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Finances & Money

How Vonage saved me money overseas

(This may sound like a commercial for Vonage, but it’s not. It’s seriously just my own story)

I used to be a Vonage customer for about 6 years, but after a couple years of not using many minutes, I decided to just cancel it.

Fast forward to now where I’ve been working from home almost every day for the last 6 months. Without a home phone, and only my work cellphone, I’ve been using twice as many minutes allotted per month. I needed a home phone.

I checked with Comcast for a Triple Play deal, but to keep my same channels and get unlimited phone calls, I would have to upgrade to a more expensive cable plan. In the end, with Vonage, I’m saving about $75 in the first year, and $120 for each subsequent year compared to their best deal. And Verizon Fios wasn’t any better unless I wanted to sign a contract for 2 years. There’s no contract with Vonage.

Why not just Skype?

Ok, I’ve never Skyped and being in the IT field, you would think I would know more about it, but honestly I don’t know anything about Skyping. Plus, I don’t want to bother setting up a time to call someone else who uses Skype just to get a free call or whatever. Plus, this is work, not play, and I need something more professional, so I opted for VOIP (i.e. Vonage).

The Often Unrealized Benefit of Vonage

When we visited friends in Germany last year, they had brought their Vonage box over with them. Because it just uses the internet for calls, you can make calls from your Vonage box anywhere that has a LAN line. There are some exceptions I heard about such as some countries in the Middle East where they’ve blocked Vonage. But for Europe, it works beautifully.

Here’s a quick story: On the way to the airport for our Germany flight, we were rear-ended. The guy wouldn’t give over his insurance info and caused us to almost miss our flight (by mere seconds!). On the way to the airport, we started the claim process, but couldn’t finish it before we left the country. Thanks to our friends’ Vonage line, we were able to call in the claim from overseas (often on hold for 10-15 minutes) for free (to us). In contrast, my cellphone plan would have cost 25 cents per minute, thus Vonage saved us a lot of stress and money.

Not many people realize this benefit of taking their Vonage line with them during travel. First, though, I will say that I’m glad Vonage switched from their Linksys router to a much more compact design. They probably realized that people were using their own wireless routers and just needed to hook in their Vonage line rather than have multiple modems.

If you’re just traveling in the US, you can use your cellphone for the most part. But, for international trips, whether vacation or work, being able to take your Vonage box with you (and a phone in case the hotel’s phone isn’t a normal, compatible phone) is much cheaper and easier than using Skype, cell plans or calling cards. If your company is paying for the internet, or the hotel’s internet is free, then bonus!

Recently, I tested Vonage by taking it and an old-school corded phone with me to London. I hooked up the LAN line to the box, then the box to my computer (because I had to pay for the internet first) and sure enough, it worked instantly. Being able to call my wife and family (especially during some tough times with a family member’s health), was great, in addition to calling into afternoon meetings in the US (evening for me in the UK).

While I wasn’t limited to making calls from my cell, I was able to not stress about longer calls because I had Vonage. I didn’t have to remind my mom or wife that every 4 minutes was another dollar…I just talked.

What do you think? Give me your opinion on Skype and how it would work out in my travel situations for work. I’d like to know more, as well as your own Vonage or cable/fios stories!

About the author

Clever Dude

8 Comments

  • Vonage works fine, but I gave mine up in favor of an Ooma Telo. The concept is the same, plug ‘the box’ into your lan and then plug your telephone into ‘the box’. The difference is that you purchase the Ooma device up front for a cost of about $200 and then you receive unlimited calling to US numbers for free (except for local taxes and fees, which are currently $3.49 where I live). You pay more up front and they may go out of business (as may Vonage) but you also save $25/month over Vonage’ unlimited plan, so the break even point is only eight months or less.

    Skype is also worth investing, if only for the occasional video calling feature. Also, since my home is located in “cell phone hell” I use Skype on my Android phone to make most of my home calls over WiFi. Skype allows unlimited calling to all US telephone numbers (skype-to-skype calls are free) for only $2.99/month. I know this is redundant, with the Ooma, but I use my cell as my primary phone so it is more convenient to make most of my calls this way. I use the Ooma primarily as my ‘office’ phone, and for long speaker-phone calls when I’m on hold waiting for customer no-service.

  • I agree, Ooma is the way to go. I even got it before they started charging the $3.50/month for taxes, I don’t pay a dime. I had vonage before this, the call quality is better, almost unrecognizable.

    Plus, Ooma has an app for iphone so you use your same account and don’t have to carry the big box oversees (just need a wifi connection with your iphone).

  • @TJ, so many options out there when it comes to VOIP options. I re-signed up with Vonage shortly before my trip, so I didn’t get to check into their new offerings, but I believe they do have a Droid/iPhone app that might allow you to use the service on a cellphone. I’ll have to go research that now!

  • I’m an American living in Australia. Since we relocated here permanently, we dropped our U.S. cell phones and got Australian mobile phones. (Note the difference in terminology!) 🙂

    For calls overseas, we use Skype, either from our iPhones or from our home computers. It’s super easy and free. If I ever need to call a landline in the U.S., I use my Skype account. Since I set it up in the U.S., it’s just two cents per minute or free for 800 numbers.

    I also use Skype for work. If you ever need to record a call, there’s a low-cost Skype call recorder that saves the entire video.

  • With all the options available, landline phones seem pretty superflous these days.

    Anyway I use skype because I can buy a skype number (or multiple numbers if you live in one country for about half of the year and in another for the rest of the year).
    There is no box/ monthly plan, so this works great if there is no need to call a lot. Before I had a smartphone, I forwarded the skype number to my cell phone – and now that I have an iPhone, I can use the skype app for calling. It also works with video calls on phones with cameras, which is another plus 😉
    If the other person does not have skype, I can still call them with skype credit, which only costs several cents/min anyways.

  • Magic Jack works great. I’ve used it living in Japan and Germany (free calls to the US or to any other Magic Jack number regardless of location) and haven’t had any problems.

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