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Ask the readers: Long distance plans?

We had a busy and eventful last few days and I’m taking half a day off from blogging to take care of some things on the home front here. I’ll back this afternoon to share some more great deals. In the mean time, would anyone like to share some input on Amy’s question?

I wondered if you’ve got any good tips/advice/comparisons on long distance calling
plans. Currently, we have unlimited long distance with our home phone
but are considering canceling all of that. Have you researched
whether it’s cheaper to have a cell phone only and use it for
everything, have a calling card and keep a land line with no long
distance, or have you discovered something else? – Amy

What does your family do for long distance calls? What have you found to be the least expensive option? What works best for your family? Tell us in the comments section.

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112 Comments

  • Eden C. says:

    We do an internet phone that costs $8 per month unlimited (plus a couple more fees that total up to about $11-$12.) It’s http://www.viatalk.com You have to have an internet connection, but that is all! They send you the works by mail. We have found it to be a great deal! Hope that helps at all…

  • Jessica says:

    My family has T Mobile cell phone service and we are looking into a new program where you can get phone service from your home for $10 a month. (Right now, we pay over $65 for an unlimited long distance plan.) I think you have to already have that cell service and you may need special phones, but it seems like a great deal for us. Also, I believe that it won’t use minutes if you begin the call from home and then leave the house, so you can lower your cell minutes as well.

  • We use Vonage and have been very happy with it. For $24.99 we get all the bells and whistles–everything from Caller ID to call forwarding. Unlimited long distance is also included. They also have a great feature where if you travel, you can dial an access number and call home for free! My husband is on a mission trip overseas and we are using that feature right now to stay in touch.

  • Tiffany says:

    I found that, for me, a cell phone is the way to go. Most of my phone calls are long distance because most of my friends and family live out of state.

    I have heard that Cricket has unlimited long distance and it’s less than $30/month. It’s hard to beat. However, coverage is sparce, so you have to make sure that you have coverage in most of the areas you live in.

  • Nancy says:

    We have VOIP thru Viatalk. We pay less than $200/year, have all the bells and whistles including free long distance. 🙂

  • Maria says:

    We have Vonage for US,Canada and UK landline calls.We have a calling card for calling elsewhere.

  • Ana says:

    Try Vonage(as long as you have a fast internet connection). It has unlimited long distance and its cheep. 24.95 plus tax. I have had it for 3 years now and its great.

  • Paula says:

    Funny I just read your posting and in a couple of weeks have decided to do just that. T-mobile has a family plan that looks really good plus with a teenager in the house I got the 19.95 unlimited texting bundle added to it. We have a home phone and two track phones and by the time you add up the top up minutes and the regular phone bill it just about comes out the same. Hope this helps.

  • Mary T says:

    We use Vonage. Our family is spread across the country. Hubby & I have a cell that work chips in for and we can talk to each other for free. We try not to use our cells for much else. Vonage has been great. We pay about $25 a month and get all the features we need such as callwaiting, caller id, and no extra charges for long distance or anything. Very rarely we’ve had bad connections but I’m not sure if that is Vonage related as many of our calls across country are to folks with cells so could be their end. Also of course if our internet is down so is the Vonage–but that’s usuallly very temporary in a bad storm and we have cells still if there’s an emergency.

  • Karen says:

    We use a T-Mobile Faves family plan. My husband and I have nationwide long-distance and 1000 minutes to share. Plus we each get 5 numbers with unlimited calling. We thought 1000 minutes wouldn’t be enough, but we were amazed at how many of our minutes we use on the 5 Faves…we never come close to the 1000. It’s only 59.99/month.

  • Erin says:

    For family phone calls we use the internet. Our newest laptop has a camera built in (but I know cameras can be purchased fairly cheap) and we use it for free video calls with out of state relatives. We use a site directly through Mac, but I know there are other free sites out there as well (we have also tried Oovo). I know this isn’t practical for everyone, and you have to have a high speed connection, but as we already have a camera and pay for internet, it is 100% free!

    Oh, and the grandparents just love getting to see our baby live!!

  • jw says:

    We use voice over IP with unlimited long distance its like 25 a month. My wife and I both have cell phones I dropped mine to prepaid with 100 on it back in october I still have to kill hers to prepaid too as she barely uses it.

    aside from breaking down on the side of the road why do you really need a cell phone? For business then let the business pay it otherwise I really think there great for an emergency but not worth paying for for any other reason.

  • Letty says:

    We have only basic service on our land line phone – so no long distance of any sort on it. We just use our cell phones for long distance calls. I have a frugal friend who dropped her land line altogether to save money but is now having trouble not going over her minutes when making calls where you are placed on hold. She has said she didn’t realize how many calls she would make during the day for little things that can really add up on your cell phone bill. (Like making doctor appts, calling around for the best repairman rate, etc). We also have a prepaid calling card for long distance but rarely use it with having the cells phones.

  • Kimberly says:

    We do not have long distance. We use our cell phone for that. We currently have the Verizon plan and lucky for us, our entire family (who are ALL out of town) has Verizon as well. When you call anyone in the Verizon network it is free. So when we call relatives who are out of town, we call their cell and it is free for both of us! We have a land-line for local calls to friends, stores, work, etc.

  • elizabeth says:

    Hi, I am not sure if this is the “cheapest,” but it was a big step down for us. We got rid of our bells and whistles plan with caller id, etc, and got just the basic plan. We need to have a land line b/c we have an alarm system. We also have cells which we use to call each other because those calls are free. Also we can make free long distance on them after 9. We buy a phone card for international calls (MIL lives in South America)or long distance calls that need to be made before 9. The phone cards are on sale BOGO at Walgreens this week (2/$20. We use the cards pretty rarely and we always buy on sale so we have them on hand. I am sure there are cheaper ways, but this saves us about $70/month from doing it all with the phone company.

