Free voicemail: How to avoid paying to check your cell phone messages

In a recent post on WalletPop, Aaron Crowe warned us of five details wireless companies don’t want you to know. The one that stood out to me was that most customers are paying an extra $2 to $3 a bill to listen to voicemail. Thanks to the decision of most cell phone carriers to include useless instructions and built in delays, checking voicemail is an infuriating and costly process; but there’s an easy way to get free voicemail and avoid the time suck of dialing in to check your voicemail — Google Voice.

If you don’t want to listen to instructions that seem antiquated even to people who grew up without answering machines, and pay for that dis-service, then you can forward your missed calls to Google Voice. After someone leaves you a message on Google Voice you can listen online, read the transcribed text via e-mail or receive it as a text message.

To make use of this service you don’t need to change your phone number; you just need a free Google Voice account and service with a compatible carrier.

Most major carriers allow you to forward missed calls, including

* Alltel

* AT&T

* Cricket Wireless

* MetroPCS

* Sprint * T-Mobile

* US Cellular

* Verizon

If you have a Google Voice account and a phone number from any of the above carriers, checking your voice mail for free is three steps and 30 seconds from becoming a reality.

1. Click on “Settings” in Google Voice.

2. Click on “Activate Google voice mail on this phone” to see settings for your specific phone.

3. Dial the correct numbers and save $20-$40 a year. If you don’t know the bizarre forwarding codes for your carrier don’t worry, Google will show you exactly what you need to enter in order.


While you need an invite to use Google Voice, getting one is pretty easy. Your best bet is to ask members of your social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Odds are one of them will have an extra invite, but if not ask around at work or purchase an invite on eBay for as low as 99 cents.

In addition to enduring the time- and money-wasting practice of traditional voicemail checking, there are many other great reasons to use Google Voice like call routing, call forwarding and other advanced calling features.

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