Is Visual Voicemail Free?

After recently browsing the NoContracts forum on Reddit, I noticed a post in which one user mentioned that he was being charged $2.99 per month for using the Verizon Visual Voicemail app.

This was astounding to me since I have never even heard of such a thing as cell phone companies charging for visual voicemail, I always just assumed it was free since that is the case with my current carrier Republic Wireless and my previous carrier AT&T when using an iPhone. Since I just wrote an article on cell phone company scams such as fee cramming, I’ve decided to investigate the question: Is visual voicemail free or not, and what are the visual voicemail costs for the different mobile phone companies that do charge for it.

What Is Visual Voicemail?

First let me clarify what is visual voicemail before we precede. Visual voicemail is basically when you go into the calls section of your smartphone and a list of your voice messages is displayed. From this list you can typically tap whatever message you want to listen to and decide what the next action is whether to call back, delete, or save it.

The whole point is that it is a much easier way to manage voicemails than the old archaic system of calling in a number to “check your messages” while navigating through arduous levels of recorded menu directories, making sure that you are pressing the correct numbers so that you don’t delete a message instead of save it.

Verizon Visual Voicemail Cost

Regarding the Reddit forum post I talked about, here is the screenshot taken by the user which shows Verizon’s attempt at getting him or her to sign up for the $2.99 per month service.

verizon visual voicemail activation screen

Now I don’t know about you but $2.99 a month is a bit much for a voice mail service in my opinion, especially for a service that is offered free on other phone carriers. To me this reeks of phone bill cramming and likely just another way for Verizon to nickel and dime its own customers.

I decided to poke around the Verizon website to confirm these costs and get a little more information. On this page of the Verizon site it does indeed confirm that the VVM costs are $2.99 along with a description of what the service includes. However, I noticed that people who have iPhones were not being charged for VVM on Verizon. Further investigation showed this Question & Answer from a Verizon customer service rep:

Question:
Why do I have to now pay for Visual V-Mail when I had it for free on my iPhone?

Answer:
Thanks for asking such a great question. Visual Voicemail is the primary way to check your voicemail on iPhones. Apple’s voicemail server is strictly off of data. The feature is free, although it does use data. The Visual Voicemail Feature on other devices does come with a cost of $2.99 since this is still tied in with our voicemail platform. I hope this helps.

Ah ha! Well this would explain why iPhone users don’t get charged for visual voicemail services. Apple seems to provide that service for free regardless of what cell phone carrier you are using. However, it is rather disappointing knowing that if you wanted to switch to another type of device such as a Samsung Galaxy or Motorola Moto X for example, you’d get hit with an extra fee!

We already know that Verizon is screwing their customers for VVM, lets take a look at what some of the other mobile phone companies charge for their voicemail services.

T-Mobile Visual Voicemail Cost

According to T-Mobile’s website, their VVM app is currently free to use for all subscribers. The app needs to be downloaded from the Google Play store if you are using an Android based device and is available to those with both the flat monthly rate plans or with prepaid plans.

One caveat is that charges may still apply when using the app for initiating calls, texts, and emails.

Downloading and using VVM is free. Calls, texts, and emails initiated from the Visual Voicemail application are charged according to your rate plan.

The T-Mobile VVM app looks like this:

t mobile vvm app

AT&T Visual Voicemail Cost

AT&T is my previous mobile service provider before switching to Republic Wireless, however during all the years I was with them I never had a VVM fee, although this is likely due to only using iPhones which provide their own VVM service for free. But lets take a look if Android and other phone OS systems get charged.

After extensive browsing of AT&Ts support documents, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that they charge for visual voicemail for Android, Windows, or other types of phone users. It says the following though:

Data and messaging used in replying to and forwarding voicemail messages via messaging or email are counted against your data and/or messaging plan, and applicable charges apply if data and/or messaging plan limits are exceeded. International voice, data, and messaging charges apply to receiving, replying to, and forwarding voicemail messages while roaming internationally.

