Free Skype Calls on a Cell Phone?

Category: Mobile , Telephony

Can I use Skype to make free calls on a cell phone? I'm almost always in a wifi zone, so why not use Skype or other VoIP calling services to make calls, instead of burning up my minutes? Seems logical, but I've heard that some mobile carriers force you to use your minutes even when calling on Skype. I'd love to have this subject clarified, thanks!

Free VoIP Calling on a Mobile Phone

It's true, using the Skype app on your mobile phone, you can call other Skype users for free. You can call landline or other mobile phones, too, for as little as 1.9 cents per minute. Just install Skype Mobile software on an iPhone, Android or Blackberry smartphone, buy some Skype credits, and you can get started right way. If you want to learn more about VoIP, see my related article Free VoIP Phone Calls.

There's just one little problem: you may have to pay your mobile carrier for minutes or data connectivity, in addition to any charges you pay to Skype. Yes, even if you have wifi available!

On the Verizon network, you can make unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls from the USA. This means you can talk to other people who have Skype on their mobile phone or computer, for free. Maybe. If you have an unlimited data plan, you shouldn't have to worry. But if you have a data plan with caps, you could end up paying overage charges for the data that you burn while Skyping. See this Skype data usage page to get an idea of how much data you will use for various types of VoIP calling.
Free Skype Calling on Cell Phone

But wait, it gets even more annoying. Any Skype calls to U.S. landline or mobile numbers will be carried on the Verizon network -- not Skype -- so you'll be using your cellular minutes when you talk on Skype. Clearly, Skype caved to Verizon and modified their app so these calls would be routed through Verizon (thus using your minutes) even when a data or wifi connection is available. And just to confuse things a little more, international calls do not consume your Verizon plan minutes, but instead require Skype Credit just like Skype on your computer.

UPDATE: For Android users, it turns out there are TWO Skype apps. The one called "Skype Mobile on Verizon" has the undesirable features I mentioned above, and is pre-installed on some Verizon phones. However, there is another app named "Skype" that DOES allow you to make calls over wifi. This is the app you want to use! If you have the pre-installed "Skype Mobile on Verizon" app, you CANNOT uninstall it, but you CAN install the "real" Skype app, and just ignore the Verizon branded app. For Verizon iPhone users, there is only one Skype app, and it does not permit voice calls over wifi.

Truly Free Mobile Wifi Calling

Fortunately, there are other options that enable free mobile VoIP calling over wifi. If you have a T-Mobile or AT&T smartphone, and can connect to a WiFi network, then you don't have to pay carrier charges to use Skype or any other mobile VoIP service. Skype-to-Skype calls are truly free, and you pay only Skype's low rates for calls to landlines and other mobile phones. These calls will use your wifi connection (not your plan minutes) to make VoIP calls over the Internet, as you'd expect.

For people who have wifi available in their home, office or wherever they make most of their phone calls, it may be a good idea to get a prepaid AT&T or T-Mobile smartphone, with the cheapest available calling plan. Download the Skype app, and for about $3 a month in Skype credits, you get unlimited calling within the USA and Canada. You'll probably also want a Skype online number ($5 per month), which allows you to receive incoming calls and voicemail. For those times when you are not within wifi range, you've got your cellular plan minutes as a backup. I have not tried this, but it seems like one should be able to use a smartphone with wifi, and NO calling plan, to save even more.

Fring lets you make voice calls or video chats on a wifi network, without burning any minutes or incurring data charges. (Yes, even on a Verizon phone.) Calls to other Fring users are free, and you can use fringOut to call landline or mobile numbers worldwide, with rates starting at 1 cent per minute.

Vonage, a Skype competitor in the VoIP arena, recently released the Vonage Mobile app for Android and iPhone. It works over WiFi networks to provide free voice and text messaging to other phones equipped with the Vonage app. If no WiFi signal is available, the app uses your 3G or 4G cellular service and your cellular carrier's regular rates apply. For a limited time, Vonage Mobile is offering free calls and text messages to mobile and landline phones in the U. S., Canada, and Puerto Rico (up to 3000 minutes per month). is an app that you can use with any of several dozen VoIP services. It's available for Android, iOS, Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows Phone handsets. The app itself is free, and works over WiFi or 3G services. But you will have to subscribe to one of the many VoIP services offered.

