How Can I Make Cheap Calls on a Smartphone?
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Talking is on the way out.
Calling minutes are losing their value so fast that Verizon, for example, is just throwing unlimited minutes into its new plans — which take effect at the end of the month — and differentiating plans based on monthly data allotments (which in many cases will end up costing you more, by the way).
You may not need a huge chunk of minutes, but sometimes you do have to talk, whether it's calling the parents or having a serious discussion. Prospective employers do interview by phone, but probably not by SMS. [Talk Is Cheap, but Sometimes It's Worth More Than Text]
Also, you may just be one of those people who likes to gab.
What's the cheapest unlimited talk plan?
If you are a big talker, your best bet is to go with one of the no-contract wireless providers. Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile offer the best price: $55 for unlimited voice and text (plus unlimited data on Boost and 2.5GB per month on Virgin).
What if I'm a minimal talker?
Perhaps some months you scarcely make actual phone calls. But occasionally you will want to talk longer — say, if you are away from your significant other or your children, or if you have to make a bunch of business calls. Your best option is to skimp on calling minutes and take advantage of your data plan using an Internet calling service, sometimes called Voice over IP, or VoIP.
What are my VoIP options?
The two obvious choices are Google Voice and Skype (both available on iPhones and Android phones). Google Voice can't be beat for price: It's free in the U.S. and Canada, with cheap rates to most other countries. Calling a cellphone (generally expensive than a landline) is just two cents per minute to India or China, 10 cents to Germany and 15 cents to Brazil, for example
Skype is more expensive if you are calling a "real" phone (landline or mobile). It's $3 per month for the U.S. and Canada, and has, for example, per-minute rates to cellphones of 10.6 cents to India and 29.1 cents to Germany.
But Skype calls are free to anyone in the world if they are also using the Skype app — whether on a smartphone or on a computer — and that includes video calls. Given how many people already use Skype, it's a good app to have.
What are the cheapest data-plan choices?
Since you are using the data connection to call, you want as few old-fashioned phone minutes as possible.
If you want to get your phone subsidized (say, a $650 iPhone for $200), Sprint's $80-per-month two-year contract plan is probably best. It provides 450 calling minutes, with unlimited texting and data.
To really save, get a no-contract plan from Virgin or T-Mobile. You'll pay more for the phone, but save big-time over a year or two. [Buying Virgin Mobile iPhone Like Signing 8-Month Contract]
Virgin charges $35 per month for 450 minutes, unlimited texting and 2.5 GB of data. To go all-in for Internet calling, try T-Mobile's $30 per month plan. It has a meager 100 minutes of calling (think, emergency) but unlimited data and text.