Save Money By Emailing Phones Rather Than Texting

If you’ve got a smart phone it doesn’t make much sense to pay $5, $10 or more a month for text messaging plans once you realize you can send free messages to friends’ phones via email. All you need to pull off the trick is your text-ees’ phone numbers and service providers.

A Popular Mechanics post from last year rounds up the formulas:





AIM: +1phonenumber

Once you add your friends’ cell emails to your contacts, it’s just a matter of firing off a mass email telling them to text you at your email address from now on.

How to Email Text Messages to Any Phone [Popular Mechanics]


Edit Your Comment

  1. chaesar says:

    isn’t texting rolled into the cost of a data plan? like $$$ for data/text/minutes?

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      Not for most plans.

      • chemmy says:

        My Verizon Blackberry data plan is $30/month for each of two phones. Texting is an additional $0.10/ea or we can have unlimited for like $5 or $10 a month. Not worth it IMHO

        • nybiker says:

          Unless Verizon changed it recently, texts without any plan are 20 cents and photo messages are 25 cents.

    • sth9669 says:

      definitely not! They want to get as much money out of you as possible. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the text message is the single most profitable offering for wireless companies, because if you don’t have text messaging plan, it’s like 10 or 20 cents to send/receive a text message, and there’s no way it costs that much to send 144 characters. . . .

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Not for most carriers. Texting is a different item than data because all phones can have texting but not all phones can have data. On AT&T it’s $30 for an unlimited family texting plan, and then data is charged separately depending on whether you have a phone that even requires or can utilize a data plan.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Remember, the receiver of texts pays for them as well as the sender.

      If your friend has an iPhone and you have a non-smartphone (i.e. basic model phone, RAZR, etc.) then you have to pay for the texts even if they didn’t.

  2. cash_da_pibble says:

    I’ve done this quite a few times.

    I figured it out when I sent a picture to my email through my phone…
    and saw my phone’s email address.

    That’s a foolproof way to nail down your address.
    You can send pictures at well- but that address is different.

  3. Alvis says:

    I ONLY do this. My friends may be OK with paying for texts, but I’m not shelling out for the outrageous rates texting demands.

  4. Cyniconvention says:

    That’s how I’ve been communicating with people for about the past 6 months.I can’t be troubled to squint at the numberpad and press “7” five times for one letter.

  5. c_c says:

    If you have a smartphone plan w/ Sprint unlimited texts are included …

    Also there are texting apps (my wife used to use Textfree or something like that when she had an iPod Touch) that allow you to “text” for free (uses email).

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      Yeah, but you’d also have Sprint…

    • The Marionette says:

      You are right. I can’t say for sure that all smartphone plans have unlimited text included, but from the ones I’ve seen they do. And like you said there are apps that let you “text” for free.

  6. Thyme for an edit button says:

    I think you can get free texts with google voice. I have been testing it on my Android phone and so far so good.

    • thebigbluecheez says:

      +Three Hundred Million! I switched over everyone to text me on google voice and am turning off my $15/month texting plan shortly. Pro tip: tell everyone to save your old phone number as your “home” number, and the google voice one as your cell.

    • PencilSharp says:

      As soon as Google Voice went out of invite status, I got my daughter signed up, and now she can text her friends from her PC. She used to tear the hell out of her prepaid cell phone on texting. Trust me, those ads showing cell texts as ringing cash registers are spooky accurate.

  7. hewhoroams says:

    Also, google voice! I can use my google voice number to text back and forth and it all forwards to email address.
    Now I can manage all my text conversations through my inbox.

    • LatinoGeek says:

      +1 for Google Voice. My only problem is getting certain people to stop texting me to cel and to text to my google voice number.

      • hewhoroams says:

        Usually you can help that along by calling them and texting them from your google voice number. I get the ‘did you get a new number?’ a lot. Sometimes I just say yes.

        • webdancer says:

          I always say, “yes”. :-) And for good measure, just tell the non-compliant friends that your previous number will no longer receive texts.