  • Georgia says:

    We use Skype for long distance calls, as well as our cell phones.

  • Melissa says:

    I gave up a landline phone and went to strictly cell phone years ago! For me, it was the cheapest option. I have a cell phone that has a great plan, with plenty of minutes, and my unlimited minutes start at 7PM (which is honestly around the time I would be doing any major calling). I had a land line phone and realized it was only being used to connect the computer (back in dial up days). Neither myself nor my room mate ever used it. Heck I couldn’t even rememeber the phone number half the time. Once we bought a new computer and upgraded to cable internet with a promotional package, we cancelled our phone line. For us, it was just an unnessary expense. At the time, we were spending around $30 a month for the phone (that was the cheapest, most basic line available) and added to that the cost of our ISP ($25 a month) – When we switched to cable internet, our cable internet only cost us $30 a month, so by dropping the landline, we started saving $25 a month (obviously if we would have used the long distance feature, it would have been more) I knew that I wasn’t going to trade my cell phone in to keep a home phone, it’s just more practical. And these days, cellular minutes are becoming cheaper and cheaper, even on family plans. For me, it was a simple choice, once I no longer needed a landline phone for internet connection, it seemed silly to have an extra bill for a service I never used. And I couldn’t see the benefit of adding one of the “unlimited long distance plans” to a home phone, because I already have free long distance on my cell phone, so even at the cheapest price out there for long distance, be it in an unlimited bundle or a penny a minute, anything I spent would have been a waste.

  • Kimberly says:

    We have had Vonage for almost 3 years. We had no troubles with it at all, other than the terrible installation process. We chose the $14.95 plan that has unlimited incoming calls but only 500 outgoing calls. With taxes, it is less than $20 a month which I think is very reasonable. I recently signed up for a 30 day trial with http://www.magicjack.com. I received my jack in the mail and installation was an absolute breeze. It literally took less than 5 minutes and I was talking on my new phone line. I plan to keep Vonage for an additional month or two to make sure that I really like Magic Jack. MJ is only $19.99 a YEAR, verse Vonage which is about that price per MONTH. HUGE savings!!!! I would never do just cell phones because I don’t want to be able to be reached all the time by just anyone.

  • Dawn says:

    My husband and I debated going to just cell phones, but in our area the coverage is not that great so my brother who is a minister told us about ACN. It is a christian organization that is a phone company. For the last 3 years we have not paid more than $12 a month on our long distance and we have people in Hawaii, FL, NC, AL and GA. We love it so our total phone bill is about $47 a month. We had to use the local carrier but using ACN has allowed us to have Alltel as local and ACN as our long distance. This was just a thought to maybe help people out.
    Their website is http://www.myacn.com Hope this helps others.

  • Michelle says:

    My husband and i both have a cell phone and no house phone. AT & T is our cell phone providor and offers free night calling and weekend calling, that is usually when we call long distance. My husband is being sent to Korea in January so we may have to upgrade to international calling however,there are a lot of orginizations that give out phone cards to families.

  • HeidiV says:

    We don’t use our home phone AT ALL for long distance services. We only use our home phone for local calls. Because we have a young son we keep our house phone for emergencies etc. Our home phone is tied to our cable and internet as well. Having all three of those bundled is saving us quite a bit of money.

  • Cherilyn says:

    We have a basic home phone service but dial 10-10-297 before we make the call to reduce the charge to a .39 connection fee plus .03/minute.

  • Tara says:

    We have not had long distance service in about 8 years. We always used calling cards that were about 3 1/2 cents per minute.

    We came across onesuite.com about four years ago and LOVE it. You sign up and buy minutes on line and each call is 2.9 cents per minute. We use an 800# and then enter the # we are calling. In many larger cities (we are a small city of about 60,000) its cheaper because they have local #s to call instead of the 800#. There is no fee to sign up (I assume this is still the same) and you just add minutes when you need them with a credit card or through your bank account on paypal.

    We like it because there is no PIN to enter unless you are not at your house. We usually budget $5 per month to this which gives us about 175 mintues and that is perfect for us. That may seem like a lot, but if we call our friends 25 miles away it is long distance from where we live.

    About the same time we switched my cell phone to emergerncy only and pay 15 cents per minute when I call. There is no fee per month as long as I make one call every 30 days. I make about 2 calls a month so I am saving a ton each month. I found we just don’t need that extra $40 a month cell phone bill and I can focus on driving and talking to my girls when I’m in the car instead of being on the phone.

    Total for both long distance and cell phone comes to about $5.50 each month.

  • Erin says:

    We canceled our long distance on our land-line a few months ago. We (DH and I) both have cell phones on a family plan with included domestic long distance and unlimited calling on the weekends.

    We mostly talk with our extended family (the long-distance ones) on the weekends anyway, so we just use the cell phones for that. We also have enough weekday minutes for a few mid-week long-distance calls.

    One of my credit cards comes with a bonus of 30 free domestic long distance minutes per month (calling card feature) so we would use that if we needed to make a long-distance call and cell service was jammed up.

  • Iva says:

    We have a bundle package where we pay $70/mo for unlimited phone service (basic and long distance), caller ID and call waiting. If we didn’t have the highest high speed internet (man beast’s choice), we would probably cut down to basic phone service and use our prepaid cell phones for long distance. I have Alltel where I pay .75/day for two features. I chose mobile to mobile and free nights and weekends. Since the man beast is the only person I call on my cell phone, I spend just under $24 for my cellular phone service.

  • We use OneSuite:

    http://www.onesuite.com/

    You buy a minimum of $10, and it lasts for 6 months. Any unused minutes rollover. It’s less than 3 cents/minute for U.S. calls, and international calls are not generally too expensive. (Varies by country, of course.)

