Google Voice Can Save You Hundreds: Send Free Text Messages Online

Allison Kade

You used to need an invitation to sign up for Google Voice, Google’s attempt to conquer the world of phones, because the service was still in the testing phases. Last month, however, Google released Voice to the public, so now anyone can sign up. You’ll receive an additional phone number through Google, but you can forward all calls from that number to your cell or your home phone. So, you could simply give people your new Google number as your main line, and let the advanced online system manage the rest.

Here’s what we like about Google Voice:

  • Free, unlimited texts
  • Catalogues calls and texts so you can search them (like on Gmail)
  • You can send texts through your computer or your phone
  • Transcribes your voicemails for you
  • You can manage multiple phones through one phone number
  • You decide when you do and don’t want phone to ring (no calls on the weekend, etc.)
  • You differentiate coworkers from family and friends—make rules for which groups ring which phones.

Here’s what we don’t like about Google Voice:

  • Voicemail transcription is not entirely accurate
  • Google Voice app for smart phones can be glitchy
  • We’d like more options for rules around caller groups (if Mary calls past 5 pm, have it ring at home, but if Steve calls at that time send it straight to voicemail).

Although Google Voice is an imperfect system, here are the top ways we use it to save over $100:

1. Save On Text Messages

Instead of paying for unlimited text messages every month—or, worse, paying fees when we go over our text limit—we use Google Voice for most of our big text conversations. There are two ways to go about it: Either use Google Voice as your main phone number and do all your texting that way, or pay for the smallest text plan through your phone carrier (in case you get a text from random people who don’t know better) and tell your friends to text your Google Voice number instead.

2. Stop Using Up Minutes When You Place Calls

Call people from Google Voice: When you’re at your computer, hit the call button. First, your own phone will ring, and then you’ll be connected with the person you’re calling. Alternatively, you can use the Google Voice app for smartphones, which lets you call someone directly using the alternate Voice phone number. Since these calls are made over the internet, they generally don’t count toward your allotment of normal minutes.

3. Try A Special Trick To Save Minutes When Others Call You

This trick works only if you’re on a cell phone plan that allows you to choose a few frequently-used contact numbers for unlimited talk. If this applies to you, edit your Google Voice account settings—when you receive a call, you can choose to show the caller’s phone number or your own Google Voice phone number on the cell phone display. Choose to display your own Google Voice number. That’s where your phone will think the call is coming from. Then, add your Google Voice number to your special list of phone numbers. After that, you should be able to enjoy unlimited talk with anyone who calls you on Google Voice.

However you use Google Voice, it’s a useful tool for keeping track of your phone calls, voice messages, and texts. Enjoy!

  • Ryan

    Nice Post. The free unlimited texts are nice and you can save money with Google Voice but I do have concerns regarding privacy which I think should also be addressed. Google is a great technology company & they have done some wonderful things for the space but I am concerned about what they do with the data they accumulate. For instance, they do track your keyword searches (i.e. Eric Schmidt, I believe on an interview stated, “if you don't want Google to know about it – don't type it in the keyword search box). So what I'm getting at is, with Google Voice, Google will have access to all of your conversations and text messages. I realize that AT&T, VZ etc also do, but they cannot use that information as much as Google can. Just something to think about.

  • Minda

    I love Google voice, and I use it for unified communications. That is, I have calls to my Google Voice number ring both my land line and cell which saves me missing calls (and I love getting messages and text in emails–the voice recognition is actually the best there is, imperfect though it may sem. However, I find there's no way to prevent texts to GV also being forwarded to my cell, so no savings at least on incoming texts.

    • Guest

      Open the google voice app on your phone. Settings> Sync and Notifications> uncheck “notifications via text message”

  • Jean

    How does billing work – it is all free? What is Google gaining out of providing this service for free?

  • Curnis Upkins III

    Nice post, but point number 2 is incorrect. Google Voice only works as a call connector and not as VOIP. Even though your GV number appears on the receiver's end, it is still using the minutes on your calling plan. One cool thing about GV though, is that if you use the Chrome browser, you can install the GV extension and get notifications in the browser when a text comes through. You can also click phone numbers in the browser with this extension to place a call.

  • Soulweaponry

    This is pretty funny. Because if you text your wife your grocery list, it should be considered a matter of national security right? What about your phone company? Do you know if THEY keep your stuff private and/or share with intelligence agencies such as the cia?

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