoing call.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IUPRRDE6FEXQGHCVOIXMOIALH4 masonsmimi

    Just so everyone who is not on a plan and has a pre-paid phone…it does use your minutes..

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RRBOIQRDGZKHRI6FZ3RWJ2WYFI converted democrat

      pre paid or not it uses minutes unless you put in on friends and family …that was the whole point.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ON7CRR5JIPGMB2MKDJGBIW62NI Shanita T

    S can you use At&T or not because this is what At&T have on their website
    Question:
    Does A-List work with Call Forwarding?
    Answer:
    Forwarded calls that are terminated on a customer's mobile will be billed either based upon the originating call number or forwarded number depending on where the customer is located in the U.S., Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Excessive use of call forwarding with unlimited voice services is prohibited by AT&T. The customer plan terms state, “Unlimited Voice Services: Unlimited voice services are provided primarily for live dialogue between two individuals. If your use of unlimited voice services for conference calling or call forwarding exceeds 750 minutes per month, AT&T may, at its option, terminate your service or change your plan to one with no unlimited usage components.”

  • http://www.moneytalksnews.com/ Dan Schointuch

    Right. There's no technical reason why it wouldn't work, but it is something that “may be prohibited by your cell phone company”.

    In this case, I believe AT&T is specifically referring to a service they offer called Call Forwarding where you forward calls made to your cell number to another number. Working with Google Voice, you'll be doing the reverse, having calls made to another number forwarded to your cell (on outgoing calls, you'd call Google yourself and have Google do the forwarding) without setting anything up with AT&T. So it's not really clear whether using Google Voice in this manner is considered to be “use of call forwarding with unlimited voice services”. You may want to check with AT&T.

    Here's some info on AT&T's Call Forwarding service: http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/basics/choosi

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RRBOIQRDGZKHRI6FZ3RWJ2WYFI converted democrat

    From the comments this is an old article !But somehow I just saw it today. I got the phone app and it works great even better than I thought. For those magic jack people this is the same app but all on computer no jack needed. If you dont have a landline it will work as one. I like the cell phone feature but todays unlimited is 40 dollars anyway so no real savings there and I wonder if the number google gives is considered a landline number so the sprint network might not look as it as a free cell to cell call but then again I dont know . Still when you see vonage ads all the time and home phone packages this is pretty kool that its free. Yahoo still charges and Magic jack is 20 bucks a year but as this progresses I think that too will be expensive!! They get you with the internet on the phone but if you could get an ipad type device and combine it with 3g or 4g you might get around having to have a cell phone and get web access for 30 range for everything.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QBJZ3PCBRCMFD4T2VSLYSOEETI Reese29

    I just seen this article, will it still work on a phone with partial service?

  • http://www.facebook.com/marilyn.bentley2 Marilyn Bentley

    I like free, lol

  • Postal Exam

    Some of the most known carriers had already removed their “FAVES” feature, This option is no longer available, because of Google voice…

  • Postal Exam

    Some of the most known carriers had already removed their “FAVES” feature, This option is no longer available, because of Google voice…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PATPCY4KFK6IHCWZLB2DDCWXGA Jericho

    immagonna sign me up to prepaid service then…

    oh wait, will it work that way?