magicJack In Canada - My Review 5 Years Later!

magicJack in Canada review, 5 years laterI first reviewed magicJack more than 5 years ago when I chose it to replace my home phone service while going internet-only.

It was a rocky start - but once I ironed out all the issues the lack of monthly phone bills has been amazing!

Home phone service costs about $30 + tax every month. Five years worth of that is $2,070.

With magicJack, I paid $50 for the original device which came with 12 months of service and cost around $20 per year thereafter + $10 a year for a Canadian phone number (all figures in US Dollars).

A couple of years later, I decided to purchase an upgraded magicJack Plus so I could plug it directly into my router without needing to keep the computer on. That one cost $80 including shipping and offered another 12 months of free service. The price of additional service for the new device rose to $35 per year + $10 for my Canadian number.

All told, I’ve spent $429 CAD at today’s currency conversion rates for devices and service over the last 5 years - an impressive savings of 79% when compared to the cost of a regular home phone.

I also enjoyed big additional savings from the unlimited long distance to Canada & USA included with magicJack and the long list of calling features it has at no extra charge.

magicJack Is Incredibly Simple To Use

There are lot of options out there when it comes to voice over IP phone calling - gonevoip has a great list here - but few of them are cheaper than magicJack. What has kept me using magicJack over the long haul though is not the price, but how simple it is to set up an use.

The original device was revolutionary in that you could plug it into the USB slot of any computer and be using a traditional phone to make free phone calls from anywhere in the world to Canada or the USA within minutes - no other service at the time made it so easy for non-techies.

Today, it’s even easier to use because you can also simply plug it into your router with a standard network cable and your cordless phone system can be running 24/7 just like a normal home phone. Other devices that now offer similar simplicity are Ooma (monthly “taxes and fees” are higher than yearly magicJack cost) and Nettalk - but they are both more expensive initially and monthly.

Related: 5 Ways to Hack Your Cell Phone Bill

Getting The Cost Even Lower

Recently I switched from paying $35 per year to $99 up front for 5 years of service. That works out to $19.80 per year or $1.65 per month. Tack on the $10 for a Canadian number and convert to CAD and my final cost is $3.30 per month.

I held back from switching to the 5 year plan for a long time because I read horror stories from early magicJack users about their device failing and not being able to transfer the remaining time on their 5 year subscription to a new device.

Since then, magicJack has changed their policy and now allow you to do this by contacting customer support after purchasing a new device so I’m no longer afraid to commit. I also now have to spend less time renewing the service every year.

How Good Is The Quality?

I stand by my original statement that the quality is “probably superiour to that of a typical cell phone conversation”. I do occasionally get someone on the other end tell me that I am cutting out, but the problem usually goes away within seconds and things are back to normal.

I also had a persistent issue with call volume being just a little too low even when I maxed out the volume on my cordless phone system. It was good enough - just annoying if there was a lot of noise in the room.

I recently purchased a new 4 handset cordless system from VTech and now the volume is much better. As long as you have a cordless system with good volume, you too should be fine.

Bottom line: if you have a reasonably fast internet connection - you should experience good quality.

Doubling Down On magicJack

I’ve been so happy with magicJack that I decided to purchase a magicJack Go to use as my business line about a year ago. I don’t make a lot of business calls so it is fine for a primary line with my cell phone as a backup.

It’s been working flawlessly since day one with absolutely no glitches - simply plug and play.

Just last month, I purchased another one for my partner to use as her business line and I’m about to set it up in the next few days. I expect a similarly smooth experience with this one too.

Technical Support Can Be Frustrating

There are plenty of negative individual reviews online for magicJack if you look hard enough. Most of them can be traced back to one thing - frustrating customer support.

They only offer one form of support - live online chat - which can be annoying to use because it is a slow way to communicate.

I’ve had to use this service myself quite a few times with my first device and I can confirm it was less than ideal. The support is essentially low paid people telling you a set of robotic instructions, repeating the same things often, and not really answering all your questions directly.

