3 ways to sending cheaper SMS

17 September 2009

O2 recently announced that they have reduced their minimum spend for 'Pay & Go' tariff in exchange for free texts. How? By halving their "Text & Web" tariff from £30 / month to £15 / month, claiming that this is "designed to give Pay & Go customers unlimited peace of mind when surfing and texting".

However, if you are a textaholic with phone phobia (the irony) and thus a low call volume, £15 may still be a bit too much dosh to top up monthly just to send some SMS, like this teenager.

So if you find yourself cringing every time you spend 10p-20p to text a few mates about work delays to get to the pub, you might want to look at cheaper and more effective means to communicate.

There are other options for sending cheaper texts without a contract. Some are even 'free'. Here are three alternative ways to reducing your texting bills. You probably already use some of them. They include (1) to send texts over the internet from a computer, (2) send them over your internet-enabled mobile phone via the internet, or (3) use a cheap sim-only text plan. Let's compare the options, and see if any would suit you better:

1. Sending SMS over the internet

If you're in front of a computer all day, why use your phone when you can send text messages from your desktop?

Services such as CBFSMS and GizmoSMS are also worth checking out. CBFSMS have a free version, but I would suggest considering the VIP version. If you want to use the free version, go over their T&C, which mentions that texts can contain adverts.

Texts for CBFSMS VIPs start from 0.04 / SMS, but the benefit of this over other online services is that you can receive replies directly on your own mobile phone by programming the caller SMS ID on the site to your own number. For those going for the 'free' version, remember to tell your friend who is texting them, and switch off the online replies option, which costs 20p per text.

TxtLocal is also worth a look, which gives you 10 free credits. It also stores your numbers and responses.

Looking to send international text messages? Try SendSMSNow. The site is a free signup for unlimited international texts to various countries including the USA, Canada, and even India. Replies go to your own online inbox.

If you're with O2 or Orange, just sign in to the O2 or Orange website. This allows you to send up to 10 free texts a month with O2, and 30 per month with Orange. Sure, 10 free texts in a month isn't much, but if it's just as convenient for you as using your phone, it's worth a try. Plus, it feels luxurious typing texts with a regular keyboard... unless you have one of those flexible silicone keyboard thingies (the only good thing about them is that they seem pretty resistant to being ripped it into little pieces).

2. Sending them over your WAP/internet phone

Maybe you don't have a computer at your fingertips all day, but there are applications that you can download for your mobile phone that let you send super cheap texts using your phone's mobile internet connection. That's because the networks charge you per megabyte of data transfer, and only very tiny amounts of data are transferred. 2 such popular services include Fishtext and Vyke.

Fishtext is a service that lets you download a special application onto your phone. It then charges your 2p per text, plus the charge to your network for use of the internet to transfer data, which is usually negligible. When you sign up you get 20p free, and then later you can top up a minimum of £5, which allows 250 messages. If you have friends signed up to Fishtext, it's even cheaper.

Vyke is another option. It's free to text other mobiles with Vyke (aside from your network's internet charge) and is otherwise 3p per text. Minimum top-up is £5.

Do note that mobile networks are becoming savvy to these services, and are subsequently changing their data plans. So it's a good idea to figure out your data plan before signing up.

3. Cheap SMS SIM plans

If you're willing to change out SIM cards, or you are one of those cool people with lots of trouser room and carry 2 phones with you, you can buy a special SIM card that's cheap for texting and switch to that card when you're ready to text. You can get cheap SIM cards from Orange and O2, often with 1,000 texts for £10. You should also check out other cheap providers like Ikea Mobile, Tesco Mobile, and Asda Phones, where SMS can work out cheaper than the major networks. But first, don't forget to cancel T-mobile contract.

Know other great ways to send SMS on the cheap or for free, or have experiences with the above? Please share with us below.

TOPICS:   Mobile

6 comments

  • F.D. A.
    can someone come up with a cheap solution involving skype?
  • Nobby
    If you use O2 homebroadband, you can send 100 a month for free on the web too.
  • Vince W.
    Hey FD - have you looked at other VOIP software like VOIPStunt (www.voipstunt.com) and SMSDiscount (www.smsdiscount.com)? They tend to work out alot cheaper than Skype with free calls to landlines in loads of countries, and other benefits like mass SMS, caller ID features and call forwarding. Personally, I think those are some of the best programs on the planet. Here's a very useful site if you want to compare rates (call rates though) between all the Betamax VOIP services: http://backsla.sh/betamax Note that most of those programs are interestingly owned by the same company... but since you have to top up 5 euros minimum I suggest finding one that works best for countries you plan to call and stick to it (I use SmartVOIP myself): Skype SMS tends to be pretty expensive. e.g. to UK mobiles £0.056+VAT per text. You can look at the other rates here http://www.skype.com/prices/smsrates/
  • Maurice G.
    Also worth looking at www.puretxt.com for UK solutions, we use their free keywords to build customer lists at the club, great service and sms prices are around the same or less than most.
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