3 Free (and really good) Alternatives to Paying for Text Messaging

text-messaging-alternativesOkay, so maybe I’m getting cheap these days, but really, what need is there to pay for text-messaging on your cell phone? With all the other free alternatives that work just as well – if not better – why do people persist in paying for this service? Everyone is texting these days (well, except for me) so it just seems to be an after-thought for so many.

I tell people that I don’t text and they look at me like I’ve got two green heads. I just have never understood why it’s there and people pay for it. I’m already paying for the unlimited data plan so I have full internet access, so I can use any number of solutions.

Maybe I’m not the one with two green heads after all.

The issue really came to my attention when my wife and I were trading images back and forth of our daughter via text/media message a couple years back. She’d grab a nice picture, or I would and we’d send them back and forth. Then I got the bill.

I didn’t realize that I didn’t have a text plan in place. To say that bill was painful would be an understatement.

At that point, I swore it off. There was no way I was going to pay to send any sort of message via text message when I already had a supposed "unlimited" plan. (Obviously not so unlimited as to include this little darling of a service. I was very clear with them about my displeasure with such an "unlimited" plan.)

I had no plan on doing any more text messaging. Ever. I still don’t. That bill still brings back bad memories. But my wife loves to text her friends so we had to get a special plan for her (I haven’t yet been able to convert her to one of the solutions below, but I’m working on it!), but my displeasure with texting reared its head again this week as I saw text charges showing up on my number.

I called the company and got the issue resolved, but it got me thinking – why does anyone pay for this service when there are better free options available? For me it was an easy decision. Here are a few of the options you have.


This one is, in my opinion, the best and easiest solution.  Send images via Twitpic or other similar services, use DM for private messages and it’s 140 characters – same length as is traditionally allowed in text messages. It’s free. Everyone is on Twitter (or they should be). It couldn’t be easier to use – you follow your friends and contacts – they follow you back. Done.

Chat & Instant Messaging

There are so many free chat options that are not only great services, but they’re easy to use and you probably have at least one of them already installed on your phone!

  • Yahoo! Messenger – Easily added if you have a Yahoo! account. It does the same thing as a traditional chat on your desktop computer
  • Google Talk – Perfect for Android users, it’s already installed on your phone. Besides, all your contacts are already stored in your GMail account, so this could be one of the easiest of all to use.
  • Blackberry Messenger – More proprietary to Blackberry users, but still a great potential solution if you and your friends are using Blackberries. If not, then just use…
  • Skype – Sure, you can subscribe and make VOIP calls on your phone using Skype, but that’s not the point here. This is absolutely perfect solution for those who don’t want to use Twitter (but why someone wouldn’t want to use it is beyond me).


Remember email? Yep, it was one of the main reasons behind the first smart phones to begin with. You’re already paying for the data package, and you want to increase what you’re spending so you can send a text message and pay more? What cell phone company would turn that down? Yeah, not one.

Use your email. You’ve got an email address, so use it on your phone. You don’t have to work any harder to send an email than you have to send a text. It’s obviously easy to use, there is no character limit, and you can add attachments for whatever you want to send.

Cell phones are expensive already, why pay more than you need to? It’s time for us to start looking for a new carrier too. Sometimes, it’s just too expensive. Which brings me back to the question – why are you paying for texts again?

image by joeshoe

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