I feel like my most recent interactions have been more positive - the support has improved over time. They do have a reasonably good system for escalating calls and most of the time they will eventually solve your problem. It still is no frills support though. Frankly, they can’t afford to offer premium support for such an inexpensive product.

Even with basic support, magicJack still receives an average 4-star or higher customer rating at most online stores that sell it. The same thing can’t be said for many of its competitors.

Bottom line: combining the power of Google search, internet forums, and their chat support together should help you solve most issues you might encounter. Thankfully, the chances of encountering an issue today is much less than it was 5 years ago.

Related: Long Distance Is Cheap: Are You Paying Too Much?

Is magicJack Right For You?

Honestly, magicJack is a great option for reducing your home and long distance costs.

Even if you are cell phone only, it helps reduce your usage so you could choose a lower cell phone package that will save you money.

It’s great for relatively low-tech people too which is a huge bonus. You should just be able to plug it into your computer, follow the registration steps, and start using the device right away.

If you're looking for another option, My Own Advisor wrote his review of Fongo after he cut his landline.

The one caveat I have is to not use it as your primary phone or for a line where reliability is incredibly important. You can hook it up with 911 service in Canada, but I wouldn’t rely on it in an emergency.

If you have internet problems of any kind, your phone will stop working. Just be aware of that and and have a backup plan. Even a cheap prepaid cell phone that costs $100 a year would work well as a backup.

I recommend purchasing magicJack from a Canadian retailer like Amazon that has a no fuss return policy. You can just box it up and send it back to them if you have problems - they will usually cover return shipping charges if you are unhappy with the product.

See magicJack @ Amazon.ca

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

Hot Credit Card Deals This Month:

  • 30,000 welcome bonus points (worth $300), plus first year free
    • Earn 4 points for every $1 spent on gas, groceries, restaurants and entertainment
    • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent elsewhere
    • Points that can be redeemed for travel - anywhere, anytime, with no restrictions
    • 24/7 Concierge and access to Scotia Rewards Travel Service
    • Low $12,000 minimum income needed
    • Extensive insurance package
  • 25,000 Welcome Bonus Points (worth up to $781), Plus 2X Multiplier
    • Earn 1 point per dollar spent
    • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent at SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels
    • Transfer points to more than 30 airline rewards programs, usually 1:1
    • A free weekend hotel night when you spend $40,000 annually
    • Starwood gold status when you spend $30,000 annually
  • Earn 4 times the Cash Back for 4 Months
    • Earn 4% cash back for your first 4 months (up to $125)
    • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases after 4 months
    • Choose when you redeem your rewards
    • No limits on cash back earned
    • No annual fee
  • Not sure which credit card is for you? Take this short quiz and find out

Comments

beeknight
beeknight's picture

I've been use Freephoneline.ca (powered by Fongo) for a coupe of years. Paid an initial $50 (now they are charging $79.95) to get my VOIP profile and didn't have to pay anything afterwards. You'll need to have your own VOIP adapter and phone -- they don't provide any hardware.

October 18, 2016 @ 9:51 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
I'm pretty sure it is no longer free for new customers. Correct me if I am wrong.
October 18, 2016 @ 9:54 am
Louis
Louis's picture

I subscribed to voip.ms since last summer. The difference with magicJack and FreePhoneLine is that you can customize almost every parameter. Once you try any of these services you discover that you paid too much for years and you'll never come back to a standard phone line.

October 18, 2016 @ 10:46 am
Susan
Susan's picture

But if the power goes off, you have no phone?

October 18, 2016 @ 11:05 am
Lee
Lee's picture

It rings your cell phone if you have the app installed.

October 18, 2016 @ 11:20 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

That's a good point Lee - I used the app for a bit on my cell phone but I find I mostly don't need it. It does work really well though to ring your home phone and cell phone at the same time.