    I hardly make any l.d. calls, so I just buy the $10 every 6 months. Plus, you can use it just like a calling card anywhere you go, just keep the phone number and your access number with you.

    You can also set it up to automatically enter your access number on a regularly used phone, and create a “speed dial” for numbers you use often.

  • Raj says:

    Maybe Amy should consider a voice over IP (internet phone) company. We’ve been using vonage for several years now without issue. They’ve got a 500 minute plan for $15/mo and an unlimited plan for $25/mo. More often than not, they can keep their phone number. Also, it works just like a home phone (you just plug your phone into the box they send you, no computer needed), so the learning curve is low.

  • Tara says:

    One other thing. I remember someone (our pediatrician maybe?) telling me that if you have young children it is a good idea to keep your land line and not go with cell phones only. Their reasoning was that your kids need a set phone to go to in case they need to call 911 in an emergency. My cell phone is never in the same place and is usually in my purse or car. This makes sense to me and we talk to our girls about what phone to go to in an emergency.

  • Issac'sWife says:

    jajah.com

  • Have you considered using Skype? Skype allows you to talk for free over the internet. Many computers come with a built in microphone/camera. Ours did not, so we invested in an inexpensive web cam and we talk for free to all of our family, plus it is fun to be able to actually see our family members when we talk to them. I even have a sister who lives internationally and we talk for free. http://www.skype.com

  • Kristin says:

    We just went through making this same decision. All of our family is back in Missouri and we are now in Arizona!

    I think the cheapest option is Skype chat. You have to have an internet connection and phone line but you can do the basic on that end and get unlimited calls all over the country (and to some other countries). They also have video chat which is pretty cool too!

    If you’re not in to that the cheapest option is to go with unlimited LD on your landline phone. Cell service is much more expensive. You’d be looking at $100 a month for that where the same plan on your home phoen could be around $50-$75

    That’s what I’ve found anyway! Good luck!

  • niki says:

    We’ve struggled with this over the past few years too.

    Verizon is the local carrier for landlines here and the price was a budget-buster. We cancelled it and tried Vonage (thru the interent) and Comcast Digital Voice (thought the cable) and found that although they were much cheaper and gave us unlimited calling the service on both were both here. Calls were dropped frequently. The connection was often crackly, at best.

    We decided this month to drop a landline altogether and exclusively use our cell phones. We have a contract for our cells through AT&T which allows for rollover minutes. Many of our friends and family also use AT&T so it doesn’t cost us any minutes to talk with the people we frequently chat with on the phone. This leaves us with tons of rollover minutes which add up month after month to allow us to talk to anyone else.

    🙂

  • Trina says:

    When we bought our house nearly five years ago, we decided to try just having our cell phones as our main lines and to not get a house phone. We never missed the house phone and it has saved us a ton. We have internet through our cable lines. My husband travels on occasions internationally for work. On his earlier trips we primarily used the cell phones, and it did up our bill but not too horribly. On his last trip to China, we discovered that you can talk through AIM (on the computer) for free. It was really cool once we figured out how to do it.

  • Marli says:

    We only use our cell phones. We were not going to have our landline but because we have DSL, we have to have it. We got the cheapest most basic landline and it actually comes with 30 minutes long distance free each month. We still never use it. No one has our home number and I don’t even have it plugged in right now because when it rings no one is there or it is people asking for someone else. It is there for emergencies should we ever need it though.

    Our minutes on our cell phone roll over and we NEVER use all of our minutes on the CHEAPEST plan (so I wish there was a plan available with less minutes and would cost less each month) BUT anyway, my husband and I mostly call each other which is free anyway. So we have a ton of minutes that keep rolling over; we never have to worry about going over our minutes!

  • Melynda says:

    I second MagicJack (www.magicjack.com).
    My sister has it and absolutely loves it. It is very, very cheap and since we just moved we are going to get it ourselves very soon.

  • Christina says:

    SKYPE!
    My sister is moving to Honduras and we’ll continue talking for free, unlimited minutes. With video!

    Christina

  • Angela says:

    The first comment mentions needing cell service for viatalk and that is not the case. I’d recommend VoIP service for anyone that has high speed internet. That means voice over internet protocol. Its fantastic and you get way more features than through a traditional phone line. I’ve seen it down to $10 a month for a fully featured voip line where most phone companies are $30. Nearly all include unlimited free long distance.

    My parents have had vonage for a few years, the complex we used to manage had packet8, then later viatalk, and now we have suddenlink (our cable company). Yes I could save $8 a month if I went to a different voip provider but then I’d need a voip box and a new modem since I get mine free with the viop service, and its once less bill. So it all averages out in my case.

    We have a cell phone as well but hardly use it now that we’ve got unlimited long distance at home. I’d recommend Voip phone service for anyone.

    Oh and most will just call it internet phone service. And lastly, until you find something you want just use skype for your long distance calls. Its about the price or less of cheap phone cards (or $20 a year for unlimited service) and works with your existing speakers and mic.

  • carrie says:

    we have been with bellsouth for a while. we have local and unlimited long distance plus dsl extreme 6.0 for internet and the 2 call feature plan all for under a 100 dollars a month.its bundle plan.

  • Robin says:

    We don’t talk on the phone a lot. Before cell-phones, we found it was MUCH cheaper to cancel all LD service and just use a dialaround # (like 10-10-220) since it was just 10cents a minute and no monthly charge, that reduced our cost to under $5 a year for LD.

    Now we do have cellphones, we pay 100 a month but that is for 4 lines and enough minutes we don’t go over. So we use them for LD as it’s “free” since we are already paying for the phones.

    To figure it out for your own situation, just take the monthly amt you are paying for LD and divide it by the approx. # of minutes you use a month. Usually the unlimited plans are a rip-off, but if you need to use a LOT of long distance YMMV.

