Google Voice Review

In our first lesson for this course, we told you a bit about what Google Voice is and what it does. Next, we covered how much it can cost. Now, let's put it all together and see how Google Voice stacks up in terms of advantages and disadvantages.


  • Lots of functionality, for free! – Google Voice is largely free to use, and lets you do things like pick a private American phone number to use and transcribe voicemails to text for free, too. Many of its competitors charge money for these features, or to even use them at all!
  • All of your phone functions, all in one spot in the cloud – Keep your voicemails and text messages secure in one place that you can access from almost anywhere. You can be on your desktop or laptop computer at home, or you can be on your mobile phone or a public computer while you're out and about. It doesn't matter.
  • One number to manage them all – Your single Google Voice number can help you better manage your other phones. For example, you can have specific phones ring when someone calls your Google Voice number; or turn on "Do Not Disturb" mode and catch up on any calls, text messages, or voicemails later when you're not busy.


  • Non-Americans need not apply – Currently, most Google Voice features can only be used if you have a Google Voice number. But you can only get a Google Voice number if you have a registered United States telephone number to verify it with.
  • You're still paying for calls, one way or another – While Google Voice itself is free, you'll still usually be using minutes and data from your existing phone plans to send and receive calls and text messages. Many alternatives give you extra minutes or data, or complete your calls over the Internet instead.
  • Weak multi-participant capabilities – Google Voice can do conference calls, but it's not that great at it. Other services like it have better audio/video conferencing and group texting tools.
  • Lack of emergency call functions – Like many similar services, Google Voice can't be used for emergency calls. So don't try calling 9-1-1 with it, or it will tell you that the number isn't in service.

The bottom line: 6.5/10

Google Voice fits a bit of a specific niche, so how much you'll like it will depend on how much you need to use it. If you frequently use your phone(s) to keep in touch with people on a regular basis, then Google Voice can be a big help. It gives you a central phone system and number where you can direct calls and text to any of your phones, as well as store all of your texts and voicemails in one secure spot. And you can manage it all from almost anywhere you can get an Internet connection.

There are certain features Google Voice doesn't have, though, such as phone extensions, Internet fax, and group texting and conferencing tools. Many of its competitors offer these, as well as separate phone/text/data plans so that you don't have to use up your existing personal one when you're running a business. And if you don't need all of the great phone co-ordination functions that Google Voice provides, there are many simpler apps and programs out there – such as Skype, Viber, and ooVoo –  that let you exchange calls, text messages, voicemails, and more over the Internet for free (or for prices comparable to those of Google Voice).


There you have it: our review of Google Voice! If you think it's something that you might like to try, then follow along with the rest of our Google Voice course as we show you how to use it to manage your phone operations in the digital cloud! Or, if you think Google Voice isn't quite right for you and would like to try another service like it, be sure to give our list of Google Voice alternatives a read!

How Much Does Google Voice Cost and When Is It Free?

Before you start using Google Voice, one question you'd probably like to ask is: "How much do I have to pay to use it?" Well, like most of Google's services, it isn't that expensive in terms of money. However, know that there are other "costs" associated with it. We'll explain what you need to know in this article.

Is Google Voice free?

Google Voice is mostly free to use. It costs you no money to sign up for an account or to claim a Google Voice number. Also, calls made through Google Voice to numbers in the United States and Canada are free, with a few exceptions. Calls made through Google Voice to anywhere else will cost money.

In addition, remember that Google makes most of the money off its services not through fees and subscriptions, but through "big data" advertising – and Google Voice is no exception. So, all communication information you create through, or add to, Google Voice is collected and processed by Google for their business operations. We just want to make sure that you're aware of this.

Google Voice prices

  • Calls to certain remote locations in Canada and the United States cost 1₵ U.S. per minute.
  • Calls to other countries have varying per-minute rates that are subject to change.

You can check this web page to see Google Voice's current rates. Simply click in the box labelled "Enter Country You Want to Call" and type in the name of the country in which you want to contact someone to see its rate. Or, click Show All Rates to see alphabetically-organized tables of countries and their calling rates; click one of the letters at the top-right of any table to skip to countries whose names start with that letter. You can also click the drop-down menus labelled "Currency" and "Billing Country" to change these, if you're going to be calling from a specific country and/or paying in a specific currency.

