International calls can be extremely expensive, but what if you could just get an American number for free and call from it over Wi-Fi or data? That’s what these apps do, and the result is much cheaper (or even free!) calling to the US from anywhere in the world.
Each of these apps assigns you an American number that you can use to call or text any other American number, and it will behave like you are in the US. They only use your Wi-Fi or data, not your actual cell minutes or SMS text messages. You can even use these to call from a tablet.
Let’s take a look at your best options for calling to the US without paying international rates.
Talkatone has been around for a while and is one of the most well-known options on this list. It’s gone through a lot of changes over the years, but now it offers unlimited free calls and texts to any numbers within the US and Canada. You can buy credits to make international calls, and those rates vary.
It’s packed full of features as well as banner ads, but the ads can be removed with a one-time in-app purchase of $9.99. It has features like setting a custom voicemail greeting, setting a passcode so no one else can access the app, and blocking certain numbers.
Talkatone handles the basics with ease, and the one-time price to remove ads is lower when compared to some of the subscription models in this list. It’s interface is basic, modern, and a breeze to navigate. This app is a good place to start if you want to try calling to the US or Canada for free and aren’t really sure what options are available.
Download: Talkatone (Free)
TextNow also offers free calls and texts to the US and Canada, but with a slightly different design and much more customization. This app has a menu that slides in from the left side, and you can change the theme’s colors to your heart’s content.
It even lets you sync your texts with your computer (just like iPhone users do with their Macs, or other Android users do with MightyText or even AirDroid), which is a huge bonus when compared to the other apps on this list.
However, TextNow is a little pricey. To remove ads, “lock-in” your number, and have access to call forwarding, you’ll have to pony up $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year. The number “lock-in” part is odd since you’re given a free number, but TextNow’s website says that if you’re not paying for premium, that number could be recycled after a few days of inactivity.
Download: TextNow (Free)
FreeTone/TextMe Up/Text Me
Alright, this might sound a little weird, but stick with me. FreeTone, TextMe Up, and Text Me are all the same app — just with different color schemes.
Seriously. If you download FreeTone from the Play Store, sign in, and make an account, you’re given a number. If you then download TextMe Up, you’ll automatically be signed in with the same number. And they’re identical aside from the color scheme. FreeTone is a seafoam greenish-blue, TextMe Up is light blue, and Text Me is nearly royal blue.
They’re all made by the same company, TextMe, and I could not tell you why they chose to make three separate apps. But, whichever app you end up downloading, they all work pretty nice. Ads are more integrated than the easily-ignorable banner ads (see the sponsored Uber ad above), which is sneaky and feels like the ads are too mixed in with the content. It costs $1.99 a month to remove those ads.
Calls and texts to the US and Canada are still free here, but you can purchase credits to call internationally (or earn credits by watching sponsored videos). There’s also a web messenger that you can log into on any device using the built-in QR code scanner.
Download: FreeTone (Free)
Download: TextMe Up (Free)
Download: Text Me (Free)
Unfortunately, we’ve left the land of free calls to the US and Canada. TextPlus offers free texts, but not free calls. Calls within the US seem to be about 2 cents a minute, and you can watch videos to get free credits if necessary. It costs $20 a year to get unlimited US and Canada calling, and you can remove ads for $1 a month.
The interface is very green and separated into five tabs, and the first tab is basically just ads and “text messagings facts”. The other four are your texts, calls, contacts, and settings. In the settings, you can easily change your number out for a new one in any area code in the US.
Without free calls to the US and Canada, I can’t see a whole lot of reasons to choose TextPlus over any of the previous options, unless maybe they have cheaper calling rates to a particular country.
Download: TextPlus (Free)
Dingtone’s interface is definitely not as aesthetically pleasing as the other apps on this list. It looks like it was designed a few years ago and never updated. While it doesn’t offer free calls to the US and Canada, it does offer some unique features like Callback, where Dingtone rings you and the other person and then connects you (preventing fees from one of you calling the other).
You can also set up voicemail, call forwarding, call blocking, and earn free credits by watching videos. Unfortunately its prices are obscured by the fact that it doesn’t charge by cents per minute, but by credits per minute, which can make it really easy to overspend.
While the other apps only give you access to US numbers, though, Dingtone can actually get you a number in the US, UK, Canada, or Belgium, which might appeal to some folks.
Download: Dingtone (Free)
Which Is Your Favorite?
I think Talkatone is the winner here, since it offers free calls to the US and Canada without any subscription fee. However, if you’re willing to pay monthly, the customization options in TextNow are solid.
Which of these apps is your favorite for calling to the US? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!
Originally written by Riley J. Dennis on July 8th, 2014.