I decided to call the AT&T customer service line to confirm what, if any of the VVM costs might be. The explanation I received was that all of the new cell phone plans include AT&T visual voicemail for free, however it may be the case that older plans that were grandfathered in to the unlimited data plans for example could still be paying a VVM fee.

So if you are an older AT&T customer using a non iPhone device then it might be a good idea to check if you are being charged this monthly fee or not.

The AT&T VVM app looks like this:

ATT Visual Voicemail App

Sprint Visual Voicemail Cost

The Sprint support web pages are pretty vague on the costs and fees associated with their VVM service and on first look it appears that it is free for all users. Just to be safe, I contacted their customer support by chat this time and here is the conversation I had:

Me:Hello Derrick
Me:I was hoping you could help me clarify some information regarding costs for Sprint’s visual voicemail service?
Derrick:Yes.
Derrick:I’ll be glad to help you.
Derrick: Visual Voicemail is free and included on supported phone.
Me:Does that apply to all phones including Adroid and Windows based phones?
Derrick:It’s not compatible for all the phones. However, it’s compatible for the maximum Adroid and Windows based phones
Me:I see thanks. Also, I notice that there is some type of voicemail transcription service that seems to be separate from the VVM service, is there any costs associated with that?
Derrick:Premium Visual Voicemail to Text service cost $2.99
Me:Ok thanks that is good to know. Do have a link to your site that describes the features associated with Premium VVM compared to the basic VVM?
Derrick:Let me look into it.
Derrick:http://support.sprint.com/support/service/category/Visual_Voicemail-Visual_Voicemail?question_box=Sprint visual voicemail&id16=Sprint visual voicemail
Derrick:You can visit above link to check the details.
Me:Cool, thanks you’ve been very helpful!
Derrick:You are welcome.

As you can see from the conversation, basic visual voicemail is free, however they do have a premium visual voicemail to text service that does cost $2.99 per month, so that is something to look out for.

36 comments

  1. You are awesome! Thank you for all your work and effort to light the path for the rest of us, especially since a majority of carriers are rife with misrepresentation and outright chicanery to confuse the customer and line their pockets with no qualms in doing so.

  2. Verizon Wireless used to provide VVM free if you had a MyVerizon account (online account that you managed your Verizon Wireless account from). Can you tell if it is still provided free for MyVerizon subscribers? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sue,

      I’ve done a little bit of digging and from what I can tell, Verizon offers two types of VVM to MyVerizon subscribers. There is Basic Visual Voicemail that shows a list of voice messages in your phone that appears to be free. There is also a Premium VVM service for MyVerizon which has more storage and advanced features like voicemail-to-text that costs $2.99 per month.

      Hope that answers your question.

  3. I changed to t-mobile 2 days ago. When I saw the visual voice mail I figured I’d been slammed.. Was just about to call dreaded customer service when I saw your article Thank you

    1. Hi Luis,

      Glad my article helped. Fortunately, it seems that T-Mobile has been getting a lot better lately in regards to offering its customers quality service without adding in all kinds of hidden fees like we often see with AT&T and Verizon. This is likely due to their extremely competitive mission they’ve been on over the last year and it seems that the consumers are benefitting greatly from the competition.

  4. Sorry but I don’t believe your information is correct about Apple paying for VVM. I believe it is carrier specific. When I switched my iPhone from AT&T to Straight Talk, I LOST VVM. There was no way to get it back since Straight Talk doesn’t support it whether you an iPhone or not.
    Now that I’m off contract with T-Mobile and looking to back to a ‘real’ network like ATT or Verizon, I’ve learned that the pre-paid services at Verizon do NOT included VVM whether you have an iPhone or not. But one can pay $5/month for the service. AT&T Prepaid does included VVM and more importantly, so does Cricket Wireless.

    1. Hi Froggy,

      Thanks for the information. I have not heard of any iPhone users not being able to use their VVM regardless of their service so this is news to me, but I will be sure to do some research on the matter and update the article as necessary.

      Thanks again for the feedback.

  5. Hi

    I have T Mobile and voice to text is not free on my android phone. If it us then that is news to me and U would love to get it.