Mobile VoIP over wifi -- whether it's with Skype, Fring, Vonage, or a similar service -- is yet another way to reduce your monthly phone bill. It can be very useful if you don't have an unlimited calling plan, and want to conserve your minutes. It also saves roaming charges when you are outside of your service area, and can save more than 70 per cent off the cost of international calls.

Do you use Skype or some other VoIP service on your mobile phone? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Free Skype Calls on a Cell Phone?"

Posted by:

09 Feb 2012

I have been using google voice. It works great on my laptop. Unfortunately, unknown to me at the time, every call is being charged to my Verizon account on my iPhone. Beware, the calls are not free on Verizon.

Posted by:

09 Feb 2012

I use SKYPE daily to call my home in the Caribbean from any wifi connection in the USA. Using the IPOD Touch. I connect to the home computer or my wife's I PAD. At no cost to me. Works great. Almost as good as a Dick Tracy watch.

Posted by:

09 Feb 2012

What about using Google Voice (with Wi-Fi) on AT&T and T-Mobile? Is there any charge by the respective carriers?

Posted by:

Charles Heineke
09 Feb 2012

It's amazing to see all the hoops people have to go through to try to avoid the excessive charges the major wireless carriers force on them when they could simply switch to the inexpensive, totally and truly unlmimited plan Lightyear Wireless offers, which would avoid all of that. I never have to be concerned about how many minutes I use, how much data I use, or anything else like that. As far as I know, it's the only truly unlimited plan in the country. And all for just $59.99/month plus only state sales tax. All the other fees the majors add on are totally unnecessary and not found at Lightyear Wireless. It's America's best kept cell phone secret.

Posted by:

09 Feb 2012

Does anyone know if Fring or Google Voice will work on Telus(Canadian provider)phones?

Posted by:

09 Feb 2012

While I can appreciate the desire to save money and use technology to stick it to the "man", what about an even easier option? I bought a prepaid phone with unlimited talk for $45 a month and I don't worry about any apps or Google voice or even what carrier I'm using. It's all unlimited and not hard to figure out.

Posted by:

09 Feb 2012

To get around the Skype Verizon minutes scam, I use the Skype app. not the Skype Mobile app from Verizon - easy fix. I started using Fring to video with my kids on their Ipod Touches with my Droid on 3G - love it. Works on 3G, wifi, droid and iphone/touch. Might leave skype for Fring .

Posted by:

09 Feb 2012

So why do calls to international cells cost so much more than international land lines?

Posted by:

j b
11 Feb 2012

MagicJack has a phone number option too - as part of the MJ long distance plan, it runs $19.95 a year.
I use the alternate number option often.

Thanks for the tip on the phone - I just ordered one from Amazon with T-Mobile prepaid.

Verison is awful!

Posted by:

05 Oct 2012

I use "straighttalk" android ZTE Merit Phone.
45.00 Mo. Unlimited everything.
I also use magicjack plus for my home landline phones..... all work good.

Posted by:

16 Dec 2013

I have not tried it so I cannot say how good or bad it is, but there's a relatively new-to-the-US VoIP service that offers totally free, unlimited calls and texts to all landlines and mobile phones within the US. Calls outside the US are not free, but credits can be earned to pay for them if you don't want to buy minutes. There's an app for iPhone, iPod, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry.

"Make calls to anyone worldwide, to fixed or mobile, even if they don’t have the app. Receive calls and voice messages too."

Posted by:

14 Mar 2020

Yeah, Skype is good for casual, social interactions. But for business web video conferences, I recommend using a more secured option such as a R-HUB HD video conferencing server. It provides 30 way HD video conferencing.

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