  • Shayleen says:

    We have the cheapest landline that our phone company offers. Unlimited in-coming calls (no caller id, call waiting, etc) and then it’s $.10 per minute if we use it for out going…which we don’t. Then most all of our family members are on verizon cell phones. So we can call them all for free and use our cell plan minutes for calling others that don’t have verizon. it works for us. We kept our land line because we have dsl internet and in case our kids need to call 911, the operators can tell where we are calling from.

  • Kelly says:

    I also vote for Majic Jack.

    There have been a few hickups, and it’s not perfect. But, for $20 a YEAR, I’ll deal with the hickups.

  • delilah says:

    We use Comcast. We have unlimited long distance, caller id, and all the possible phone features, high speed internet, a fax line, cable(over 180 channels that we do not watch, plus on demand), and it is $120 a month. I like everything on one bill it makes it much easier. We used to have a big cell phone bill, but now that my husband has a company phone, we have a very low plan because I do not need all those minutes when I am home all day.

  • Erica M says:

    We use cell phones. We have a plan with plenty minutes, plus because it’s Sprint we can talk mobile-to-mobile without using our minutes. Most of our family has Sprint, so this works nicely!

    We have kept a flat line at the house, just for emergencies and inbound calls from friends who don’t have Sprint. We can not make long-distance calls from that line.

  • Beth says:

    We are in a similar situation. We have had sprint for YEARS (like 12). We have Bellsouth at home. The only problem is that our Bellsouth line is tied to our internet (DSL). We only pay $24.99/mo for high speed dsl. Any suggestions if we wanted to leave Bellsouth? I need suggestions for internet service (we want DSL) and don’t want to pay more than $30/mo.

  • Kelly says:

    We use our cell phones for long distance. We just have local on our home phone line. Most cell phone providers have free long distance! (unless of course it isn’t during your unlimited hours)

  • Christy says:

    My husband has his own VoIP company that he’s building, so if anyone would like to help out a Christian homeschooling family please check out our website. This momma sure would appreciate it!

    We’re just like Vonage, only more personal! If you have high-speed internet then you can use our service. It’s only $25 a month and you get all the extras (caller ID, call waiting, music on hold, etc.) for free, plus free long-distance to anywhere in the US and Canada.

    Check out our website (it’s still under just a bit of construction). http://www.intellichoicevoip.com

    Thanks!

  • We only have cell phones, but my DH and I are not big “phone people.” All of our family has the same network we do, though, so those calls don’t count. We only have 400 minutes/month and never use them all. There are occasions though when I’ve been frustrated at not having a home phone (my DH’s phone was going beserk when I had a serious car accident and was not able to reach him).

    We actually had to call Verizon and request/beg to be left on the 400 minutes/month plan because they no longer offer it. But they did concede! Don’t pay for minutes you’re not going to use!!

  • Robin says:

    My family uses Skype. To use it free though it is only works if the person you are wanting to call has it too. Plus, they need to be signed into Skype in order to call them. We upgraded on Skype where you can call any phone line for only $15 for 3 months! That is only $5/mo and you can call anywhere in the US or Canada, plus some other places.

  • katy says:

    We have had cell phones only for 8 years and have to tell you that I love it. We have never had a problem with coverage, using them during emergencies and those issues that people scare you with if you don’t have a land line. My husband has a cell phone for work, so we have kept his “personal” cell phone and use it as our “house phone” This solved the issue of having a phone in the same place always with 911 pre-programed in it for our kids to use in an emergency (we taught them what to do and how to use the “blue” phone). We have Sprint and have multiple lines on it (ours & my mother-in-laws) and we get a discount. For 3 phones with shared 500 anytime minutes, unlimited sprint to sprint calls and unlimited weekend & after 7pm minutes we pay $60/month.

  • julie says:

    May I add my two cents about onesuite.com for long distance! It’s great!!!

    We use T-mobile pay as you go. That has saved us tons of money!!!

  • Arlecchina says:

    We have high speed Internet, so we use Vonage for everything. It routes through your Internet connection, but it’s more reliable than online providers like Skype, and we can use our regular phone. I think we pay $28/month for the service, which includes unlimited long distance. That’s a great value for us because our families and friends are on the other end of the country right now.

  • Sherri says:

    It all really depends on how much long distance calling you make in an average month. We don’t make that many calls (almost all of the people we are calling have a cell phone with free night/weekends), so we just use a Sprint calling card purchased at CVS when they are on sale b1g1f. Those two 600-minutes cards will last us the better part of a year for only $30.

    So, to really evaluate what is the best deal, you have to know your own calling patterns.

    Would free night/weekends be sufficient for your needs? Our friends live in TX, but call family in VA, so waiting until after 9PM their time is not workable. But the other way around would be just fine.

    Maybe you make LOTS of calls any time of day. Then some kind of unlimited plan is probably best for you. Your current phone bill may tell you how many minutes you used- that would be a good place to start.

  • Ann says:

    Our family has taken out Landline. We have ONE cell for the family (since hubby is at work, he can be reached by the work phone). We joined a famliy plan with my brother-in-law, so we have 1000 min combined between 3 cells, long distance included. With free weekends and nights, we haven’t used that many mins. We only pay about $33. And since TM to TM is free, we hardly use the minutes between families.

  • ModestforHim says:

    Could someone explain to me how viatalk and Skype work? Can I use a cordless phone with these services? Do they offer cell phones too?

  • Allie says:

    we use USA DATANET. http://mydatanet.com/

    10 cents a minute for the first 9 minutes, after that it goes to 99 cents, no matter how long the call…that’s for the regional long distance…if you go for braoder long distance, the max you pay for a call is $1.99. We have to dial an access number first and then the area code and phone number. There are probably cheaper plans out there now, but we like this one and have never had a problem with it. We use it just enough…we don’t make a lot of long distance calls so we couldn’t justify buying a package deal through our local phone company-but when we do make calls, they are usually for long talks.

