How to get FREE long-distance calls through the internet

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A few months ago I found a way to get free long-distance calls through the internet. When I first started using it I wrote an initial review (MagicJack review) and after using it for a while I decided to write a follow up review.

The tool I have been using is called the Magicjack and I have now been using it as my primary land-line for the last 5-6 months or so. While it is not perfect, it can be an extremely cost effective solution. In my case I make quite a few long-distance calls each month and I don’t pay a dime for them.

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This isn’t a talk through your computer thing like Skype and all the others. I have used Skype and actually kind of like it, but in order to keep it free you have to be talking to another Skype user. That just isn’t always practical.

Rather, you just plug your regular phone into the Magicjack device, which then gets plugged into a USB port on your computer and viola, you are ready to make free calls anywhere in the US or Canada. Once signed up they give you a normal 10 digit phone number that you can receive calls with.

I should also mention that it isn’t 100% free. The device itself costs $20 and service cost $20 per YEAR or $1.66 per MONTH. If you make even a few long-distance calls, you know that this is so ridiculously cheap that you probably think it is too good to be true.

While I am still really excited about using Magicjack, I know that some people may not be able to put up with it’s quirks.

What I love about it

For my situation, I wanted a way to make free long distance calls from my land-line. Some of my calls last a long time and I didn’t want to have to get an extra 500 minutes in my cell phone plan. The Magicjack allows me to do just what I wanted. I can call anyone in the US or Canada as much as I want and never have to pay for it.

What is also cool (which I haven’t tried yet) is that you can make those calls to the US and Canada from anywhere in the world. So, I could be vacationing in Australia and call back to the US for free, just by plugging the device into a computer over there.

What could still be improved

The downside of making calls through the internet is that it seems that there are a lot of links in the chain that can break and cause problems. While I am generally happy with the device, I know that it is only because it meets my specific needs and I am sure that it wouldn’t meet everyone’s needs.

From using it over the last 5 months or so I have probably made hundreds of long-distance calls and I will say that the sound quality is just slightly lower than than the average cell phone. I don’t think the sound quality necessarily affects the conversation, but it isn’t quite as good as Skype.
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I also noticed that it isn’t a completely dependable system. While Magicjack has a voicemail system included with it, I stopped using it because it wasn’t notifying me of all my voicemails. I just turned it off and now use the answering machine one on my phone instead.

Because it is software based, the software can and has frozen up on my about 3-4 times. It isn’t a huge deal, I just restart the software and all is well – but an imperfection nonetheless.

My computer is almost always on or in sleep mode, so the device works fine, but if you are one who frequently turns off your computer, you may want to think about that before using this system. You can’t send or receive calls while your computer is off.

Who it doesn’t work for

As much as I wish it did, I don’t think the Magicjack is quite ready to be a land-line replacement. If you have a land-line that you currently use and depend on it heavily for receiving calls, I don’t think I would recommend Magicjack as a replacement. It still might be a good idea to have just to make outgoing calls, but just from some of the issues I had not receiving voicemails, I think there are still some kinks that need to be worked out.

Who it works for

When I was searching for a free way to get calls via the internet the Magicjack was the best thing I found. As mentioned it isn’t perfect, but in my case I estimate I save $40-$50 each month by getting all the long distance calls for free. So I would say if you are looking for a way to cut your long-distance bill, or decrease your cell phone usage, this might be something worth considering.

What about you – have you used Magicjack or found some other way to get free long distance calls?

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15 Comments
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  1. Thanks for sharing your own experience with us.

    My friend has also been using Magicjack for a few months as well and encouraged me to try it out.

    I also looked into Skype and see that for $2.95/month you can make unlimited US/Canada calls. To get a phone number you have to pay $30/year on top of the subscription, so 3x more expensive than Magicjack.

    Personally my cell phone has taken care of all my needs, and neither Magicjack or Skype would provide cost savings for me. So, I have yet to implement one of them, but envision doing so in the future. I have my PC on almost all the time I’m home, so either would work out well.

  2. What about the situation where you need to have a phone line for DSL? We have two options in our city for DSL: cable modem, via the cable company, or through the phone company, AT&T. Oh, there might be another option or two, but they still require AT&T. We don’t have cable, nor do we want it, for financial and “moral” concerns, so we’re left with the phone company. And that’s the only reason we have a landline, to have DSL and Internet access. We have prepaid cell phones, but don’t use them for long distance unless we are traveling.

