Does Google Voice Use Minutes or Data?

Does Google Voice Use Minutes or Data? Does Google Voice cost money? How does Google Voice calling or texting work? The answer is Yes, Yes and I don’t know.

Update: See this for more info

Google Voice is an awesome idea and piece of software (if you are willing to give away more self information to Google than you already have). It is not a VOIP service like Google Talk; it is a call management service. It will always cost you money in one way or the other (cellular minutes or data) and you will not be able to make free calls. If you consider cellular data to be free or use wifi, there are workarounds to make it free like using Talkatone or GrooVe IP or other third party apps. These applications use Google Talk free calling feature(VOIP) along with Google Voice, which integrates with Google Talk, to make free calls using only data. Keep in mind that by using more services, you are distributing your own information all over the Internet companies.

Let us recap. Google by itself doesn’t allow free calls on the cellphones. Google allows free calls on the computer using Google Talk. Third party applications allow free calls on the cellphone using the cellular data and Google Voice + Talk.

Are text messages free on Google Voice? Yes. Whether you use it from a cellphone or a computer, messages are free.

But, hey how does Google Voice use your minutes or data to send/make or receive calls/texts? From what I read about it on Google forums, I put together a simple diagram. Notice the color coding in the image.

Google Voice and Carrier Minutes or Data

Incoming and voicemails – Google transfers the call to your cellphone which costs carrier minutes. If you are using Google for voicemail, whenever you miss a call, your carrier forwards the call to Google voicemail. Call forwarding uses carrier minutes.

Outgoing and voicemails – First, if you notice a voicemail and call your voicemail box, you are using carrier minutes. Second, whenever you initiate a outgoing call, Google Voice uses data (a tiny bit) to connect to the server and initiates the call by calling your cellphone, which costs carrier minutes, and then connecting the call to the other phone.

Text message and voicemail – Why is voicemail mentioned here? Because Google transcribes the voicemails which can be accessed as email or text messages. Now, all text messaging happens over the cellular data or wifi and it doesn’t use any cellular minutes.

Oh, why did I say I don’t know how Google Voice works? Because I really don’t know how it works. I just know how they use the carrier minutes/texts (on high level) and I hope by now you do too. Let me know in the comments below.

Note about setup
You are using Google Voice number as primary and transferring calls to your cellphone number.
You have disabled the carrier voicemail and set it to forward to Google Voice voicemail.
You have disabled text message forwarding (to cellphone) on Google Voice.
You have free calls within US/Canada using Google Voice.

16 thoughts on “Does Google Voice Use Minutes or Data?”

  1. Here is an interesting question.

    Location 1 and location 2 are “long distant” from each other.

    You setup a Google Voice local number for location 1. Then you have the number forwarded to a magic jack phone at location 2 (which traditionally is a long distant call).

    Can Location 1 call location 2 via the forward, and it not be long distance charges?

    Even though location 1 has their home phone service and location 2 has their yearly mj subscription and their non-metered monthly home cable internet, there will be no additional charges for either making the call. I.e. no per call long distance?

    Am I correct?

    1. Hi Paul, I don’t have any knowledge about Magic Jack. I think if any one calls location 1 and if it set to forward to location 2, the caller shouldn’t be charged for long distance because caller is dialing local and it is Google servers that transfer the call to location 2. I’m not sure though!

      1. you can use magic jack to make international LD calls like calling local number, if person you are dialing owns magic jack with US number. However, the magic jack is not a reliable service. It has constant dropped service and poor quality of calls. I used this product before and I DON’T recommend it. Better yet, skype or other similar service is better option with excellent quality connection.

        1. Ray, have you tried MJ since they came out with their unit that does not require a computer? I have one and it is super reliable and I use it as my fax line and I make several calls a day from it when I am home and it seems very stable and reliable. Just thought I would through that out there for you. I have had this for a year now and it has been great.

  2. Let me get this straight. If I download Google Voice and create an account, but only make calls using Talkatone (which requires the Google voice account to make regular calls) it won’t use my minutes? Am I correct?

    1. If what talkatone says is true, it shouldn’t use any minutes. I use Google Talk to make calls from my computer whenever I’m on the computer. This feature is not available on a mobile device, but if Talkatone is able to fill that gap(created by Google intentionally), it should be free. From what I read on some forums, this does work on data without using your minutes. Enjoy.

    2. talkatone does not use any carrier minutes, but if you are using it while your phone is not connected to wifi you WILL be using data, but making calls through talkatone will not use carrier minutes. just make sure you are using wifi or have unlimited data, otherewise you will be paying a hefty bill when it comes to data. (i have been using talkatone for 6 months now due to no service where i am)

      1. Skelitonlord: Thanks for interesting stuff! Just one question, when you are not in a wifi spot and in an area with no service….how do you make a data connection to your carrier? Does your phone make a better connection when using data only (as opposed to making a cellular voice connection) or what is going on? I would like to be able to do what you are doing.

  3. I appreciate, cause I found just what I was looking for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

    1. No, it is not. Google voice still uses your minutes. The article, however, is wrong in explaining how making calls work. Google voice doesn’t use data to connect to Google server and Google server doesn’t call you back to connect, instead Google Voice app directly calls Google servers which will forward(connect) your call to the dialed number. That still uses your minutes though.

  4. Yes it uses cellular minutes based on the carrier. A good tip is to initiate calls using ipod touch or any tablet without phone calling capability, that is so no cellular routing is done like in a smartphone. You then use click to call feature and receive the call back on a free app (textfree+calling) and wait for the call to connect to the called party assuming you Added the phone number from the free app to your list of phones on google voice.

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