Send Free Text Messages, With or Without a Phone!

Category: Mobile , Telephony

If your mobile phone carrier charges you to send or receive a text, here's good news. There are several ways to send a free text message, and with some of them you don't even need a mobile phone. If you've ever wanted to send a quick text message and you didn't have a phone handy... or there's no cellular service where you are... or you hate paying international texting rates, read on!

How to Send Text Messages For Free

Text messaging is a wildly popular feature of cell phones, and one of the industry's fattest cash cows. But ironically, the growing popularity of smartphones is threatening the enormously profitable SMS text message, as free text messaging services that use data connections challenge traditional cellular SMS service.

Text messages brought a whopping $20 billion to cell phone companies last year; Verizon alone earned $7 billion in text message revenue. Profit margins are high, too. The cost of delivering a text message is estimated at one-third of a cent. Most wireless operators charge 10 to 20 cents per text message, or a flat monthly rate of around $20 for unlimited text messaging. International text messages can cost even more.

Free Text Messaging

Have you ever been in a place where there's no mobile phone signal, and you wanted to send a text message? You may experience this while inside a building, or in an area where your mobile carrier doesn't offer service. This happened to me last summer, while visiting Canada with my family. Our Verizon phones were useless at the resort where we stayed, but they did have wifi. So thanks to the Internet, we could still communicate.

Free text messaging services have been around for several years. There are many web-to-phone text services like Txt2Day that let you send a text message from your computer to any cell phone. Txt2Day promises you won't get spammed as a result, and they won't share your number with anyone. I've used the service myself, and can vouch that they take privacy seriously. And in order to prevent anonymous harassment, all messages are tagged with the sender's IP address. Txt2Day will provide this info to law enforcement when requested, and will also filter out most common "abusive" words. (NOTE: There are some "spicy" ads on the Txt2Day site.)

Unfortunately, you typically cannot receive a reply via text with these web-to-text services. One notable exception is the Pinger free web texting service. Pinger assigns you a free phone number, and lets you send and receive texts from a slick web-based interface that lets you view a log of messages sent and received.

Another is Google Voice's free text messaging service. You can text to any SMS-enabled phone in the U.S. or Canada for free, and receive replies. Of course, your correspondents will have to pay their carriers' usual text message charges, if applicable.

Most mobile carriers also have an email-to-text feature that allows you to send a message to a special email address that forwards to the recipient's cell phone. For example, you can send an email to 123-456-7890@vtext.com, and Verizon will deliver it to the user with that cell phone number. If you want to send a photo, change the domain to vzwpix.com. Users on other major carriers can be reached as follows (phonenumber)@txt.att.net (AT&T); @tmomail.net (T-Mobile); @messaging.sprintpcs.com (Sprint). For a comprehensive carrier list, see SMS gateways. Recipients can reply to your message, if their carrier allows them to send texts to an email address. The downside of course, is that you have to know in advance which carrier the recipient uses.

And if you're into web-based instant messaging, you can always use AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, Skype, Windows Live Messenger or Yahoo! Messenger as an alternative to SMS text messaging.

Free Apps For Texting

Apple offers free text messaging in its iOS operating system for iPhone users. The service, dubbed iMessage, will let users send and receive text, photos, and video to other iOS users over a WiFi or mobile data connection. But as is typical in the closed Apple ecosphere, the service works only between Apples devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

But don't worry... there are other free text messaging apps that work on Android or Blackberry, and will operate across platforms.

TextPlus provides free texting through an app available for iOS and Android devices. You get a TextPlus phone number to use with the app, similar to a Google Voice number. TextPlus does more than simple SMS messaging. You can join "communities" which are essentially chat rooms. You can send group texts to multiple contacts. You can even attach a voice message to a text message. TextPlus uses 3G or WiFi connections and works with tablets as well as smartphones.

WhatsApp is another popular messaging service for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry mobile devices. WhatsApp uses your 3G/4G or WiFi (when available) to send messages, rather than your mobile carrier's SMS network. WhatsApp integrates with your existing phone address book, and enables you to send text, video, and to your contacts, and handles group conversations too. If you have contacts outside the USA, WhatsApp send messages internationally without incurring any extra costs. The Offline support will save any messages you missed until you return.

Just as Skype, Vonage, and other VoIP services drove down the cost of voice calls, free text messaging services based on IP networks are undermining cellular carriers' overpriced text services. And that's a good thing for consumers.

Do you use a free texting service? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Send Free Text Messages, With or Without a Phone!"