    • Scott, not sure if it is the same where you are, but here in St. Louis, AT&T just recently allowed us to have DSL without a phone line… So before I was paying $25 a month for internet and $15 a month for a land line I never used. I called AT&T and cancelled the phone line (saving $15/month) and got faster internet (+$10/month) = faster internet and saving $5 a month…

  3. My brother sells electronics so we’ve had this item for almost 2 years now. I took one with me when I was on vacation in Jamaican and used it with no issues to call back to the US for FREE via the internet. That is where is has some potentially powerful implications but they can improve on the product.

    There are glitches and the quality all depends on your internet connection. I’m waiting for an updated product but the idea is really cost effective. My mom uses it exclusively for her long distance service and dropped the function on her other home phone.

    Now I can’t get my mom off the phone!

  4. how does this compare to ooma (ooma.com)? i think that contraption is supposed to be ~$200 up front but should be free long distance forever (no monthly or yearly fees) BUT it does require an internet connection.

    • Pochax, I haven’t heard of ooma, but I am interested to hear if anyone else compared the two…

  5. All I have to say is MediaRingTalk dot com. I make calls from the US to Canada for FREE. Nothing to buy, nothing to sell, no catch, no gimmick. I can hardly believe it. In Fact you can make calls to most countries in the world — FOR FREE! Check it out Bob. Tell me of your experience with it. It’s sometimes hard to get through on a weekend night. The quality is less than skype. Sometimes it gets a little choppy sounding. ….but what you pay for, it is worth the download. (It’s the only non-trail no gimmick freeware pc-to-landline service I am able to find) …happy calling!!!

  6. Magic Jack I have heard is good however Google Voice is all it takes. Mant people do not have access, but ask your friends. Usually Google will allow you to send out 3-5 invites and that is all. I had three invites and two of the people I invited got 5 more invites. It does not let you call direct from the web, but you input your desired destination including 50 states, canada etc and then you input the number where you are at. It will dial both.
    You are allowed to get a custom number when you register. Mine ends as N-E-R-I. I can screen calls from it, send and recieve SMS (I cancelled my SMS package on my cellphone). It even transcribes voicemail and fowards both SMS and Voicemail to your gmail. You can also customize where it should forward your calls depending on the time of the day or the day of the week. My calls go to voicemail during the week and to my cellphone or home during the weekend. It is an awesome service.
    I think I should also tell readers of my blog about it.

  7. RickardLee

    MagicJack is a thing of the past. They are new companies with great and free calling service such as http://www.callarc.com. These guys offer free international calling on mobile and internet to any destination. There is True phone but you must have a smart phone and it also cost money to call abroad. There is skype as well but you must be on the computer to make calls.

  8. Robbie Bender

    I have magic jack and the problem i had with it is that i would get phone calls from people saying “my phone showed i had a call from this number” and i didn’t call these people. What made THAT happen? So i quit using it. I got 3 of these calls within the first month i had it. I like Vonage.

  9. MediaRingTalk is now Sunno and costs something

    http://www.s-unno.com

    Sign up for Google Voice. You are crazy [well almost if you don't]. I signed up as a Canadian with a Western New York phone number and it is forwarded to my voip line in my home office. There is so much you can do as someone mentioned above with Google Voice.

    AND there are sites where they tell you how to combine Google voice to use your cell when away from home.

  10. Karole

    I was just reading in your post that you were able to turn off the Magic Jack voice mail feature. I have been using it for a little over a year and have not been able to figure out how to adjust it. I have my phones answering machine set to 2 rings because if I make it longer then Magic Jack takes over. I don’t really want to turn it completely off as I have used it on a number of occasions that I was on an important phone call and couldn’t switch for an incoming call, but I was still able to get the message later. Any help would be appreciated.

  11. I have tried magickjack before, it`s really good, it works perfect, the issue is that it goes along the internet conection and if your internet gets really slow you can barely hear the other people talking. What I could sugest is to try distance calling (www.distancecalling.com) is a website that provides free international long distance calls and you don`t hear that background noise that sometimes you do on magick jack. Magick Jack is great thoug but I think it only works for calls within US right? Im not sure but the thing is that it goes with your internet conection.

    • Kenneth Vela

      I think you are right about the internet connection of magick jack, I used to work with that in my previous job. I`ve also tried distance calling and it works really great for me, i get to call my relatives in Bolivia and USA, and make calls to japan to ask quotations for trucks and stuff, even though i had to register, it was worth it because i can call where ever i want.

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