    I also get money off now and then if someone I know signs up and uses my name as a referral…I’ve earned quite a bit of $$ off that way.

  • nicole says:

    my family uses cell phones exclusively. this works well for us as many of our long distance friends and family use the same carrier we do (verizon), and my husband’s company picks up the bulk of our bill. we would have cell phones anyway, so $10 more a month for a better plan beats what we were paying fo a land line by a long shot.

  • Heidi says:

    Vonage has a $14.99 a month plan.

  • Brooke says:

    I don’t have a home phone, just a cell phone. so for $45 a month I get unlimited calling to my family (parents, sister, and bil have service with the same company) and get more than enough minutes.

    Mr. Right doesn’t have a home phone either, just cell coverage. The only way I foresee us getting a home phone when we’re married is if we have to at our new location for internet.

  • catrina says:

    We also have the Tmobile cell service, (we have for years) as soon as they came out with the Tmobile@home we jumped on it! its 10.00 a month for everything, we even get wireless internet, caller id, voicemail all that! its a great plan since we have tons of family all over the US! and the best thing is that it doesnt take away from our original 700 min family plan! its the greatest thing!

  • Michelle says:

    Vonage is the best deal out there for local and long-distance calling.

  • Amy says:

    I’m the one who sent Crystal this question so I very much appreciate all of your answers. I’ve got some research to do! Vonage is not available in my area but I’ll check into the others mentioned. Thanks for posting the question, Crystal!

  • Urvashi says:

    We use MajicJack. Its internet phone and costs $40 for the first year and $20 for subsequent years. We are really satisfied with the service.

  • Nelly Feldi says:

    We buy a 99 minute phone card from the 99 cents only store. That enables us to pay 1 cent per minute.

  • Kirsten says:

    We found we are saving a lot of money by doing two things. First of all, we got a good pre-paid cell phone service. We rarely used up our minutes previously, so it is working out well for us. If you buy $100 worth of minutes at a time with T-mobile, it’s only 10c per minute with no other charges, and the minutes don’t expire for a year.

    We also got Skype in/out, which for maybe about $75 per year comes with a regular phone number and unlimited calling anywhere in the US (the free version of skype is only computer to computer). This is great for chatting at home and for making those tedious calls where you get put on hold for long periods of time. We did buy a skype handset for $50 or so to use with this service, but we are still definitely saving money over a regular land line.

    The only thing to be aware of with the Skype in/out service is that you can’t make emergency calls on it (no 911 service). We figure we have our cell phones for that and we also keep one of our previous cell phones that no longer has a calling plan plugged in at all times next to our skype phone. Old cell phones can always call 911 even if they don’t have any calling plan on them. We let babysitters and others who may stay at our house without us to either use their own cell phone or that “old” cell phone if they ever have a 911 emergency.

  • Kristine says:

    I have to say that we have used BigRedWire.com for ours – super duper cheap, and we use our cells for 98% of our long distance (free) so we’re paying less than $5 a month for our home phone. VoIP sounds nice, but I worry about the one time you might desperately need the phone, cell battery could be dead, and for some reason the internet would be down… which would mean no phone since the VoIP uses the internet line. I know the chances of that are SO slim, but not worth it in our book.

  • Beth says:

    Calling cards!!! They rarely expire and don’t have hidden fees. Our old long distance company only had “minimum” plans meaning I had to spend a certain dollar minimum every month or I would be charged regardless. In 2006, I bought a $20 domestic calling card and it lasted ALL YEAR!

  • Kacy says:

    As others have mentioned, we tried the no-land-line-thing for awhile and started to go over our cell phone minutes.
    So, we got the cheapest package we could find for a land line (which unfortunately is $28/month after all the “taxes & fees”). To me, it’s worth it to have the security of a land line. It doesn’t stop working when the power goes out (like the digital phones do, I think) and 911 services can trace our land line immediately, which is great.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

  • Tracy says:

    Magicjack.com. Haven’t tried it personally.

  • If you’ve got internet, then Skype is a good one. You can get one of those skype phone ( ours cost us 75$) and use skype out to make all kind of calls. It will cost you nothing for your calls in US, other than the monthly subscription fee of $3.

  • Trinity says:

    Rght now we have AT&T/Bellsouth and pay $43.62 for both local and unlimited long distance.

    WE used to have Comcast and had numerous problems with the phone going out all the time. We also had Vonage and had the same problem.

    I am considering changing our internet over to AT&T though and seeing if it takes car of the issues of constant outages. I might also consider the magicjack as many have said that it works well. If I could save almost $45/mth that would be huge!!

  • Emma says:

    Here’s another recommendation for Onesuite.com, I’ve used it for more than 6 years and just subscribe to basic local landline phone service.

    At 2.9 cents a minute for long distance calls in the US (or 2.5 cents a minute if you live in a more heavily populated area and can dial a local access number vs. the 1-800 number) — Onesuite is the best deal I’ve ever found.

    Onesuite’s international rates are pretty good too…I’ve found that it’s cheaper to call my relatives in England than it is to call my folks here in the states!

    There is one drawback to Onesuite which is the caller ID you’re assigned when you call someone. Usually it labels you as a business or a location that is several hundred miles away. Once in a while friends haven’t picked up the phone because they didn’t realize who was calling them. But this has only happened to me a handful of times these past 6 + years.

    As far as a cell phone, we have one–it’s a tracphone and I only use it when I am out and about. It’s a pay as you go cellphone, and you only have to recharge it once a year to keep it active. On average it costs me about $99.99 for a one year card and I never use up the 500-800 minutes you get during that year, and the leftover minutes just roll into the next year.