  8. sth9669 says:

    Another option if you have a smart phone, is to get an IM client, like Google Talk, which comes standard on Android phones and has an app for Blackberry (and iPhone?). Much better than text, it’s totally free (in that it’s rolled into my unlimited data plan) and you get to see the status of the person on the other end so you can tell if they’re available for messaging, which is better than sending a blind sms message and hoping they’re there. . .

  9. BrianneG says:

    Now that my husband and I have Droid Xs we no longer text each other, just gmail. E-mails come through like texts but can be much longer. We still have text plans because not everyone is using smartphones or has switched from texting even if they have one. In just one month, I managed to cut my texting in half, but it’s still cheapest to pay $5 for 250 texts.

  10. no says:

    I pretty much only text through AIM and have for years. I only reply with my phone if I’m far from a computer.

  11. WorkingDad says:

    One day, perhaps when we’re all flying around like the Jetsons, maybe technology will have advanced to the point were we can press a few buttons and exchange not text, but the spoken word – and in real time!

    Oh, wait…

    • BangBangAnnie says:

      Exactly. Similar those commercials for the new service that ‘speaks’ your text message to the recipient. Hello? Just pick up the phone and talk to them.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I don’t understand why talking on the phone with someone is so important. I prefer face to face conversation when it comes to long talks or discussions, but if that isn’t possible, I jump right to email. Phone calls just to chat are interupting and annoying. At least with face to face conversations, I’ve planned for it and I’ve blocked off that time. Emails let me formulate a proper response and return to whatever I was doing while the other person formulates his or her response. This is why I hate it when people randomly drop into my cubicle and want to have conversations.

    • Marshmelly says:

      Eh…I don’t like talking on the phone. Too immediate…I can’t think of what I need to say and I don’t like the idea that someone is on the other line listening to my every breath and waiting for my response…as opposed to a text where I can answer whenever I feel like it, and have what I need to say completely thought out. Its also much more difficult to comprehend what other people are saying over the phone, especially if there are distractions like traffic, people talking etc etc.

  12. Tim says:

    Or if both parties have smart phones, just e-mail to e-mail. If you have notifications turned on for your e-mail, it’s just like texting.

  13. Stubtify says:

    This is a real jerk move.

    You send an email and your friend gets charged to receive a text. When you send an email to it comes through to your recipient as a text. Also they would probably reply as a text to your email address you sent the text from, instead of reply through their email program, which wouldn’t have the message to refer to, they’d get charged a text again.

    Then there’s the whole idea that you cannot tell how many characters your email will be, plus there could be email headers included. A small “Hey lets meet later” could turn out to take up 2 texts, a longer paragraph would be multiple.

    Safest bet is to email only, and send the email to the address they check on their phone. Or just man up and get an unlimited texting plan with a carrier that doesn’t rob you blind.

    • coren says:

      It’s not a jerk move if they pay for texting. Your assumption is they don’t. Mine is that people won’t be jerks about it.

    • Aesteval says:

      From what I’ve seen for service over the years is that emails that are sent to the email address that forwards as a text message to the phone doesn’t generate a charge for receiving a text message. It doesn’t mean that all providers operate the same way, but incoming texts via that given email address tend to be free.

      However, I don’t see how this could possibly replace sending a text message from a phone. I’d think that even if the text is sent as an email, the user will still be hit with a data fee instead of a text fee.

    • osiris73 says:

      I have Verizon and my wife has Sprint and I know for a fact that we both get charged for incoming *and* outgoing texts. Well, not charged per se, but they count towards our total allowance per month.

  14. DallasM says:

    I tried that when I first got my iPhone. But I found out that people will just text you back so your text messages rack up quickly anyway. Ended up picking up the $5 ATT plan.

  15. coren says:

    This is also good if you want to talk to people and you’re at a computer/your phone doesn’t have texts/email. Or if you’re in a place where there’s no cell reception.

  16. brinks says:

    I don’t have a smart phone or any type of data plan on my phone. An unlimited texts plan is still way cheaper than any data plan.

    • yasth says:

      Depending on the carrier this isn’t true, for T-mobile it is rather strongly not true, AT&T is about even.