Posted by:

David
13 Jun 2014

Viber is free texts and calls


Posted by:

David
13 Jun 2014

Viber is free texts and calls


Posted by:

Ed Mack
13 Jun 2014

I'm happy with my new Samsung S5. But, is there any way to allow non Samsung appso to altar the external SD card?


Posted by:

JP
13 Jun 2014

I've been using Pinger to send texts from my computer for about a year. The only downside to the service is that if you don't use it regularly (once every 30 days), your "phone number" expires, but they do send an email to warn you before it happens. Just send a text and you keep your number.


Posted by:

David Knoebel
13 Jun 2014

Bob, you mention Yahoo Messenger as a way of instant messaging, but fail to mention that there is also sms available free of charge for both domestic and international texting.


Posted by:

Bob McLeran
13 Jun 2014

Don't forget ChatOn - an app for both iOS and Android. We've been using it for years. Also, Voxer, which can send almost concurrent voice messages as well as text.


Posted by:

J
13 Jun 2014

Bob, you're smart! Also well informed.


Posted by:

Darcetha Manning
13 Jun 2014

Hey, Bob. I just read on WhatsApp website, that their app is free to try for one year. After the trial period, you have to pay 0.99 cents a year. Also, anyone you text, must have have WhatsApp activated on their phone.


Posted by:

DC
13 Jun 2014

I have used the app, VIBER, for a couple of years now. It's flawless and wonderfully easy to use. Both the sender and recipient need to have the app. You can attach pictures to it. I love it.


Posted by:

old gobbo
13 Jun 2014

Dear Bob - another useful article. Two questions:

1. Do you know if any of these function within or to/from Europe (or indeed elsewhere) or are they only useful in North America ?

2. How does one make money offering a free text service ? I doubt if it is out of the goodness of their hearts, and it is useful to know so as to understand what may be the limitations / drawbacks of the service.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm sure that the instant messaging apps like ICQ, Skype, at al work globally. And WhatsApp as well.

Most free services are ad supported, or they offer a premium service level, with features not found in the free version.


Posted by:

top squirrel
13 Jun 2014

There's a way to text free from one computer to another. Called email. Try it; it works.


Posted by:

Tony
13 Jun 2014

Dammit! yet another reason why I'm envious of the US. You guys are at the forefront of practically everything - both of good and bad...though mostly good I hasten to add:)


Posted by:

RandiO
13 Jun 2014

GoogleVoice is my pick, and the free gVoice phone number that you can choose (any area code) is the bonus. What is the amazing part is the fact that gVoice actually gives you a 10cent credit on your account. I hope gVoice is never retired.

Recently, I received a text-to-phone message on my Vonage and when I logged into my Vonage voicemail, it actually read it back to me. I hope the phone spammers and telemarketers don't get a whiff of this t2p concept!


Posted by:

Todd
13 Jun 2014

I've been using ZipWhip for years. It integrates with your phone, allows importing your contacts and provides the messages to multiple devices.


Posted by:

Gary
14 Jun 2014

Try Kik messenger its free, send pictures, text, I use it in the UK to chat with family in USA


Posted by:

Cho
14 Jun 2014

Mighty Text is an excellent free Texting service


Posted by:

P. Mac
19 Jun 2014

I live in a remote area in Canada with out cell phone service no towers within 100 miles but we do have high speed internet service is there any way I can use my smart phone hear using WiFi internet with out high costs.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sure, you can use wifi on your smartphone to access the web, make phone calls with Skype or Fring, and use the text messaging apps mentioned in this article. As long as you're in wifi range, you can do pretty much anything, without a cellular signal. In fact, your best bet is to get a used unactivated phone, and DON'T sign up with a mobile provider.


Posted by:

Stu
21 Jun 2014

Hi I started to use "Pinger for Desktop" for Windows 7 in the last week. Today(Saturday)all hell broke loose with an assault of web pages being opened either in an open browser or new browser openings. Large and heavy...eventually closing everything, removing the program and restoring to an earlier time and full virus scan and search of the Registry....NEVER AGAIN...BEWARE


Posted by:

Yano
01 Jan 2015

I live in EUrope and here there is few carriers with email-to-phone
feature. I have read that in the US most of web-to-phone messages is
blocked without a reason. And all from oversee. Is it true ? Only
genuine sms cell-to- cell are delivered 100% , or from commercial
services


Posted by:

Arn
24 Jan 2015

Is there a way to send a message from my email (yahoo) to a pinger number I've used it to text to Verizon if there's a way what would the address be maybe like (123)4567890@pinger.com I tried that but something is liar maybe?


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