Cheaper cellphone texting from the UK to the USA.
July 16, 2006 4:55 AM   Subscribe

How can I save money sending hundreds of SMS messages (and making occasional phonecalls) from my UK mobile phone to a USA cell?

I currently use Virgin's Pay-As-You-Go for my phone - the prices are very competitive, and as I don't send that many texts to other Brits (or make many calls), there's not really any reason to get a monthly plan.

These days, however, circumstances have changed and I now send tons of texts to (one number in) the USA, occasionally also calling. The Virgin rates are, as far as I can tell, about the same as its competitors for international texts (20p / minute, 20p / text). But I'm wondering if I'm missing something or if anyone sells any monthly plans targeted at international callers like myself. I'm definitely spending £10-£20/mo (probably more) on international texts at this point.

I briefly looked into buying an American SIM card and using that, but roaming fees make it look like I wouldn't save any money by texting an American number from the UK...

Does anyone have any ideas for alternate cell plans or solutions? I'm really looking for something I can use with my phone (ie, internet-based free SMS websites aren't helpful, nor is Skype).

Many thanks!
posted by Marquis to Technology (9 answers total)
I don't know much about it, but there is software (for computers) for sending lots of SMS messages. (After all, those businesses with SMS-based services aren't sending each message from a phone :-). It sounds to me like you might be able to use something like that.
posted by winston at 6:38 AM on July 16, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, and this isn't me bulk-sending texts or anything. Just having lots of SMS conversations with someone.
posted by Marquis at 6:47 AM on July 16, 2006

If you're having conversations it sounds like you're doing it at the same time. So, if your phones have Java, why not use IM? It's still going to cost for the data, but it'll be way less than all those SMSs.

FWIW, I never found a solution when I was in a similar pickle.
posted by bonaldi at 7:41 AM on July 16, 2006

You can send SMSs via AIM. You can also Use AIM Mobile so you can still txt from your handset instead of being chained to a PC.
posted by Orb2069 at 8:34 AM on July 16, 2006

If you are willing to switch to O2 or Orange, you can use a service like Telediscount or Pre-dial to call the U.S. for the same rate as a UK landline.
posted by grouse at 8:53 AM on July 16, 2006

Best answer: Carphone Warehouse has a service similar to O2 and Orange through their own mobile company (uses T-mobile network) designed for calls to the states.

Its what i currently use. 5p/min calls to any number, 3p/sms. If you have an old mobile lying around it may be worth it to go out and snag an extra sim for communication to the US.
posted by ASM at 11:30 AM on July 16, 2006

Get a UK SkypeOut number. Forward the Skype number to the american phone. When you want to talk to the person in the USA, call the local UK SkypeNumber.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:37 AM on July 16, 2006

Uboot sells international texts for about $0.08 / each. Not sure about US coverage and I can't find any information in a quick look about their site, but I've used them when dating Gals in Amsterdam and Germany...pre scheduled delivery of messages is very useful as well.
posted by Mutant at 1:14 PM on July 16, 2006

Hey there

I'm in a similar position so I feel your pain! These are may ways to limit the financial hell!

On the phonecall front I've had good experience with Just Dial. Basically you just text them and that credits your phone with £3 or £5 of calls, you then dial via a london number so that if you have a number of free minutes on your plan, you're literally just paying for the US bit of the call which comes in at just over 1p a minute.

For texting, if your US cell buddy is on verizon or similar they have an email to text function so you can use your phone to send emails from your pop account which you can on pretty much anything recent. the format is generally [cell number]@"provider".com but check out what your buddy has from their end. Then you should be in the land of free messages going to his/her cell from your phone.

On a related note, a copy of MSN Messenger 7.5 on each persons computer and a couple of cheap webcams go a long way for zero money per minute beyond your normal ISP rate... Still can't see a need for Skype as long as you can have pretty decent video and voice calls for nothing with this.

Good luck!
posted by merocet at 3:49 AM on July 17, 2006

« Older Who first rapped "my name is __ and I'm here to...   |   elevator malfunction Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.