The telecom service Google Voice has been giving now new accounts faster recently, as well as now letting some current users invite others. I already have an account from back when it was GrandCentral, but I just requested an invite from Google and got an invite within 3 days.* Since it appears they are ready to open things up, I thought it might a good time to explore ways that this service can enhance your calling experience and even save you some money.
Google Voice provides you a free phone number, designed to be your primary number, which you can then link up with your existing phone numbers – work, home, and mobile. This About Page provides a nice round-up of the features of Google Voice. Here are the ones I’ve found most useful:
- Ring All Phones. You can choose to ring all your phones when someone calls your GV number, and pick up any one of them.
- Call Screening / Routing / Blocking. If the number is unknown to you, then they have to announce themselves and then you can decide whether to take the call or send it to voicemail. The caller never knows if you actually got the call. You can route specific callers to specific phones, or just block them so you never have to take their call.
- Voicemail to Text. Voicemail messages are transcribed to text for free, and can also be sent to you via SMS text message. It’s not perfect, but you can usually get the gist of the message.
One major way that Google Voice can save you money is by reducing the number of “peak” cell phone minutes you use, so that you can either drop down to the cheapest plan or even go prepaid if you’d like.
Ring All. Since all your phones ring, you can pick up your work phone or landline if it is more convenient, when usually people would just call your cell phone by default. This could reduce your minute usage more than you think.
Never Use Up Any Cell Minutes Using Calling Circles. Also known as T-Mobile MyFaves, Verizon Friends & Family, Sprint Pick3, and AT&T’s A-List. Simply add your GV# to these calling circle programs, and every incoming call can now be free. You’ll need to set the caller ID to show your GV#, and not the originating caller’s ID. However, since there is the screening option where every caller has to state their name, you can still find out who’s calling before answering.
Calling out can be free as well, if a bit more hassle. You can also dial out for free by calling your GV# first, press 2, and then enter the number you wish to dial. If you have internet access it’s easier, just click on the contact on GV website.
Free Long Distance From Landline. If you really want a POTS landline, you can now switch to the cheapest local plan with no long distance. When you want to dial long distance, just call your GV# and have it dial out from there. (If you don’t have a GV# within your local calling area, you must dial out using the internet.) Calls are free to US and Canada.
Free Text Messages. You can send and receive text messages through GV for free. This can be a bit of a hassle, but perhaps you have unlimited data but hate the idea of paying another $10 a month for text messages. (I mean, how are text messages not included under data??) With a data plan, just use your phone web browser or specific GV app for your phone.
Other Possible Uses
Extra Business Number. Instead of using it as your central number, use GV as an alternative number for your business venture, superhero alter ego, or whatever.
For Minimalists / Nomads. Even if you don’t have a landline, VoIP, or even a constant cell-phone, you can now get a phone permanent number. You can access your voicemails online, and call back when you feel like it. Some users have dropped everything except for a prepaid cell phone plan costing less than $10 per month.
Got more tips? Share them in the comments. Want a Google Voice account? Request an invitation here.
(*This is pure speculation, but I used a non-yahoo/gmail/hotmail “paid” e-mail and think it might get a faster response due to the people abusing things by trying to re-sell invites on eBay.)
Find more in Frugal Living | 10/20/09, 5:20am | Trackback
- Scott Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 5:51 am
We use this for our charitable side business that has no storefront so we can have one number that rings all of our staff’s cell phones in order and goes to voicemail if no one picks up.
- dave Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 6:09 am
As always, great job showing us how to save a few bucks. I found a possible wrinkle for AT&T folks: in the terms for A-List, I see, “Directory assistance, 900 numbers, customer’s own wireless or Voice Mail access numbers, and machine to machine numbers are not eligible.”
AT&T may have already played defense. A-List is also only for ind. 900+ or family 1400+ plans, so we can’t play this game with the cheapest plan either.
But I’ve been using Google Voice for many months, and find it very useful in many ways beyond saving money. Thanks for the article.
- Brandon Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 6:25 am
Google Voice forwards all incoming text messages to my cell phone, costing me the price of half of all text messages (since it’s free to send). I tried but couldn’t delete that feature.
- ipot Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 7:19 am
Sprint has a plan where all calls to *any* mobile phone, any time of the day is free (included in the plan): see http://anymobileanytime.sprint.com/
- Adam Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 7:24 am
@Brandon, in the Google Voice settings, edit the “Phone” setting you have for your cellphone. You are able to set here if you want texts forwarded to the phone.
- BB Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 8:00 am
Google Voice now forwards text messages to your email account. You can also just respond to the text by replying to the email.
- plin Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 2:05 pm
The only thing that they lack right now is the ability to port numbers. I am willing to pay if they enable me to port the current phone number to their service.
- Finance Guru Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 5:00 pm
Thanks for the great idea. I just found your blog and look forward to reading more great posts from you.
- Michael Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 6:53 pm
Love this service. Have my mother using a number as long distance service to all her out of town friends. Also have a dedicated number for each of her children and siblings. Can’t say enough about this great service! Just excited to see how they plan to improve upon it!
- Maury Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 8:05 pm
Great International Rates as well as far as I can tell. Sure beats what my mobile provider was going to charge me.
