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Save Money on Your Landline Phone

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Save Money on Landline Phone

Save Money on Landline Phone

There was a time when I paid $40 a month for a phone in my home. That didn't include features like long distance, caller ID, voice mail, and call waiting. They were all extra charges. Millions of people are still paying traditional phone companies $40 or more. In these tough economic times, doesn't it make sense to look for cheaper alternatives? What would you do with another $20 a month? Here are some options that I considered before settling on my $15 a month plan with Vonage (which included all the features that my old phone company had - and more).

  • Call Your Phone Company - You may be able to simply call up your phone company and negotiate cheaper rates. I would simply say that I like their service and reliability, but there are options out there that provide great service at a better price.
    Pros:

    • Don't have to have high speed Internet
    • Don't have do any paperwork to change your number
    • Emergency Services like 911 work as you expect them to.
    • If you lose electricity to your home you may still have a working phone

    Cons:

    • You may not get a discount
    • If you do get a discount, it might be only for a limited time. Then you are back to paying high rates like before
  • Get Phone Through your Cable / Internet Company - It seems like Comcast is offering to be my phone company every 10 minutes. They offer package deals that are a good savings over what my old phone company had to offer.
    Pros:

    • Likely cheaper than your current phone company
    • One bill for your cable, Internet, and phone access
    • Use your standard phones easily
    • Bring your landline phone anywhere

    Cons:

    • Potential issues with Emergency Services (911)
    • Have to transfer your phone number or get a new one
    • Requires you to get and pay for high speed Internet
    • If you lose electricity you won't be able to use your phone
  • Get Vonage - I've had Vonage for 4 years now and I couldn't be happier with the service. I only pay $15 for the 500 minutes a month. I haven't come close to using up the minutes because I have cell phone. The catch is that you have to have a high-speed Internet connection. For a lot of people this isn't much of a catch.
    Pros:

    • Cheaper than the above options
    • Can use your standard phones easily
    • Bring your landline phone anywhere

    Cons:

    • Potential issues with Emergency Services (911)
    • Have to transfer your phone number or get a new one
    • Requires you to get and pay for high speed Internet
    • If you lose electricity you won't be able to use your phone
  • Skype - Skype is software that allows you to make phone calls over the Internet. You can call other Skype users for free. If you want to call landlines, you can buy Skype credits (about 2.1 cents a minute) or sign-up for "unlimited" landline calling for $2.95 a month (actually only 10,000 minutes as if you'll need more). A whole year of Skype is the price of many people's monthy bills.
    Pros:

    • Cheaper than the above options
    • Potential for free calls to others using Skype
    • Bring your landline phone anywhere

    Cons:

    • Potential issues with Emergency Services (911)
    • Have to transfer your phone number or get a new one
    • Requires you to get and pay for high speed Internet
    • If you lose electricity you won't be able to use your phone
    • Using your regular phones may require an additional adapter (I use a headset that I bought for $25).
  • MagicJack - MagicJack is a USB device (like a thumb drive) that allows you to call to landlines in the United States and Canada for free. While they claim "no monthly bills ever", there is a $20 a year fee. The product won a PC Magazine Editor's Choice award.
    Pros:

    • Cheaper than the above options. It's around $15 cheaper than Skype, so it will take you more than 2 years to make up the initial $40 cost of the device.
    • Works with regular phone lines.
    • Bring your landline phone anywhere

    Cons:

    • Potential issues with Emergency Services (911)
    • Have to transfer your phone number or get a new one
    • Requires you to get and pay for high speed Internet
    • If you lose electricity you won't be able to use your phone
    • Potentially have to deal with some problems, including: advertisements, an F rating with the Better Business Bureau in the past, and difficulty in removing the software.

Emergency Services (911)

When I mention above that there might be issues with emergency services, I mean that phones that use the Internet (the last four options here) have to be told where you are. It's a great feature that I can keep my Boston number out here in San Francisco, but I had to remember to tell Vonage that I moved.

Choosing the Right Discount Phone Service

Being the frugal person that I am, I eliminated the traditional phone company option. I'm Lazy too so I don't want to be calling them every 6 months threatening to cancel if they don't give me a cheaper rate. That's never a fun call to make anyway. The choice between Comcast and Vonage was easy for me. The Comcast option was more money and had the same feature set.

I've considered moving to Skype. I currently pay Vonage about $180 a year ($15 x 12 months). Skype would be around $36 a year - a savings of a $144 a year. Some of that initial savings would have to go towards buying some hardware that connect my current phones to my Internet connection. I don't know if that hardware exists for Skype. You might either have to use a computer or their Skype phones. Even if I was prepared to make that leap, I don't know if I could ask the same of my wife.

