Friday, 6 November 2009

Money Saving Tip #5: Buy a Magic Jack

I previously wrote about the money-saving benefits of using Skype for calling home while away. Of course I'm still a big Skype supporter, especially for totally free video calling and calling other Skypers for free. However if you need to call a land line from Skype, you are subject to their international calling rate of something like 3 cents/minute. While this is a still a really good deal, there is something better. The Magic Jack. (Thanks, Wes, for the suggestion!)

The Magic Jack is a small, simple device you plug simultaneously into your computer and your phone. It then enables you to pick up your phone and start making free calls to the US and Canada. It's pretty simple. Here are a couple things to know.

1. The Magic Jack service costs $19.95/year. There is a one time fee of $20 to purchase the device. So, the first year, your total cost will be $39.95. Subsequent years will be only $19.95. (By way of contrast, we spent about $60 last year buying Skype credit.) You are entitled to make and receive as many phone calls as you like--your total annual cost will still only be $19.95.

2. You will be given a free phone number with an area code that you get to choose. This means people can call you too. We chose our parents' area code in Washington State. That way, though we live in the UK, they can call us and it's a local call for them.

3. According to the website, you can make calls only to US and Canadian numbers for free. However, registered users can also purchase low cost minutes for international calls.

4. Along with the free local number, the service also includes free voice mail, call waiting, three-way calling and call forwarding.

5. This may just be a personal thing, but I thought the Magic Jack website looked kind of sketchy. If we hadn't known people who've used the service successfully, I would have been inclined to think it was a scam. Check it out, though, for more information and to order. Note, they do not currently ship to the UK--only to the US and Canada. If you're already in the UK, just have it shipped to family or friends and have them forward it to you.

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  1. I heartily agree that Magic Jack is a great way to go! You might be thinking...but I'll just use skype for free. But in reality, you'll have to call to actual phones in the US more than you think, both for personal and business purposes. And of course, it is great to be able to leave a US phone number for people to call as well.

    You won't be disappointed!

  2. Helpful stuff! I plan to buy a magic jack and drop Skype based on your feedback. As an American living in the UK, I have to say my #1 tip is public transport. I came from a part of the states where trains and bus service are non-existent or unavailable. I cannot believe how cheaply you can get around if you are willing to buy a ticket a few days in advance. I live the first 18 months is Scotland without even buying or needed a car.

  3. Thanks for the helpful thoughts!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I have lived in the UK since June 2006 and bought a magicjack before i moved here so that my elderly mother could call me just as she calls my siblings across town without having to worry about international calling codes or rates etc. $20 a year is well worth the ease of use and mostly the peace of mind I've gotten for it.

  6. I am still not able to find a reliable and cheap VOIP device, I read many magicjack reviews and many buyers complained of their bad customer support where people reported that they waited 2 hours for someone to get back to them and they disconnect if they are not able to answer your questions

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