TextNow offers free calls and texts after $9.99 set-up fee

Ad-supported texts on TextNow

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A San Francisco startup may have the solution parents have been seeking for years. Free phone service – without an expensive monthly contract. 

“Never pay for phone service again,” TextNow says on its website. Sounds pretty enticing, right? 

There are several catches: TextNow offers you a personal phone number and connections to make free, ad-supported phone calls and texts. But it has to be with a phone that’s compatible with the Sprint or Verizon network. And you can’t surf the internet as well. That will cost you at least $19.99 monthly. 

But if you’re willing to spring for the $9.99 set-up fee to buy the TextNow Sim card to install in your existing phone or new purchase, you get a free alternative to the major wireless carriers whose monthly fees are sky-high. Verizon’s wireless plan starts at $70 for one line of service, for instance.

Ad-supported texts on TextNow

“This has been our goal for years, to go free,” says Derek Ting, TextNow’s co-founder. “We finally got there.”

TextNow had offered free calls and texts, but only to customers who were within WiFi range and who made calls on the TextNow smartphone app. 

Now, once you register, download the app and get a phone number from TextNow, the phone will ring for incoming calls, whether or not the app is open. 

Ting reports over 200 million downloads for the TextNow app. 

It was just a year ago that another tech startup, Mint Mobile, advertised during the 2019 Super Bowl, with its low-ball offer of $15 monthly for free calls, texts and 3 GB of mobile data. The catch was that the price jumped to $25 monthly after the first 3 months. Later in 2019, rival Unreal Mobile countered with a $20 monthly plan for 3 GB of data. 

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