There's also the voice mail that is deliver by email if you miss a call.

October 18, 2016 @ 11:48 am
dougo13
dougo13's picture

Still can't get a number in the 807 area code 5 years on. Could have switched to VoIP when I switched ISPs recently but decided to keep the land line even though it's $15 more expensive per month. Once you switch, if you are dissatisfied, you can't switch back so you may be stuck with an inferior experience forever. I have used Free Phone Line and other services in the past and didn't like them. Closest area code is Fort Frances, so even local calls are long distance! Just not working for me...

October 18, 2016 @ 11:14 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

magicJack has more area codes than some other services do. I used to check them frequently when my area code wasn't available. There are definitely still some area codes that aren't available though like yours.

October 18, 2016 @ 11:51 am
Lee
Lee's picture

Great article. What's the difference between magicjack.com and magicjackcanada.com?

October 18, 2016 @ 11:15 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

magicjackcanada.com is just a reseller of the device. They aren't owned by magicJack. magicjack.com is the official site. I'd still suggest buying from a Canadian retailer like Amazon.ca to get easier and cheaper returns if you decide you don't like how it works for some reason.

October 18, 2016 @ 11:53 am
Sheryl Smolkin's picture

Can I retain my current phone number with magic jack?

October 18, 2016 @ 11:36 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

In most cases, yes as long as your number is in a supported area code.

October 18, 2016 @ 11:54 am
Cheryl
Cheryl's picture

Our house security/alarm system is connected to our land line in the event of a break in. It is a monitored system so if a break in occurs, the system automatically dials out to the monitoring service. Will Magic Jack work for this?

October 18, 2016 @ 12:27 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I'm not sure on this one - there are conflicting reports. I think it might work but I wouldn't recommend it because magicJack I don't think magicJack should be used for emergency purposes.

October 18, 2016 @ 2:35 pm
sanichtonian
sanichtonian's picture

Just to mention that the fongo home phone (and fongo app) has a setting in the web interface that allows you to set up a 'simultaneous ring' with any other phone number, so that, if you have a cell phone, it will ring when anyone phones your fongo home phone. This also works when the power is out. It also means that I give out my home phone number only, as my cell catches all calls to it.

I have my fongo home phone handle voice messaging as well, so that if I do not want to answer my cell when I am 'out and about', it takes any message and forwards it to my email, which i can collect on my cell phone when connected to wifi ( I don't 'do' data on the cell). My next step is to pare my cellphone bill down to about $50.00 (prepaid 140Mins) a year when my present annual 'pay as you go' with rogers expires next month (50%+ saving).

And yes Stephen, the freephoneline is still free (except long distance) after initial setup. the only catch I am aware of is that there is a $35.00 fee if you use it to call 911. This is not the case with the paid fongo home phone.

October 18, 2016 @ 1:08 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Ok - I see what happened now. They basically turned freephoneline.ca into a giant advertisement for the Fongo phone service. The free service is still available - it just isn't as obvious how you get started with it.

If someone can confirm who has signed up and activated it recently that would be great.

October 18, 2016 @ 2:38 pm
fbgcai
fbgcai's picture

I have been using MJ for several years - works for me - I especially appreciate the free long distance.

There have been several glitches - all resolved:
- power adapters died several times - used an old Apple one lying around - works
- unit fried once due to power spike - replaced by MJ for shipping fee ($10?) but took almost 2 weeks to get to me (express delivery - not)
- connecting with some networks can be less than optimal - ATT cell service in US and Distibutrel in Canada come to mind
- if you have poor ISP service this is not for you

pros:
- price vs value is excellent
- missed call voicemails sent to you by email
- free access to the MJ for cell phone app (when in range of wifi) - very useful when out of country or even off continent - used it to phone home from SE Asia - no roaming charges! :)

having a backup device is definitely a good idea - prepaid cell service with 7/11 speakout is ~25/yr. and I have an agreement with my neighbour to use his wifi (cell app) should I need it (reciprocally he can access mine)

net- net a good deal

October 18, 2016 @ 1:09 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Thanks for sharing your experience - sounds like yours has been similar to my own.