What other costs for Google Voice should I be aware of?

There are a few other things that you may want to keep in mind when using Google Voice so that you can avoid being surprised by a larger-than-normal telecom bill.

  • Calls don't use an Internet or data connection. This means that they still count towards your allotted monthly airtime minutes for the mobile device that you use to verify your account.
  • You may incur long-distance charges if your call is routed through a number not in your area code.
  • If you use Google Voice while outside the U.S. or Canada, you will be charged international rates, and your telecom provider may also charge you roaming fees.
  • Text messages use a data connection, so they can be sent or received via a Wi-Fi Internet connection or your mobile device's data plan (if you have one) at no extra cost. However, depending on your telecom carrier, you may be charged for incoming text messages.

How to buy credit for Google Voice

In order to make paid international calls with Google Voice, you need to have credit stored in your account. You can have up to $70 U.S. on your account at once. If you need to buy more, here's how to do it.

1. Using a web browser, access your Google Voice account.

Open Google Voice by navigating to in your web browser of choice and logging into your Google account.

2. Open the Google Voice main menu.

Click the Main Menu button (the three vertical lines) in the top-left corner of the page.

Google Voice main menu

3. Manage your Google Voice account credit.

When the main menu pane opens, click Credit.

Google Voice call credit button

4. Click "Add Credit," and then choose how much credit you wish to add to your account.

You will be taken to the "Payments" section of the "Settings" menu. From here, click Add Credit. A box will pop up; click the denomination of credit that you wish to purchase, and then click the Add Credit that appears within the box.

Add credit to Google Voice account

5. Select or add a payment method, and then confirm your credit purchase.

On the next page, you will have to select how you are going to pay for your credit purchase. If you don't have a credit card or debit card on your Google account, you will have to add one here.

Pay for Google Voice credit

Click in each of the fields highlighted in the screenshot above and type in:

  • your credit card number
  • the month and year that your credit card expires
  • your credit card verification code
  • your name, as it appears on your credit card
  • your billing address

When you've entered all of your information, click Buy.


There! Now you know how much you might have to pay for Google Voice, and how to buy credit for doing so. Next, we'll give you a full review of Google Voice, outlining the pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision on whether or not you really want to use it.

What Is Google Voice and How Does It Work?

Google Voice service

If you think about it, communicating by phone can be a chaotic ordeal, especially in a society where you're often expected to be available to your connections 24/7. Do people who need to get in touch with you know what number to call when you're in different places? Where was that important voicemail that you needed to remember: on your mobile phone, or on your home answering machine? Will you have to somehow reach everyone you know and tell them that you have a new phone number if you move to a new home or switch telecom carriers?

Enter Google Voice, which solves all of these dilemmas by consolidating all of your phone functions in one place that you can access from almost anywhere.

So what is Google Voice? What does it do?

Google Voice is an all-in-one personal phone centre. With it, you can send and receive calls and text messages to your contacts and other numbers. You can also store and review text messages and voicemails, reroute calls to any of your phones, send voicemails from your phones to Google Voice, and more!

How Google Voice works: 4 reasons why you should use it

1. Get a permanent American phone number… for free!

Everyone who signs up for a Google Voice account gets a free U.S. phone number from Google Voice. With it, you can keep your work and home life separate, or be reachable wherever anyone needs you. It all depends on how you set up other numbers you link to your account.

Search for available Google Voice numbers

2. Control your call flow.

Google Voice is like your own personal call centre, in that it has many ways to manage when and where you get communications through it. You choose which of your phones ring when someone calls or texts your Google Voice number. You choose whether your phones use their default voicemail systems, or send voicemails straight to Google Voice. You choose what greetings people get when their calls go to your Google Voice voicemail. You can even throw "Do Not Disturb" mode on and keep all of your texts and voicemails in Google Voice until you're free to review them!

Google Voice Do Not Disturb feature

3. Keep your text messages and voicemails organized and all in one spot.

Forget trying to remember which answering machine that important voicemail was left on, or where that informative text message went. Google Voice saves a record of all text messages and voicemails sent to your number, and even lets you set your other phones to send their voicemails directly to Google Voice! Once there, they all go into searchable histories sorted by time and participant. Read them, listen to them, continue the conversation, block a number, delete a message – all from any device!