    These two changes to our phone service have saved us thousands of dollars already, and we call our family and friends a lot since we live far apart from most of them.

  • Becky says:

    Like Erica, my big hang up is finding a new internet provider so I can make the switch to Vonage or a similar company. We have high speed DSL for $15/month tied to our phone service. If I drop the phone service, I lose my cheap internet. We don’t have cable, so we can’t combine an internet plan that way. Are there any good deals on high speed internet that anyone wants to recommend?

  • Heather says:

    We have a great deal with the cable company. For $118 (including taxes) we get digital cable with HBO and DVR, wireless internet and unlimited phone service to anywhere in the US. It is nice being able to call relatives when we want. It is kind of pricey, but we use the DVR a lot. HBO is free or we would not have it. I think its a pretty good deal because cable alone would be $65 a month plus taxes.

  • jaymee says:

    I use grandcentral.com – it gives you one phone number that rings all the phones you link to it.

    That’s pretty cool, but there’s more…you add all your people to your GC address book, then you click “Call” to call someone. It lets you choose which phone to call from (like my home phone, or cell phone), and then it calls your phone, and when you pick up it connects you to the person you want to call. No more long distance fees!

    Even more…my inlaws are NOT computer people, so I signed them up with a GC number that is in OUR area code! Since we call them all the time, it is a local call to dial from our phone without computer.

    Then it also has neat features like blocking marketing calls, listening in on voicemail, etc. I have been really happy with it.

    Now it is totally free, but as of right this minute, you cannot just sign up for a number. They will make you reserve one. Not too long ago, they had open signups, so they may just be aquiring more phone numbers. It is worth a shot, though.

    I’m also a big fan of Skype, but GrandCentral does not require a computer on the other end of the line. That works better for our non-techie relatives.

  • Elizabeth Rehn says:

    We use Joi Phone. We pay 220.00 a year and we love it. Since my husband works from home alot we have to have a fax machine and everything. This is one of the few VOIP programs I found that works with a fax machine. I have neverhad a problem and we have caller ID and all the other features, voice mail, call waiting and so on.

  • Jennifer says:

    We kept our landline because my business toll-free number rings to it. We share a friends and family plan between myself, my husband, my mom, my dad, and my grandparents. It’s a great way to get inexpensive long distance. With Altell, you get to call certain people for free if you have them registered, so we don’t use many minutes that aren’t included. That leaves everyone some long distance usage, and we don’t go over!

  • Jessica says:

    We don’t have long distance or cell phones. We have a regular land line for local calls and we use a prepaid calling card for long distance that we refill when we need to (probably works out to about $10/month or less). That’s been working well for us!

    We went through a stint where we did free video calls through yahoo messenger on the computer with cheap cameras. It worked well except we found we would have to call the grandparents to tell them to go to the computer! 🙂

  • Lisa says:

    We’re on the vonage $24.99 plan, and we love it! No surprise charges and great service. We used to just use our cell phones and not have a landline, but we found that we save more money by having a very basic cell phone plan (so we use it more like a cell phone now…only when there’s no other option) and this vonage plan. It’s great!

  • It really depends on how much time you spend on the phone long distance. I had many years where I didn’t have LD on my phone and bought cards at the store with X number of minutes (30 I believe) on them and used those for LD calls. They could easily last me 90 days.

    In that case, calling cards were the cheapest. If you make a LOT of LD calls, then either an unlimited LD plan or a cellphone with free minutes after X at night might be what is best for you. But you have to evaluate your use.

  • Lisa says:

    I live in Florida and we have Cox Cable. I get the bundle plan which is phone (includes unlimited long distance), dsl internet and cable t.v. for really cheap! We couldn’t go cheaper even if we got dial up, basic cable and regular phone separately. If you don’t have Cox Cable perhaps the local cable service has something similar.

  • Cariann Spirydovich says:

    If you have young children or are planning to have some, you should at least consider the risks of cell phone use. My husband is a medical physicist who works with radiation and he is very careful because of the possibility of cancer and other health care risks due to cell phone electromagnetic radiation. There is no certain proof that cell phone use causes problems but evidence is growing that there are links. It may take a generation or two for us to know. So we have cell phones (and have cable for internet with free phone, plus we use Skype LOTS (in-laws are overseas)) but we are careful about their use. I have one with me when I go anywhere but it’s turned off unless I need to make a call or am expecting one. My husband is also careful about other electronics (TV, computer monitors and microwaves too) around our small and unborn children because he takes his responsibility before God to care for his family seriously.

  • Mari says:

    We need to have a land line due to my hubby’s medical condition in case I need help. I toyed with just using my cell but sometimes I don’t get very good reception in the house. I chose the cheapest plan thru the phone company ($32) and then checked my cell usage and figured out that I was only using about 1/4th of the minutes I was paying for. I changed plans the other day and for a land line and cell service with free long distance/free nights & weekends I am paying $62. which was what I was just about paying for my old cell plan alone. I feel better knowing that when I am not home that my hubby or my little one can call 911 in a pinch. We tried service thru the cable company and we had issues with the calls connecting and it was always very staticy as someone else stated.

  • Kim says:

    We use Yahoo’s “Phone Out” to make long distance calls. It works through Yahoo Messenger. All you need is the internet, yahoo messenger, and you need to buy a cheap headset at WalMart and there you go! You buy minutes in advance. The lowest plan you can purchase is $10, but you get 1,000 minutes. That breaks down to only one cent per minute, which is far better than any long distance plan or phone card that I have ever seen.