October 18, 2016 @ 2:41 pm
Ken S
Ken S's picture

May I also humbly suggest OOMA as an option? They have a ton of features including community-sourced telemarketing lists, wifi-based HD Audio handsets, apps and traditional forwarding options for phones, fax support, and you can even buy a Bluetooth adapter so that your cellphone becomes a handset.

They have additional premium features, but their base service costs the price of their base unit plus monthly taxes (about 2.80).

Their base unit is regularly on sale at Costco and amazon as well.

October 18, 2016 @ 1:12 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

If you want endless high tech features, Ooma is the way to go.

October 18, 2016 @ 2:40 pm
Al
Al's picture

Something I didn't see in your article is the use of a fax line with Magic Jack. I still have my landline for this main reason...I'm paying $57 a month for my land line, which of course sucks, but I need a fax for my home office...
Does MJ work with a fax line ? If not, I guess I'm stuck paying this high monthly fee for my land line/fax.

October 18, 2016 @ 3:35 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I believe it can be done Al but I have no experience with it myself as I don't do faxing. I wouldn't expect it to be as smooth as butter though. Try searching for "magicjack fax forum" and see what kind of information you can find.

October 20, 2016 @ 1:52 pm
Doug
Doug's picture

Enjoying the discussion!

How competitive is magic jack or its derivatives for long distance calls to non north American countries like the UK and Guyana?

October 18, 2016 @ 8:21 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I checked out the rates a while back and they are reasonable. I think they are slightly higher than some of the best calling cards and some other VoIP providers. Some services like Skype (I think) allow you to make unlimited calls to real phones for quite low monthly rates. I did a calling card and long distance comparison years ago - but haven't had the chance to update it since then.

https://www.howtosavemoney.ca/Services/LongDistance

October 20, 2016 @ 1:56 pm
Susan
Susan's picture

I have been wanting to get rid of my home line so badly but I don't like the fact the magicjack doesn't work if there is no power and the reply here, "that it will ring to my cell" isn't an option as I don't have a cell phone with a plan for calls.. just $5/mo for texts and some cost that I don't use for a call.... .15 a min. I think it is. (Grandfathered plan at Telus).

It is hard to believe there is no other option using the Bell type of line.

October 18, 2016 @ 9:54 pm
Lee
Lee's picture

well, there is no exact replacement for bell type of line which you can use to power a nightlight :)

October 20, 2016 @ 12:04 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

As long as you can find an open WiFi connection you can receive calls on your phone even if you don't have a data plan. I'm sure you know that, but at least it's something. They will email you a voicemail too if you miss a call so you can pick it up the next time you have a WiFi connection on your mobile phone.

October 20, 2016 @ 1:58 pm
Pascal
Pascal's picture

I'm trying to make my parent save money and I've been looking at VoIP tech for a while but haven't wrapped my head around it yet. What would the best option be if they live six months in Florida and six months in Montreal. Can they let's say buy 2 MJ devices and have 2 local numbers one in Florida and one in Montreal. Then when they are let's say in Florida they can make the Montreal number ring there? Not to sure how configurable the device is.

November 12, 2016 @ 8:36 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

You can certainly do what you said about 2 devices and two numbers.

You can probably rig call forwarding to have one forward to the other number as well when they are out of town - haven't tried that though.

They could get away with one device and just bring it with them if they don't need a local number in both places. Most people have long distance included in their phone packages now anyway so having people call a long distance number isn't always a huge deal.