Google Voice Voicemail

4. Use powerful calling and texting features at little to no cost.

Google Voice isn't just for incoming communications! You can use your Google Voice number to call or text virtually anyone in the U.S. or Canada for free, either through your mobile phone plan or through your Internet plan via Google Hangouts! Plus, you get a bunch of handy inbound call functions included with Google Voice. Want to record a phone call? Switch which phone you're having the call on? Start a conference call with multiple callers? With Google Voice, you can do all that and more!

Making a call with Google Voice

Is Google Voice free?

You don't need to pay to set up a Google Voice account, or even get a Google Voice number. On top of that, most calls and texts sent within the U.S. and Canada through Google Voice are free! Some actions, such as making international calls or changing your Google Voice number, will cost you money, though.

For full explanations of costs that you should consider when using Google Voice, see our next tutorial.

The history of Google Voice and why it's popular

Google Voice began its life as a similar service known as GrandCentral, created in 2005 by Craig Walker and Vincent Paquet. In July of 2007, Google bought out Walker and Paquet's company for over $95 million U.S., and then began re-tooling the application in secret for two years. In March of 2009, GrandCentral was re-launched as Google Voice, and in June of 2010, the service became accessible to all U.S. citizens.

What makes Google Voice popular is the same thing that made its predecessor, GrandCentral, attractive: its "one number to rule them all" concept. If you have a permanent phone number with Google Voice, people who need to get in touch with you don't need to remember a bunch of different numbers to reach you at home, at work, on your mobile device, or anywhere else. They also don't even need to worry about your number changing if you move or switch telecom carriers! They just need to contact your Google Voice number, and you can manage your communications wherever you happen to be at the time.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using Google Voice?


  • It gives you a lot of functionality for free. While many similar services charge money to do things like register a private phone number, transcribe voicemails, or even use them at all, Google Voice does not.
  • It puts all of your phone functions in a spot that you can get to from almost anywhere. So whether you're at home on your desktop/laptop computer or out and about on your mobile phone or a public computer, your Google Voice phone hub is accessible to you.
  • Having a single number to receive all of your phone communications at can help you better manage them on your other phones. For example, you can choose which of your phones ring when someone calls your Google Voice number, based on when and where you're available. Or, you can temporarily block Google Voice from forwarding communications to all of your other phones, if you're not going to be available and would rather check your messages later.


  • Most of its features can only be used by people who have registered United States phone numbers, as opposed to services like Skype that can be used internationally.
  • It mostly works off your current telecom plan, so while the service itself is "free," you'll still usually be using minutes and data from your existing phones. In contrast, many competing services usually include their own additional call and text plans, or else use VoIP to place calls and use up your Internet data in place of your phone data.
  • Weak multi-participant communication capabilities.
  • Lack of emergency call functions.

Who does Google Voice compete against?

Most of Google Voice's popular competitors are Internet-based call management systems for businesses, such as Grasshopper, Telzio, Voiceably, and Phonebooth. These contain additional features such as number extensions for different people or departments, fax-to-email capability, audio/video conferencing tools, and so on. However, almost all of them require you to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee, which Google Voice doesn't.

Google Voice also has a few rivals when it comes to personal call management systems. Quite possibly the most famous one is, as we mentioned, Microsoft's Skype. It can be used pretty much anywhere in the world (not just the U.S.), and can exchange computer files, text messages, phone calls, and even video chats for free – provided the person you're trying to reach is using Skype, too. You can also use it for calling regular phones, but that usually costs money, and you have to pay for your private number (unlike Google Voice's free one).

For a more in-depth look at services like Google Voice, along with their pros and cons, be sure to check out our top 8 list here.


That's a quick introduction to what Google Voice is and what it does. In the rest of this course, we'll explain how to use the many features of Google Voice. These include claiming your very own Google Voice phone number; sending and receiving calls, texts, and voicemails; blocking people you don't want to hear from; customizing your voicemail greetings; and even setting your other phones up to forward their voicemails right to Google Voice! We'll even include directions for how to shut down your Google Voice account and find the right alternative if it doesn't work out for you.