  • Sarah says:

    We currently have two cell phones and no land line. We realized that we had the land line pretty much just for DSL access. I heard something on the radio about AT&T having to offer DSL without a landline because of a settlement, so I called and explained that we didn’t need the landline but still wanted DSL. They set us up with dry loop service and we’re no longer paying $20 for our land line (and that was just basic local service – we were already using cell phones for long distance). We have a $70 cell phone plan (after all the taxes and fees) through AT&T that covers 2 lines on a family plan and has free long distance. We have 550 minutes between the phones, but much of our talking is to each other and in the evening or on the weekend to family, which are all unlimited. The unused minutes also roll over so we never worry about going over during a month even if we talk a lot because of the banked minutes. I never miss having a regular phone. Someone else mentioned having to have a phone line for DSL, and I would definitely recommend asking them if they can do dry loop service, and if not, checking to see if AT&T DSL is available in your area and if they do dry loop in your area, since I know they can do dry loop service.

    The only thing that concerns me about not having a land line phone is having kids in the house in case of an emergency (we don’t have any yet). It seems like it would be easier for a child to find a phone and call 911 on a land line phone that’s in one place rather than on a cell phone that may be in a purse or in mom’s pocket or somewhere else. The other thing is if you need to leave a child with someone else for some reason who doesn’t have a cell phone, they would have no way to call for help if something happened. I know both of those can probably be worked out, but it’s something we’ll think through in our household when we have a baby.

    Hope something in there helps someone.

  • Sarah says:

    Now I see that if I’d read ALL the comments, I would have seen the suggestion to have an old cell phone plugged in that call 911. That’s brilliant.

  • Linn says:

    We use the calling card that Costco provides (2.99 cents/minute) for our landline and the cell phones also for long distance (we try to go to them first since those minutes are “free”)!

  • My family uses onesuite.com, and we have been very pleased with the service.

  • Michelle says:

    Great topic. I have been looking into this now for two weeks. Right now our phone company provides us with internet and unlimited long distance with all the bells and whistles for $90 per month. We live in a rural area and there are not many options for internet. Cable does offer internet here for $60 per month-YIKES! They say it is 6-7X faster than our current DSL. Would it be worth it to change to Cable Internet $60 & Vonage $25???? I really am torn here. Any insight??? Much appreciated.

  • Shane says:

    Vonage ftw. Assuming you have high speed internet. Just remember to not be uploading anything while using the phone, or you’ll have bad quality.

  • Shannan says:

    We have used Vontage for around 5 years now and love it! My husband’s family lives in Mexico and Vontage alone has saved us bundles. We now use Skype to make the calls to Mexico and it is so neat to be able to see everyone as you are talking to them…and the best of all it’s free! Our Vontage bill is under $30 a month and we have every add on possible. They have some really neat add ons as well. Check it out! I think you will love it!

  • Cassie says:

    We use ECG. It is only 2.5 cents a minute. There is no connection charge or monthly fees. You dial direct from your phone. I have been using it for over a year now. Here is the website:
    http://ecg1.com/?page=products-ld

  • We got rid of our long distance about two years ago. We use a calling card that we got at BJ’s wholesale club that gives us long distance at I think 3 cents (or less) a minute. I refill it maybe once every six months. I pre-programmed all of the phone numbers and pins in so it is all done automatically via my phone. We do have one cell phone that is really only for emergencies on the road. It travels with DD (the adult who has her has the phone). I don’t like speaking on cell phones. I haven’t found one with a clarity that I can stand (just me). Our internet is through our local phone company and I use email A LOT instead of phone calls. : )

  • tammy says:

    We ditched our land line and switched to Skype. I paid $45 for a YEAR of unlimited, worldwide service! We also have a cell that is pay as you go for emergency reasons only, b/c Skype doesn’t work w/911 or if your internet is down.

  • Rachel W. says:

    I would also suggest Vonage. Cheap, clear, and all kinds of features I would never actually pay for but my kids adore. You do need a good internet connection, but once the box is set up, it’s no different than your old phone.
    In the interests of complete information, I have a friend who has had her Vonage account go down unexpectedly several times, but that seems to be related to problems with her cable(internet)connection , rather than a direct Vonage issue.

  • sara says:

    We have just regular local land line for $24/month and use a calling card for long distance. Often, and even this week in fact, Walgreens will put their calling cards on sale BOGO. On this deal, you get two 340 minute cards for $20 which works out to be 3 cents per minute. That’s less than we paid with Sprint, plus we had to pay a $5 service charge each month. The calling card system works great for us. we use cell phones for emergencies only on a pay as you go plan.

  • Lisa says:

    I have my cable, internet and home phone all in one package. I pay $85.00 a month. My land line is unlimited everything so I never pay anything over my flat rate of 85 dollars. I just switched to that the 1st of the year because I also have a cell phone, but we were going over our mintues and paying more than we would just having a house phone! So now we have already saved tons this year! Hope this helps Crystal. 😉

  • karen says:

    We have Vonage and I love it. (Tried Magic Jack and it was horrible!) We have the 500 outgoing minute plan and it’s about $18/mo with taxes. You get to place 500 mins of outgoing calls and get unlimited incoming calls. If you go over the 500 mins it just a couple cents/min. Also included is all the call waiting, CID, voicemail etc. I love it as it’s CHEAP and complete phone service with live customer service and great incentives for referring friends (contact me if you want to sign up and we both get two free months)!!

  • Amy says:

    We just switched to only cell phones. We were able to keep our landline phone number, but now calls go to a cell phone. The only problem we’ve had is that I don’t always hear the cell phone ring if I’m in another room. But, my husband was searching this morning, and he said he found a system that is like a dock for your cell phone and it connects to your regular cordless phones. So it allows you to have phones in different rooms and you can call on them as long as your cell phone is on the dock. (That would be perfect for the kids to use.) He said it also cleans up the sound of your cell phone and makes it sound like a landline phone. I don’t know the name of the system, but he said it was $140.