    Yes T Mobile’s visual voice mail is free, but, the free version does not include voice to text past the first month introduction. For voice to text after the first month, T Mobile charges a monthly fee, each month. I wish it was free but it isn’t now when I checked. It wasn’t free as dar back as October 2014 when I first looked unto it.

    1. Hi Grant,

      When I originally wrote this article I did my best to research and find out what the costs of T-Mobile’s Voice to text service but unfortunately their online documentation did not provide that information. It seems that the current cost/fee model for most of the big carriers is to provide the basic Visual Voicemail for free and then charge an additional fee for the voice-to-text services.

      If you could let me know how much T-Mobile is charging you for the voice-to-text service, I’ll be sure to update my information in the article above so as to warn other people of this possible monthly fee.

      Thanks for providing that tip 🙂

  6. Hi, I’m curious what you mean when you say visual voicemail is free on your republic wireless phone. I have republic too. I can see who called and who left voicemails, but as far as transcribing the voicemails so I can see them in text form and delete them without having to dial into my voicemail, I have not found a free way to do that with republic other than with google voice which I am not a huge fan of because I”ve found there are a lot of glitches when we used it at work. What exactly do you mean when you say you have free visual voicemail with the republic? THANKS!

    1. Hi 0,

      When I talk about Visual Voicemail, what I mean is when you can look at your phone and see a list of messages in your voicemail inbox which you can tap and then listen to; as opposed to having to call into a voice mailbox and navigate through an audio menu.

      From what you describe it sounds like you do have visual voicemail, which is pretty standard on most smart phones and services these days.

      The service that you don’t have, which is transcribing audio voicemails into text is called “Voice-to-Text” and you are right it is not offered with Republic Wireless as far as I know, but when wireless companies do offer it, it typically is an extra monthly fee to use it.

      Hope that helps to clarify 🙂

    2. I have learned that the visual voicemail, voice-to-text service with T-Mobile is $3.99 per month

  7. For those with iPhones, perhaps this list will help: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204039

    It lists which companies and MVNO’s support certain features, like Visual Voicemail. Still do your research though, Straight Talk is listed as offering V/V, but the company is saying it does not. (I have no idea if this is related to iOS, APN, or phone models.)

    I switched to H2o Wireless a week ago and was completely surprised it didn’t offer V/V. I thought it simply was an iPhone feature – one of the reasons I decided to keep an iPhone instead of switching to Android and paying extra for the feature. I’m not decided yet if I’ll be keeping the service or switching again.

    1. Hi Stacy,

      Thanks for that link, definitely useful to check. It seems it might be just for apple products, though I can imagine if a provider supports visual voicemail for iPhones then they likely would support it for their Android as well.

  8. Just upgraded my phone to a Samsung S5 and this is what at&t is charging me for vvm: $25 per month! Needless to say, I will have this removed since I won’t or don’t want or use.

  9. I was just looking over my AT&T bill and noticed I’m being charged $40.00-$25.00 mobile share discount, for visual voicemail. So $15.00 a month. From what others are saying, doesn’t this seem high?

    1. Me also which is crazy because the two kids do not use voicemail they only text! AT&T is charging me $40 (-25) for each phone line! And they say I cannot remove or change it to basic voicemail.

  10. My entire monthly bill with Boost mobile $30 and I have iPhone with vvm. Why are other carriers charging so much for features that come with phone ?

  11. Oh they call it T-Mobile calls it Premium Voicemail. Even if you have android apps for the same thing on smart phone. There has to be a free
    Service somewhere on the internet highway! Unless I get an apple phone!

  12. Just signed up for Verizon Visual Basic service for FREE, then I called a few weeks later to find out its a Free trial to Premium Visual Voicemail. You use to be able to use the app to call VM with the Data off, now you get an error and cannot get your VM without data on. Only way to access analog VM is with Data on, hence using Data for a FREE telephone call. I have lodged a complaint with FCC, this is considered Slamming in the phone industry, Not to mention its APP that is suppose to be a feature that was FREE, also upon sign up it was FREE for Basic, then $2.99 for Premium

  13. Obviously I missed the boat somewhere… I have an iPhone 6 and pay $40/month from att for vvm according to my billing statement. My wife has the latest Samsung smart phone and pays it also. Any ideas?

