Jan 23 2012

An update on our Magic Jack Plus home phone

 Jan. 31 edit: I have had THREE calls drop in the last week. Not good.

It’s been about two months since I purchased a MagicJack Plus device for our home telephone usage. I’m happy to say that it’s going well!

Just a reminder — you use a regular telephone with the Magic Jack. You don’t need to buy a special phone to use it. I chose a cordless phone that cost about $15.

I use the Magic Jack Plus when calling my parents and my grandma, mostly. My parents don’t have AT&T cell phones so it uses my cell minutes to call them. My grandma prefers her landline. She doesn’t have long distance service on it, and my cell has a long-distance area code. My Magic Jack phone number has a 317 area code, which is local to Indianapolis.

I chose my area code and the first 3 digits of my phone number.

I use the Magic Jack phone when making local calls to businesses and any place that doesn’t have a toll-free phone number.

The call quality isn’t perfect. If you want crystal-clear phone conversations, you probably won’t get them with this device. I think the sound quality compares to a decent cell phone connection, though. I’ve never had a call drop, become garbled, or otherwise un-talkable.

Perhaps if I had a high-tech phone or a faster internet connection, I’d hear even better results.

People on the other line hear me just fine, and I can hear them plainly, too. I’m happy with it enough that I want to keep it, but I just want to caution you of what you could expect.

I paid $69 + tax for the device and 12 months of service (unlimited free calls, voicemail and other perks). Next year, I’ll pay $30 for 12 months of service. Cheap!

By using the device for most of our calls while at home, we’re able to have the smallest available family plan for our cell phones.

We still haven’t decided if it’s best for us to keep our contract plan, or if we’d be better off to switch to a prepaid cell.

The voicemail service is entertaining. If someone calls and I don’t pick up, they hear “The Magic Jack customer you are trying to reach is unavailable,” or something like that, and then they can leave a message.

Immediately, I get an email which tells me the phone number the call came from, and has an audio file I can download and listen to. Or, I could call my phone number and press # to hear the message.

I don’t get a notification for missed calls, though.

I wouldn’t recommend this as your only phone line, since it will not work if you have a power failure or even if your internet conks out. It’s best to have a cell phone as well.

Note that not everyone has favorable reviews of the Magic Jack Plus. There are plenty of 1-star reviews on Amazon, and elsewhere throughout the internet. There are complaints about customer service and porting your phone number. I didn’t port my phone number; I created a new one. And I haven’t had to contact customer service, so I can’t comment on that.

Read up on the reviews, good and bad. If you buy one, be sure to get the Magic Jack Plus instead of the plain Magic Jack. The plain version requires you to keep your computer on to be in use.

There’s a 30-day trial if you purchase from the Magic Jack site.

Do you have a VoIP phone service? How do you like it?

Related: 7 cheap alternatives to a landline phone

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. I paid for my Magic Jack Plus myself, and have no business partnership with that company.

P.S. — I am working on the retirement series and I want to make sure I have it mostly written/outlined before I start, so that it will have a clear direction. I’m going to do a blog series and also post the links on a separate page for easy reference later. Hope to launch the week of Jan 30 but don’t hold me to it yet. Thank you!



9 Responses to “An update on our Magic Jack Plus home phone”

  1. I’ve gone back and forth on phone service a number of times and I’m afraid you may be sucking me into another round of VOIP.

    Originally, to save money, my wife and I did VOIP through a company SunRocket and did prepaid cell phones in case of emergencies. Monthly, it all worked out to about $30 for it all.

    It worked great! But, then SunRocket went out of business so we switched to a company called VOIP, which was not as good of a service. So we both got two cell phones, but with the expensive Verizon plans.

    The problem with just two cell phones, is that we often leave them on silent by accident and miss important phone calls when we are at home. We really could use landlines for those instances, but don’t like the extra costs.
    Shaun @ Smart Family Finance´s last post ..Comment on Lottery Winner Loses Everything in Four Years: Smart Approaches for Families with Income Windfalls by Shaun

  2. We switched to MJ from using our cable line. Saves us about $45 per month. No complaints for us aside that in our part of Canada they wouldn’t let us port our phone number.
    Sustainable PF´s last post ..Determining the Proper Stop Loss

  3. Yes, I do have a VoIP phone service through my cable company, Time Warner. I got it when it first became available. Right around that time my Dad became sick and then passed away. It has been such a blessing to have this. I am able to talk to my Mom as many times a day as I need to. Some days thats none but others it’s several long calls. She is now 85 and I handle her financial life- paying her bills, getting her medical appointments and prescriptions delivered and rides because she no longer drives. Thanks to the VoIP service I never have to stop and think about how much is this call going to cost me. It is not fun to have aging parents but I am so thankful for VoIP phone service, the internet ( I’ve ordered a new stove, a vacuum cleaner) and debit cards. All things that make it possible to be helpful from 1,000 miles away. I thought it was silly when she got VoIP phone service too but it has worked out well. She no longer hesitates to call if she needs me. I’m sure there will come a time when we will get by with just a cell but for now I am happy with the service and it’s worth every cent.

  4. I go back and forth on this subject.

    I’d really like to save the money…but I have a few friends that have had disastrous experiences and that is making me apprehensive. But I your review has me thinking again. Perhaps if I can find it for a good price I’ll think about it.

    Thanks for the great update.

  5. Yeah it’s a hard call. I think if you do get it, Tammy, maybe don’t port your current landline phone number over in case you decide you don’t like it.

  6. I have also been doing the magicjack plus experiment for the last month. i haven’t had any major complaints. I have a phone with an answering machine so any messages are left on the machine and not saved as a audio file. I didn’t port my number and also have not had to deal with customer service. I still have my landline for the moment. I kept it just in case I didn’t like the magicjack and I wanted to go back to the landline. It’s amazing how few calls you get when the telemarketers don’t know your phone number.

  7. I would always want a landline… to me it is worth the expense. we’ve had more than one extended power outage which also took out power to cell phone towers… no towers, no cell. I would also be concerned about 911 services being able to locate my home quickly (we live in a rural area).
    Christina @ Northern Cheapskate´s last post ..Making Progress on My Resolutions

  8. I have MagicJack plus. For several months everything went well. I use a cordless phone for my home phone. All of a sudden, I cannot call out using the cordless phone – only the softpad on the computer screen. I CAN receive incoming calls on the cordless phone but cannot make outgoing calls. I talked to MJ Tech service 3 times & talked to two persons each time to no avail. They know less that I do. I tried switching to a regular phone & that works OK. And the cordless phone worked great for several months – then all of a sudden it won’t. There should be some simple setting to re-set it – but nobody can come up w/a resolution.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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