- hador_nyc Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 8:18 pm
For me, I think the value is the ability to get calls at home or work and not using my cell phone minutes. I have VOIP via TWC in NYC, and like the feature of the “ring on your tv” that they offer. Since I spend most of my time at work or home, it would be nice to use those lines instead of my Sprint cell.
- Lily Says:
October 20th, 2009 at 8:37 pm
This would come in handy.
- Dee Says:
October 21st, 2009 at 6:49 am
Does anybody know if you can have more than one Google Voice number? Thanks.
- Adam Says:
October 21st, 2009 at 6:52 am
@Dee, No you can only have one number per gmail account.
- scott715 Says:
October 21st, 2009 at 7:54 am
This is new for me. I have not heard of GV
- Paul Says:
October 21st, 2009 at 9:47 am
I loved the service. The only shortcoming is the lack of MMS. I send and receive a lot of picture messages. This is the only reason I am nit switched to Google Voice completely.
- Dee Says:
October 21st, 2009 at 1:02 pm
@Adam, So multiple Gmail accts = multiple GV numbers?
- Paul Says:
October 21st, 2009 at 2:23 pm
@Dee: won’t work! You must have a unique physical number to use the service.
- Dee Says:
October 21st, 2009 at 4:13 pm
@Paul, Well, I have one landline # and one cellphone #. Would that work, or no?
- Paul Says:
October 21st, 2009 at 4:16 pm
@Dee, yes this will work! You van get two phone numbers!
- teeej Says:
October 21st, 2009 at 9:47 pm
I followed your link to request a GV account and got one in 2 days with my regular yahoo email account.
- Weekend Linkage: Investor Psychology, Financial Recovery and Google Voice — Automatic Finances Says:
October 24th, 2009 at 5:46 am
[...] Finally this week — though we rarely talk about technology outside of online banking and account aggregation, My Money Blog has a post on Ways to Save Money With Google Voice. [...]
- Bible Money Matters | Money Smart Life Says:
October 26th, 2009 at 6:50 am
[...] Ways To Save Money With Google Voice @ My Money Blog [...]
- Moreinfo Says:
October 28th, 2009 at 3:02 am
Can someone tell me how I would do this?
“”Free Text Messages. You can send and receive text messages through GV for free. This can be a bit of a hassle, but perhaps you have unlimited data but hate the idea of paying another $10 a month for text messages. (I mean, how are text messages not included under data??) With a data plan, just use your phone web browser or specific GV app for your phone”"
I have a GV account and I have ATT unlimited data and NO Texting included in my plan just as this says.. but not wure how I would set this up to use it? Maybe I just havent played around with the account enough?
- Jonathan Says:
October 28th, 2009 at 4:08 am
@Moreinfo – What phone do you have? For most, just go to google.com/voice on your mobile web browser and log in. You’ll end up at a mobile condensed version of the website, in which you can send and receive SMS text messages (and read voicemails, etc.)
- Moreinfo Says:
October 28th, 2009 at 4:13 am
I have a palm treo680. I will try to go there later today and try it out. I would log in and text through google voice? interesting… How would I get texts? give my google voice number to anyone who wants to text me? hmmm..
Thanks for your quick reply…
- Ron Says:
November 1st, 2009 at 3:08 pm
@Moreinfo – yes you can give your GV number to everyone for just text or use it for text and calls since GV can forward all calls to your treo. For getting the texts, have GV forward them to your treo email from the settings page.
- Moreinfo Says:
November 19th, 2009 at 4:58 pm
thanks Ron appreciate the help.
- CF Says:
November 20th, 2009 at 2:58 pm
Anyone know how to setup two google voice accounts on one phone, so you’ll essentially have two googel voice numbers?
- Hugo Says:
November 22nd, 2009 at 12:12 pm
I recently set-up my GV# to my also recently purchased Net10 phone#. I have had one person call me to my GV# but my phone does not ring (my Net10 # is already set-up in GV). I do get the text messages though, that are sent to my GV# to my Net10 phone (but get charged for reading the message). So I placed my hotmail account, but I am not getting the message sent to my Hotmail account even after doing the verification from GV to my Hotmail account (GV send an email to approve). Does anyone know if this does not work with Net10 phones (prepaid)?
- Hugo Says:
November 23rd, 2009 at 12:36 pm
I go the GV# to work with my Net10…I get both the calls and the texte messages now. Also, they are forwarded successfully to my Hotmail account. The bad thing is that I am still getting charged for answering and making calls from my Net10 prepaid phone via the GV#. Does anyone know how not to get charged on Net10 prepaid phones while using GV? Plz help
- Alexus Says:
November 23rd, 2009 at 4:37 pm
I am with T Mobile and I pay an additional $5.00 for text. I am not familiar with GV, but if it will help me save money I am all for it. If you can supply more information about GV and how to us it works I would appreciate it. Thanks in advance.
- rubin pham Says:
June 23rd, 2010 at 9:14 am
enroll with GV and you will find many money saving features there.
- Free SMS Asia Says:
July 21st, 2010 at 11:27 pm
a very nice and useful offer posted here as it saves too much of my money i am very happy thanks for the help now i make a google talk with my friends free .