We will be removing our T-Mobile SIM card and installing a Czech SIM card. Can we use call forwarding to receive any voicemails or text to our T-Mobile number?
You will pay for international calls if you do this.
You can install Google Hangouts on your phone (assuming it is a smart phone) to make free calls to US numbers, including your T-mobile number (and to landlines). When you call from Hangouts, you'll be calling like any other caller; you'd need to hit * (I think) at the voicemail prompt, then enter your access code to retrieve your voicemails. You can try this now before you get to Europe or before switching out your SIM.
If you want calls forwarded to your phone in Europe, you can do that too, if you want, but it's more complicated. You'd need to set up Google Voice too, which gives you an additional phone number that also works with Hangouts. In Hangouts, enable incoming calls. Then calls to your new Google Voice phone number will ring in Hangouts. Finally, set T-Mobile calls to forward to your Google number. (One caveat: if you use your T-Mobile number when setting up Google Voice, afterwards turn OFF call forwarding from Google Voice to your T-Mobile number. Then incoming calls will ring only in Hangouts.)
I might ask why you wish not to use your T-Mobile SIM in Europe? Unless you have a very old, grandfathered plan (or prepaid T-Mobile service) your T-Mobile plan should include a good international roaming plan with free unlimited 2G data, free texting, and 20 cents/minute calls. You can use both Google Hangouts as described above and WiFi Calling (if your phone supports it) to avoid the 20 cents/ minute call fee to call US numbers. Calls to European numbers will not be free, though.
We will be gone for 9 1/2 months. T-Mobile will not allow us to use roaming for that amount of time. We will get a local SIM card, but would still like to be able to check for either texts or voice mail from those who are unaware we are gone.
Any ideas as to how we can check for voicemail or texts are greatly appreciated!
Thanks, Andrew. This sounds confusing, but probably is our best option!
OK, if you will be gone that long, then that makes sense.
I would DEFINITELY do the Google approach with Google Voice too in that case! That way, you can get incoming calls on your phone from the US in Hangouts, and people calling you can just call a US number instead of making an international call to a Czech number.
In fact, I'd go even one step further: port your T-Mobile number to Google Voice! Although Google Voice is free (which includes giving you an additional number, free but you can't pick your own), you can for a one-time $20 fee port your cell number to Google instead. So you could keep your old number and not need to keep paying for service while gone - just that one-time $20 fee. Calls would be all through Google, and in Europe, all through Hangouts.
Yes, it is confusing at first! Try one step at a time and you can figure it out! I'm happy to give you tips if you get stuck; I've been using my Google Voice number as my "regular" number for years. The first thing to do is install Hangouts on your smart phone (also install Hangouts Dialer if you have an Android phone). Install it, then figure out how to make a call to a phone number. Google makes it look like you are just "Hanging out with your friends, doing some fun chats" or whatever - but you can ignore all of that and use it for straight phone calls to real phone numbers.
In the US, Google Voice acts like a forwarding service. If someone calls your Google number, you can forward it to whatever cell number you are currently using. Then whatever cell number you currently have becomes irrelevant - I don't even know what my Sprint number is. I've never given it to anyone - except to Google. When someone calls my Google number, Google forwards the calls to my Sprint number and I answer it like a regular call.
Outside the US, Google's forwarding service may not work - it will forward calls only to regular US numbers. But...you can use Hangouts instead for all calls, and that will work anywhere, as long as you have WiFi and/or mobile data from say a Czech SIM.
Signing up for a Google Voice account and number won't change anything with your existing service - just gives you a second phone number. But porting your T-Mobile number to Google will cancel your T-Mobile service immediately. You'll then need to get new cell phone service! Obviously you could do that the day before you leave. But it would be easier to do this as soon as you've played with the Google stuff and figured out how it works. Cancel T-Mobile, then sign up immediately for some new prepaid service like MetroPCS (owned by T-Mobile)...get a new phone number with your new service, and have Google forward calls to your Google number (which is now...your old T-Mobile number you just ported to Google). Cancel MetroPCS or whatever the day you leave for Czech Republic. Your MetroPCS number is disposable; you kept your old number by porting to Google. Use Hangouts for calls in Europe.
Make sense? ;-) If not - ask! And try Hangouts alone first, to see how it works. Then sign up for Google Voice (which is also a separate app for your phone). One thing at a time. Don't port your number to Google until you've played with this stuff for a bit!
Or, buy a Magic Jack and have your US cell phone number forwarded to it. Any voice mails will be sent to your email address. Download their app to your smart phone or tablet and you’ll be able to see texts and listen to VM when connected to WiFi. Magic Jack “Go” is available from Amazon for $30 and includes 12 months service. When on WiFi overseas you can call US and Canada free.
The Jack does not have to be connected to a computer or router to do this. Mine is in a box in a closet. Only time it needs a connection is when you’re setting up a new one or if you want to use it as a land line. And you can forward any amount of telephone numbers to it.
EDIT: Aalmost forgot. If you go to MagicJack website, price is $35 but you can try it for 30 days and return it if you don’t want it. Play with it at home to see if you like it.
Check out T-Mobile Digits. This free service lets you access your T-Mobile account, including phone, voicemail, and text messages from the browser on any electronic device. (There may be an app for this as well.) It won't forward calls to your overseas number, but you can check in on your T-Mobile account, which may be all you need.
Another approach -- set up a message directing callers to send an email message, which you can read at your leisure during your waking hours. My guess would be that few of your calls in 9-1/2 months would be emergencies, and you could even put in a local number of someone authorized to handle security system alerts, pet illness, and other rapid-response-required items.
I guess the Google approach I've outlined above seems too complicated - but I've been using it for years, at home and when I travel. It's not perfect, but it works quite well, and as I said, I'm happy to explain it in detail. It's certainly the cheapest approach as far as I know, because you don't have to keep paying for US phone service for nine months that you won't use. (OK - T-Mobile lets you pause it for three months but charges you $10 for that.) You can always port your Google number (old T-Mobile number) back to T-Mobile once you get home nine months later.
But it's really nice to get incoming calls on Google Hangouts overseas - for free! And it's nice that people will already have the old cell number so you don't have to give anyone any special instructions to contact you. I can imagine more than one conversation starting with, "No, actually - I'm in Czech Republic for almost a year!" when answering calls from people who didn't realize you were going overseas.
or switch to google fi, and port your t-mobile number over. it's so nice not to ever have to change your SIM card! and it costs the same no matter where you are in the world. you still get google hangouts but it's not complicated, so all your voicemails will come to email, tho you can also pick up the phone since the number will still be live. and anyway most people outside the US use WhatsApp and Line anyway, so it doesn't cost them extra to call you on your US number (so long as you are on WhatsApp or Line, too).
Project Fi ("Google Fi") would be a great choice...if your phone supports it. Many still do not, so unless you want to buy a new phone to use it, might not be ideal for switching from a T-Mobile phone. I think if I were in Europe for nine months, I'd probably want a local phone number myself, with a local SIM.
We decided to try digits because we can access our voice mail and texts from any WiFi. We are only planning to use it to retrieve texts and messages from people who may not realize we’re gone. This seems to be the easiest way. We will use WiFi calling to speak and text with friends back home . Wish us luck!