Google Voice allows users to both make calls and send text messages from a virtual phone number using either a phone or browser. It links to your physical phone number and allows you to make calls to both domestic and international numbers for lower rates than most carriers. As of January 2014, Google Voice is only available to U.S. phone numbers.

Calling Options

You have two options when making a call with Google Voice. The first is to call using the phone linked to your Google Voice account; the second is to use Google Talk by opening Gmail in your browser. Either option allows you to make calls at the same rates. Making Google Voice calls with your phone will use your phone's minutes, if applicable, as well as your Google Voice credit. Calling via Google Talk only uses your credit.

Google Voice Rates

Calling any U.S. or Canadian number is free with Google Voice. The only time it costs you anything to make long distance calls in Voice is if you call using a phone carrier that charges long distance rates. The routing numbers used by Google Voice are not always local to your area code, and thus may incur long distance charges on some landlines. International calls made with Google Voice have variable per-minute rates. These rates are listed on the "International Calling Rates" page (see Resources).

Making a Call

To initiate a call in your browser, open the Google Voice website and click the "Call" button. Enter the phone number you want to call; if you are making an international call, enter the country code before the phone number. Choose the phone to call with -- either a number you have set up with Google Voice or Google Talk. Press "Connect." Google Voice will ring through to the number you selected. Once you answer, Google Voice will call the number. The Google Voice app on either iOS or Android devices also allows you to initiate calls from your smartphone.

Adding Credit to Google Voice

Google Voice uses Google Wallet to manage account credit. Go to the Google Voice website and click the plus-sign icon next to "Credit" on the sidebar. Every new Google Voice account gets 10 cents of credit. Google Voice allows you to add $10 in credit, with the option to auto-renew when your credit drops below $2. You cannot carry more than $70 in credit at any one time.