That brings us to the MagicJack. I find the idea very intriguing. I don't think it's a fit for me because we mostly have laptops. That's not good for USB and a phone line plugged in at all times. The desktop computer we have doesn't have a reliably stay on our WiFi network and it's too far to hard-wire to our Internet connection. We wouldn't want to miss phone calls because it chose not to stay connected. We'd have to leave that computer on all the time too, which isn't free or environmentally friendly.

Photo Credit: Swansea Photographer

Last updated on January 15, 2009.

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16 Responses to “Save Money on Your Landline Phone”

  1. Miranda says:

    Great post! We just switched to phone service through our Internet provider. We are saving $30 a month. Our cell phone (pay as you go) serves as a back-up. For international calling, I love Skype.

  2. bigtimetopbanana says:

    I’ve been using Vonage for a couple of years just for the international phone calls to my parents back in England.

    We’ve decided to pack that in, and just have cellphones, with a calling card to phone England. I also purchased UK calling cards for my parents to make the call in the opposite direction.

    The problem I have with Skype is that to call other Skype users, you have plan the calls in advance, so it doesn’t work in emergency situations. The idea of the “unlimited landline” calls is interesting. Has anyone price compared that versus calling cards?
    Haven’t decided if

  3. P says:

    I use cell phone(s) instead of landline. A primary, and a backup pre-paid. I originally setup vonage as a number to give to merchants, and others I don’t want calling my cell. It goes directly to VM and then sends me an email. The last time I talked on Vonage, it was a bit choppy to use for an important phone call. That was a couple of years ago. I also have Skype, along with a Polycom (USB) speakerphone. It’s ok for phone calls, but perhaps a headset would work better.

    The last time I used land lines, they were around $25/mo. I was moving every couple of years, and got tired of paying their installation fee every time, along with having to leave work to meet the phone guy.

  4. Devo says:

    I have found a Very good site about MagicJack http://www.UninstallMagicJack.com

    when i was thinking about getting MagicJack i reviewed this site and figured it wasn’t worth the risk.

    it’s like one of those deals that is to good to be true.

    Hope it helps!

  5. Casey says:

    Another great way to save on phone bills (landline and cell) is by calling 1-800-FREE411 instead of 411. I saved $20 on my last cell phone bill just by making the switch and it is soooo easy! They have all business, government and residential listings- just like 411!

  6. Jason H says:

    You listed loss of electricity = no phone as a con for Comcast, but that is not 100% true. I have the Comcast service and the modem comes with a battery backup that will last up to 4 hours under load (ie usage).

    Now, the fact that all my phones are cordless kind of defeats that functionality, but I have lost power and observed the battery system engage. The modem kills the Internet and in my case my second line (actually due to my setup) as a power conservation measure to maximize uptime.

  7. Lazy Man says:

    My Comcast modem does not come with a battery backup (that I’m aware of). If it does, or if you got had a battery backup generator, you could get around the problem. It’s just that in most cases, you’ll have no phone.

  8. Madison says:

    This helps a lot! We have Vonage right now, but I’m always wondering if there’s a better deal out there. I think we’ll stay put for now based on your research. Thanks!

  9. Devo says:

    I don’t use my home phone all that much and i’m thinking about trying a little VOIP company i found called http://www.VoiceStick.com has anyone heard of these guys? they have a Next to nothing plan that is $1 a month. any help would be great. Thanks!

  10. Shey says:

    I use a MagicJack with my laptop and it is kind of a pain. You don’t need to plug a phone into the USB device, though; you can use a headset plugged into your computer’s headphone and microphone jacks. If someone calls, the MJ will ring through your computer speakers and you can then quickly plug in the headset and talk.

  11. kudilu says:

    I don’t know about Comcast, but Cox Cable does the same package deal in our area. For us at least, the phone works just fine when the power’s out. Dealt with it a few times.

  12. 2Million says:

    Lazy,
    You missed the device we currently use – Ooma! Based on our experience over the past month I think it has a better value than the pay as you go services you have listed. One time ~$200 hardware purchase and no service fees.

  13. VC says:

    For a lot of people, wouldn’t it be cheaper to cut out the landline altogether? Most people I know primarily use their cell phones anyway. When someone does call my landline, I only answer when it’s someone whose number I know because we get so much telemarketing calls. It would be a lot cheaper just to give those few people my cell number.

  14. Kirtes C says:

    Land lines are needed for our home security system to work. This feature helped us decide to keep our land line.

  15. Linda says:

    I’m looking to switch to Vonage for my landline service, but my worry is that we’ll have to have our computer constantly on- is this a valid issue, or will the calls just go straight to voice mail when the computer is off?

  16. Executioner says:

    I will second one of the previous comments about Ooma. We bought ours over a year and a half ago for about $140 and since then have never paid another cent on local phone service. I use it for conference calls for work when cell phone static (and low sound quality) would be problematic.

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