  • Debbie says:

    For those of you with a land phone for local only….just curious….can you call toll free long distance? (ie, 1-800, 1-877, etc). I ask because we too are considering dropping the long distance and keeping just local on the land phone. We rarely call a long distance #, with the exception of toll free.

  • Amy says:

    THIS IS IT!!! We also have Tmobile with my faves but pay the additional price of 10.00 per month to have HOT SPOT. Your cell phone will pick up the wireless internet in your house( wireless router was free after rebate when I bought it) and as long as you are picking up that signal you can talk for FREE!! no minutes used. My bars change from black to hot pink showing my nickname I named my router. I then know I am not burning minutes. We also pay for the my faves… Hot spot is a great feature when you are traveling. ANYPLACE you are that has free wifi, you can use their wifi and use the phone for free–no minutes…starbucks, Old Chicago, Honda dealership(waiting on your car)…Sometimes you have to get the code from them–a lot of places change the code daily to prevent people from picking up wireless in the parking lot. ALSO–great if one of you travels. Most hotels offer internet connections and wifi. Same thing–get the passcode, connect to them–still not burning minutes. We were able to go super low on minutes to budget in the hotspot….Most of us make calls in the house anyways, so save the minutes for on the road, emergencies etc…
    I would be curious if any one else uses this and loves it as much as we do….
    By the way–I had VONAGE and dropped them like a bad habit….It worked great for @ 1 year–then I started having problems –cable company blamed vonage, vonage blamed cable company for issues…..So there I was forced to use my cell phone, using munutes to sit on hold…to battle it out with vonage and cable….That got old REAL quick
    Hope this helps,,,,amy

  • Tania says:

    We have DSL and use Vonage for our phone.
    It is the best deal we have found for our area. (Vonage is an internet phone company.)
    I have a post about Vonage here- http://myeverydayjoys.blogspot.com/2008/03/
    saving-money-on-phone-bills.html

  • Angela says:

    We have been using Skype to make on-line video calls. You can use it to call land lines, but I’m not sure how that pricing is structured. We also have cell phones with nights and weekends starting at 6 pm.

  • Justine says:

    We use Vonage… costs us only $18 a month and has been reliable and a great savings to us!

  • Courtney says:

    Vonage! It’s a wonderful option for keeping the long distance bill manageable. We love it and can’t say enough about it.

    Blessings,
    Courtney

  • Satsuki says:

    Before I had my cell phone I used to buy my “phone cards” online. They’d email the code and you could call a local number and get a good rate. This worked out better than the ones in stores- price wise. I think it depends on how much you’re going to use it. $10 lasted me about 1 1/2-3 months usually.

  • Sandra says:

    We use a lesser known VOIP company called Voice Pulse. http://www.voicepulse.com/ It’s $14.99 for unlimited local, 200 min. of long distance, and all the good stuff like call waiting, caller ID, etc. For over 200 min. it’s 5 cents a minute. We’ve been very pleased with them, and it’s the cheapest phone bill we’ve ever had.

  • Raj says:

    I’ve been using a company called WQN for years now to call to both UK and France. There are no taxes, fees, or equipment to set up. The quality is great and the rates are very competitive. They give FREE minutes to their customers all the time with special bonus offers. They also have a loyalty program that gives their customers up to 3000 FREE minutes every 6 months. I’m able to get lots of free minutes to call my destinations with great quality.

    Check them out at http://www.WQN.com

  • Mary says:

    I got a magic jack but I dont understand it fully. DUH right? lol. How do I keep my phone number? I currently have all my internet, cable and phone in one HUGE bill. If I cancel my phone dont I lose my number?

  • Alison says:

    I dont think we have “the best deal” out there, but after a good deal of searching this is what we have. Quest home with unlimited long distance, 2 cell phones with no roaming (also quest) 1000min, plus about 200 bonus min for getting it at the “right time” and all 3 of these can call each other without using any of our plan min. Also included in the bundle is the high speed internet, and my husbands satalite TV that he “cant live w/out” (the middle level, not just basic but no premiums like HBO) all this including taxes for just under 200 a month. I think that sounds high until I see friends who pay almost that for cells and high speed w/out cable and home phones so maybe we did get a good deal on it. Good luck looking for what works for you!

  • yaolin says:

    Like anything, I think there were be pros and cons to Magic Jack (I have never personally tried it before).

    See
    http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/320/RipOff0320581.htm#330202

  • zahir says:

    A couple of people already mentioned Onesuite and I must agree that Onesuite is one of your best option out there. Let me just add why I chose to use and stay with Onesuite.

    1. Pay as you go/Cheap rates – This is like an insurance to me. No yearly or monthly plans. That means you may quit anytime you want without having to worry on your unused minutes. For roaming rates, just check this comparison page -> http://www.onesuite.com/comparisons_roaming.asp

    2. 24/7 live customer support – As far as I know they’re the only one offering round the clock live phone support. It comes handy when you don’t have internet access and you have a question to ask that can not wait until the regular working hours.

    3. Online access – Everything can be done online, from adding money to your account to checking your usage or call history. But everything can be done offline too and through their toll free phone support.

    As an added bonus, now you can use your Onesuite account for voip calls too. That means added accesibility and cheaper rates on some destinations.

    Now I only use my mobile for emergencies.

  • Lori says:

    Regardless of what we do for long distance we have always kept a basic landline for emergencies. We have 3 small children and since we sometimes have babysitters who may not have a cell phone, I want to make sure that we have a way to contact them when we are away from home and that they have a way to call out. We have tried a variety of different long distance plans and so far the most-cost effective was buying cheap phone cards at the drugstore or job-lot store. Since we now have relatives living overseas, we are soon going to try Skype and see how that compares in call cost and quality.

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