    1. There’s a difference in the cost of 2 features. The feature including voice to text is the one with the fee and the basic visual voicemail which is visual only in the sense of an index should be complimentary as it is in T-Mobile.

      Timothy

  14. Has anyone found a Visual Voicemail app that works with Consumer Cellular Service? Does Mobile data have to be enabled 24/7 for the app to work? Consumer Cellular Customer Service has been of no help at all.

  15. I found this site by googling. I called AT&T today. I wanted information why my bill was so high. My husband and I had basic flip phones and I own an iPad mini. In July I bought an iPhone6splus. I paid the tax on the phone up front and am paying 28.34 a month to pay off the phone with AT&T. Our latest bill is double what is was in June. My husband is still using his flip phone ($10 per month) and no charge for voicemail. I still use my ipad (I pay monthly for that) but went from 3 gig to 5 gig of data to share with my iPhone with rollover minutes. I pay $50 per month for that.

    I was going through the bill and asked what the visual voicemail was. I was told it allowed me to forward a voicemail??? Who would forward a voicemail? It also lets me see who is calling. This feature costs 40.00 a month. I said I did not want the visual voicemail, just the regular voicemail. He put me on hold again to get more info and returned to say he will take off the visual feature but it would still cost me 40.00 I said if I am not going to use it why should I pay for it. He responded with “it is like going to McDonalds and getting a combo and not eating the fries” After I quietly but firmly told him I would make sure I put this information out for all to see, I said “give me back the combo”.

    I suppose I could go without any voicemail at all, and I may do that eventually. I will talk to customer service tomorrow. I am also being charged 7.99 a month for insurance for the loss,wet damage and a few other things. The agent in the AT&T store didn’t ask me if I wanted it, at least I don’t remember him asking.

    My 91.11 bill is now doubled to $180.+ including the ridiculous taxes added on.

    Sorry for rattling on but thank you for posting this.

  16. My hubby and I never get voicemails, except for an occasional solicitor call, and we are charged $30 a month on our iPhones. If we don’t use it why pay for it? Everybody needs to report this! I feel it is a scam like insurance… Don’t force something on me!

  17. I uninstalled the T-Mobile visual voicemail after receiving a notification about the end of 30-day trial. After reading this article, I re-install and started to use it again. However, I did go to the Visual Voicemail and turn off the following: Voicemail to text, Send as SMS, Send as Email. The only thing turned on is: Visual Voicemail. Hope that will do the trick.

  18. Thanks for clearing some things up on this and I’ll make a brief synopsis for Tmobile customers from my experience:

    1. Basic VVM seems to be free for all phones, Android and iPhone. App allows you to see a list of VMs and you can press the play button to listen (no words or text here).
    2. Basic VVM for iPhone seems to also include voice to text feature, as well. This is where the text of the call is shown below the VM in the app. I had an iPhone 7 for about 12 days and this feature worked. I don’t however know if it is free going forward or if TMO would eventually charge after a time period, as I didn’t keep the phone long enough to know.
    3. Basic VVM with Premium options like voice to text, forward VMs, etc, seems to be charged for Android phones as a monthly fee. I’m guessing there are a few Premium features for the iPhone above voice to text that TMO would charge for. I will call on the V to T feature for Android to verify as I’d like the voice to text feature but not if have to pay for it.

    So, VVM can be a little tricky at first to understand, IMO, if you are thinking you will see visual text. That part is either included for something like iPhone or a probable charge for Android.

  19. Att is charging us $40 per line for VVM. When we protested, we were told the voice messages were free but to access them it costs $40!

  20. Correction- AT&T DOES charge for VVM. I am looking at my bill, and am getting billed monthly $30 for access. iPhones are already equipt with the feature.

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