 

November 14, 2016 @ 10:03 pm
G MacD
G MacD's picture

That is my situation and it works well. I have an MJ+ that I got four years ago for use in Florida with a local Sarasota number. I recently got an MJGo with local Ottawa number. Both are hooked up to a two line AT&T office deskset (plus a Line 1 connection to cordless handsets for rest of house use). I take both MJs with me when I change residences and plug them in to the router. That way I always have the ability to offer year-round "local calling service" to our friends in both cities. On the deskset I use Line 1 for the "local" line (and cordless handsets) and Line 2 for the "foreign" line.

May 01, 2017 @ 9:52 pm
Andrzej
Andrzej's picture

I can't believe no one discussed Freephoneline.ca PLUS OBi200 or 202 ATA. OBi200 can be had for around $50 when on sale (Newegg.ca). Freephoneline service -one time fee of around $90 plus $25 to port your own phone number (if you wish). One time expense of $140 -165 and you never have to pay again for your phone service. Free calls to 95% of Canada (some very small towns require a paid service). If you combine it with Google Voice number you will be able to call anywhere in North America for free.

November 21, 2016 @ 12:45 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

It's a great option - but personally I prefer easier setup, lower upfront cost, and small ongoing expense to get access to all of Canada and the USA without any worries of extra cost.

November 27, 2016 @ 3:25 pm
David O.
David O.'s picture

We currently have two cells phones and high speed internet with Bell Canada. One phone I use and the other for my wife. I very seldom take mine outside of the house so I'm thinking "Magic Jack Go" would be a good replacement for me.

My concern though is what if my wife is out with her phone and I need to call 911? How reliable would that be?

December 01, 2016 @ 10:53 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

magicJack offers 911 service, but I wouldn't call it reliable. I've never tested it myself and you need to make sure your address is updated in the  magicJack system so emergency responders will go to the right address.

If your internet goes out or the magicJack servers go down (never experienced that myself) then you would be out of luck.

You could try getting a prepaid cell phone to carry around with you where you pay $100 per YEAR to get a chunk of minutes you use throughout the year. Basically for emergencies only. Your balance should carry over each year as well if you don't use use it.

December 05, 2016 @ 1:16 pm
Leo Blanchard
Leo Blanchard's picture

I am consedering MagicJack as a phone service for the cotage. In a thread in 2011 you mentioned that area code 506 was not available for MagicJack. Is this still true?

December 30, 2016 @ 8:25 am
ellen
ellen's picture

Is text message available for magicjack on Canadian number?

January 16, 2017 @ 3:13 pm
Eddy
Eddy's picture

Texting is currently only available to US numbers, in the US. Canadian numbers will not receive texts.However, Canadian's using a free US number will sometimes work, but its hit and miss along the border. I'm sure MJ is working on making texting for us Canucks available as we speak.

March 09, 2017 @ 3:00 pm
Gerrie
Gerrie's picture

I bought the Magic jack service over 1.5 years through the Magic Jack Canada site (Big MISTAKE) ago and hardly used the service as it was very affordable to sign up for a year.

So before I knew it a year was up and so I subscribed for another 2 years as it was so much more affordable to it that way then to just sign up for a year.

Long story short I have had nothing but issues with this dam service, The Company who sold it “Magic Jack Canada” turns out the guy works out of his house (one man show) and he is just too happy in taking your money and he has no ability to provide any kind of technical support.

Upon further investigation it turns out I am subscribed to a company called NetTalk who has no ability in providing any kind of technical support (third party vender to another company I have yet to determine, You need to communicate through a chat session with no ability to speak to anyone live on a phone, they take forever to come back to you and have very little ability to troubleshoot any kind of issue.

Call quality sucks and I can’t get this resolved I have another 18 months left on the device I paid for I want a refund on the remaining year and I can’t reach anyone. I am just being ignored like a stop sign. No one answers my chats, I cant call anyone and no one calls me back to have this resolved.

I am so sick of these fly by nights who con people in paying for a service they can’t use…
So I am now looking at opening a case with CCTS as I am not getting any response from anyone.
Be aware of Magic Jack and stay away… Horrible business practices.

