Over the years, I've tried out several ways of keeping in touch with my family and friends in the USA. When I first came to Israel in the early 90s I bought those ridiculous Telecards with 1000 or more yechidot on them! Later I bought prepaid minutes that I accessed via a code and PIN number, that I used from my phone line in my apartment. But life is different now, and we all have celphones, most of us have smartphones. Some plans even include unlimited overseas calls (my latest one does)! But the One Thing I've avoided doing is buying a 100 shekel a month phone plan that includes a US number! Instead, I've always looked for other, lower cost, options.
I've tried out various video chat software, as well as VOIP services.
So here's what I know about calling the US and getting a FREE U.S. phone number for people to call me on:
MagicApp - I use this one a lot. For about $20 a year, you get your own permanent US phone # (it works on Android and iPhone/iPad as long as you have internet service). We also have one on a device that is the "free App" - we pay nothing for it. This free version of the app can call phones in the US and Canada for free, and each person we call will get a different number that displays for them on their caller ID. BUT they can call us back using that number (it is my dedicated number that works ONLY from that specific line) anytime they want, from that phone line! And for them, it's a local number, so they don't have to pay anything extra to call me! It's a bit annoying not to be able to give out a specific number, but rather to have to call first and have each person save a different number into their phone, but it works!
Another service I've heard a lot about is Talkatone. Apparently, you get a free US phone number and a limited number of free outgoing minutes per month. Incoming calls are always free. It sounds like it's worth checking out!
You can also easily go the The Play Store (or if you have an iPhone, the Apple Store - iPhones are way out of my price range, though!) and check for apps that provide this service and give some of them a try. There are a whole bunch to check out and see which works well for you! A quick search for "free us phone number" on my phone showed these results (and many more):
Let me know if you have a favorite one - I'd love to know which.
I hope this helps some of you out there. I know my family in America is really happy to be able to call a local number to talk to us. I'm sure yours will be too!
P.S. Yes, I finally got a smartphone. But I got a no-name one like this for about $60. It usually does what it should do and I didn't have to spend a fortune on it!