      • brinks says:

        I just looked at it. I’m saving $10 with my unlimited text plan vs. an unlimited text/data plan. That’s only a significant amount because I’m unemployed. It’s less significant than I thought.

  17. OgerpJr says:

    this is great for international travel. i just got hit $50+ in SMS charges, from a 4 day trip overseas.

  18. peebozi says:

    good idea, and I’ve used it in the past, but doesn’t it take longer to send/receive?

    txts are so instant (and inexpensive for the phone companies to provide…but, but they’re selling the perceived value not the actual cost plus O&P)

  19. kurtmac says:

    For those who care, U.S. Cellular is

  20. kc2idf says:

    Then your friends will follow suit, and before you know it, we’ll all be communicating by email.

  21. Bizdady says:

    Yahoo has this thing where you can text from your email like a chat. My wife uses that when she wants to txt when shes on her pc and doesnt feel like being on her phone at the same time.

  22. chemmy says:

    lol I’ve been using this on my BBerry for a while now and I have texting blocked. Now I need to find how to do it with Boost since my sister just dropped Verizon today.

  23. yzerman says:

    As a warning: This doesn’t work if you don’t already have a data plan as you will be charged data for sending those emails.

    Most people if they have a data plan on their phone they also have a text plan included, especially in the case of family plans. I know with my verizon plan it includes unlimted texting for $10 more a month which makes sense. However if I had a single line with something like 450 plan and I had to add a text plan to it going to the 250 or unlimited plans is expensive and doing this to cut on costs makes sense.

    I can see where if someone wanted to try to squeeze ever little once out of paying for something they could do this.

    • nybiker says:

      ..every little ounce. Sometimes a typo doesn’t hurt, other types I trip and hurt myself trying to figure out what was written.

  24. barty says:

    That’s what I’ve been doing on my iPhone since I’ve gotten it. I blocked incoming/outgoing texts since AT&T in their infinite wisdom decided to remove free texts from the iPhone data plan shortly before I signed up.

    It may be slightly less convenient for some folks to message me that way, but I’m the one paying for the texts they send me.

  25. HogwartsProfessor says:

    My phone is a Net10 dumbphone with no data plan. Text cost me five cents coming or going, and I usually have enough minutes to cover quite a bit of that, since it’s not my primary phone.

    I’m looking into dry DSL because the basic landline plan is outrageous and I’m not even making long distance calls on the thing anymore. So then my cell will probably be my primary phone, which means I will probably want to get something data-related.

    It’s not so easy to do this to save money. They don’t make it easy. I’d have to get a new phone, too.

  26. opticnrv says:

    If you both have smart phones, why aren’t you using one of the many IM apps out there to take the place of texting?

  27. golddog says:

    In an easter eggish throwback to 2006, you can also use:

    for AT&T customers. In fact, I believe the wormhole that allows this to still work also makes your messages and their content travel faster since the existence (and demise) of Cingular predates the release of the first iPhone and it’s infrastructure destroying capabilities by around six months. Kinda like that magical mailbox movie w/Keanu Reeves “The Lake House”.

  28. Joe Gamer says:

    God I wish more people would figure this out, problem is it is an all or nothing affair, as in all you’re friends have to do it, even the non-tech ones, hell my grandma started texting now, they make texting easy because they make such a buttload of money off of it but setting up email is still like using the decoder ring out of a cereal box, my best friends all have android now so we use Google talk for free chatting but I STILL have to have the cheapest texting plan because some people just can’t be bothered, dicks! C’mon were talking about 20 cents a message here help a buddy out.

  29. TehLlama says:

    … for those of you too dim to have figured this out and looked into it: THANK YOU for subsidizing my shiny new LTE networks!

  30. Phaedrus351 says:

    Not sure, but I don’t think you can email to a Sprint phone without a data plan without the sprint phone incurring charges. If they’ve got a data block on it (to keep from incurring charges from sending picture messages) you won’t get through at all, I don’t think. Google voice sms, conversely, works without a charge.