February 13, 2017 @ 12:12 pm
Julie
Julie's picture

I have been using MagicJack since 2012 and have been convincing friends and family to switch over to it since 2015 (I gave it a 3 year trial to ensure the service was trustworthy)

My Former Costs
Rogers Canada Home phone $57 per month (incl tax) with no long distance
Long distance card $15 every 6 months
6 year total: $4284CDN

MagicJack Costs
Device + 1 year service $70CDN (incl tax - bought at The Source Canada) [one time cost]
Canadian number $13.50CDN ($10US) per year
5 years service $134CDN ($99US)
6 year total: $285CDN

Savings: $3999 = over $600 per year CDN in my pocket.

The only issues I have ever had are the following:
In 2012 you couldn't port your existing Canadian number but you can now (may depend on area code)
In 2014 there was interference on my line (callers heard a beep as if I was dialing a number) - this was resolved in a 20 minute phone call to the MagicJack.com helpline.
In 2015 the power adapter stopped working but after contacting MagicJack, I received a replacement (at no cost, not even for shipping) within a week - in the interim I just used a spare one from my cell.
Since the introduction of the app for android I have had it installed but I would not rely on this for my only MagicJack connection. The app doesn't always pick up the incoming calls but it has never failed me for using it to make outgoing calls.

I have never lost MagicJack service in my home at the fault of the MagicJack company excluding the temporary issue with the adapter which was resolved in moments. I have the app on my cell phone to cover off any lost internet connection in the house.

Yes, you occasionally have to wait to get a live person on the phone for MagicJack service BUT I have waited A LOT longer every single time I ever had to call Rogers for anything! Good service is NOT something you get from the big telecoms just because you pay them more.

Four months ago I switched my mother over to MagicJack and even with the expense of having to now pay for 5mbps internet service (no, she didn't have any before!) it still saves her over $25per month and works wonderfully. She is 76 and very pleased that she is now more tech savvy than her neighbors. The porting of her home phone number took 6 business days to complete which was a bit of a pain but she has said it was definitely worth the small delay and her favorite feature is receiving her messages in her email.

I really can't recommend this enough. Phone companies should be ashamed of themselves for gouging customers.

May 01, 2017 @ 1:15 pm
Joe
Joe's picture

I'm actively considering MJ, but I'll have to admit I'm on a phone modem and paying $5 to gain access to the internet through my phone line (phone service is $30 per month, no caller ID but includes Dinstictive Ring or Smart Ring for the two numbers we have on the same line, and we rarely make long distance calls which are 5 cents per minute). Since I use the internet mostly to check my e-mail, speed is not a major concern. However, if I were to purchase MJ, then I would rely on the cable line rather than the phone line for both my internet and my phone. On the upside, I will have faster internet but I'm not sure if the overall per-month cost will be cheaper since I'll quite likely be paying more for internet access through the cable company. So my question is: what kind of internet speed do I need in order to have respectable performance on MJ, and will I still be able to have Smart Ring (the phone will ring differently depending on which of my two numbers the caller dialled)?

July 24, 2017 @ 9:52 am
JOAN
JOAN's picture

I am thinking of re-connecting the old MagicJack that I have had for a few years. I plugged it in and it seems to work OK. Do you recommend a get the updated version or am I good with the one I've got. Also, do all my extensions ring in my home when a call comes in? Is the cost $35 US or $35 Cnd?

August 18, 2017 @ 5:49 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I'd recommend one you can plug directly into your router instead of your computer (that started with the magicJackPlus). Anything newer than the original model should be fine.

If you have a cordless phone system plugged into magicJack, then all extensions will ring at once. If you have a smartphone, you can also get the magicApp and then it will ring on your smartphone as well as long as you have an internet connection on it at the time of the call.

August 21, 2017 @ 9:06 pm