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I am regularly between the US and Europe, but mainly in Europe. For the past decade, I kept a US phone number with Skype (mainly to keep in touch with elderly family who don’t use FaceTime but also to receive the occasional work call), but this isn’t optimal for two reasons:

  1. The ease of use: the Skype app has to be open on the phone for the call to be answerable (I get notifications of incoming calls on the lock screen, but by the time I click “accept” and the app opens, the call has already been sent to voicemail). Keeping Skype open all the time is a pain and not great for battery life.
  2. The cost: Maintaining this US number isn’t exactly cheap, I think it’s over 100$ / year.

Do any of y’all have an alternative in mind?

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    You may want to check the On Off app, not sure if they have US numbers or what the cost is. There are plenty of VoIP providers you could use with any SIP phone app. There are also some providers that will redirect calls to another number, but that will usually have a per minute cost, especially when redirecting to a mobile number. – jcaron Jul 14 at 10:53
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    I have a (free) google voice number that I use in the UK (using my data connection). – Laconic Droid Jul 14 at 13:39
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You could use Google Voice for this. It allows you to get a US number in an area code of your choosing (some existing numbers can also be transferred to Google Voice, but not all). The Google Voice number itself is free, and there is no ongoing fee, you just pay for outgoing calls to certain numbers (US calls are free). I believe there is a small fee for transferring a number into Google Voice.

Once you have a GV number, you can choose to make VOIP calls with it, or have calls to the GV number forwarded to various other phones. You can also send text messages from GV, and make outgoing calls for reasonable rates. It does require a data connection to work, and there are some limitations (not sure if I'm thinking of all of them, but I think these are the major ones):

  • For some countries, you can only receive texts from their numbers, not send to them (for example, Germany)
  • Some text services do not go through to GV, for example, some of those one time codes that get sent to you when you try to log in to your bank's website
  • You're at Google's whim for the existence of this service. Google has been known to decide to discontinue some services that are actually quite popular
  • Great tip. I set this up with a vpn and haven’t looked back. Thanks!!! – Teusz Jul 22 at 13:30
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if I was you why not just transfer your USA number to the EU SIM card?

Maybe I’m missing something and not understanding your question correctly in which case let me know, but some phones even allow two sims, if I was you and I was living in Europe but wanted to keep my US number I would transfer, one phone one Sim? With Skype and WhatsApp etc you just need data not minutes.

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    AFAIK it's not possible to transfer phone numbers cross-country, so if you are aware of a way to do this please add a link. – nohillside Jul 14 at 15:56
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    @nohillside Perhaps it is just a confused translation of call forwarding. Call forwarding has been a common service on nearly all networks in Europe for several decades. I would assume that most US telephone operators also offer that as a service and why shouldn't it be possible to forward calls to a foreign number? – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jul 14 at 20:27
  • @tor because that would normally be insanely expensive. – JakeDot Jul 15 at 14:09
  • @JakeDot Why should that be insanely expensive? At least here in Europe, call forwarding usually cost the same a regular call to the target number and calls from e.g. Germany to the USA retail for as little as 0.0027 US$/minute, or are often included in flat-fee subscription rates. What would you pay to forward a call from the US to Germany? – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jul 15 at 15:25
  • It seems I was pretty misinformed, sorry about that. I just considered what I would pay for international calls at my own telephone provider and not what specialised providers would charge. – JakeDot Jul 15 at 17:13

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