The Truth About Magic Jack

by Tim on December 8, 2012

What is Magic Jack?

Magic Jack is an Internet based telephone service. It works by using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) through an active high-speed Internet connection. The tiny devices connect to servers to send and receive phone calls using the user’s own Internet connection. The new Magic Jack devices do not require them to be directly connected to a computer that must be left on. However, they do still require a working Internet connection for the devices to function. The new devices are capable of plugging directly into a broadband router or modem. magic jack review

How Does Magic Jack Work?

Magic Jack’s fee structure is for consumers to buy a device and “get service for life” for as little as $19.95 per year for unlimited calls. The first year of service is included in the device price. The devices are tiny and have a jack to plug in a regular phone. The way the company continues to make enough money to stay in business, only charging what amounts to a couple of dollars per month for phone service, is through advertising.

The consumer pays the annual fee and agrees to receive targeted advertising. Those concerned about privacy may want to closely look at the end user license agreement (EULA). Computer technology is easily advanced enough to snoop out keywords in phone conversations or to learn what business numbers you are calling to be able to send targeted advertising to your email address.

If you are not concerned about the advertising or how the information is gathered to target ads to you and others using your phone, then Magic Jack could possibly be one of the least expensive phone service providers available. However, keep in mind that you need a working broadband Internet connection for the VOIP to work. Cable and DSL should suffice, but satellite users will use up their data allotment. Depending on connection speed for satellite users, the call quality may also suffer.


Is Magic Jack Worth It?

For the price, Magic Jack for home use sounds good. However, you may get the same service free from your cable company Internet provider for up to a year for just signing up under a bundled promotion. If you like to travel with VOIP and a laptop, Magic Jack may be just the ticket. If you do not want the advertising, consider another VOIP provider. They are likely to cost more, but their EULA may not include things many consumers may find questionable. If you do decide to go with Magic Jack, be sure to read the license agreement in its entirety.

Making 911 Calls on Magic Jack


For 911 calls and overall reliability, nothing beats a standard home phone line from the phone company. Magic Jack is providing VOIP service similar to what Vonage and even your local cable company is offering. However, it only works when the power and the Internet are on. Phone company lines work even when the power is out because the system has a battery backup in place. If phone service is desired at an extreme low cost, then a VOIP provider such as Magic Jack may be perfect for you. However, remember that you must maintain high-speed Internet access for VOIP to work.

If you’re looking to buy Magic Jack, consider purchasing it on Amazon at a discount.  You can expect to pay about $80 for the Magic Jack device.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason Clayton | frugal habits December 9, 2012

Nice write up Tim. I’ve seen magic jack on TV in commercials and have never looked into it. Essentially I don’t have a home phone (use my cell) so I usually ignore and offers for home phone service.

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SS December 22, 2012

Hi Tim, thanks for the article on Magic Jack. I have been a huge fan of the Magic Jack Plus and have been using it for over a year at my house. You can’t go wrong with a $20 annual phone bill compared to the $33 my cable company was charging once the first year “triple-play” deal expired. I have since installed Magic Jack at my parents, aunts, and uncles houses – all with no issues. If you travel between homes frequently, as my parents and aunts do as they are retired, using the Magic Jack App on a phone or tablet is great.

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Rich - MoneyWisePastor December 23, 2012

We got Magic Jack Plus last April and we’ve been very pleased.

My wife and I wanted to cut back on home phone bills, but we have 5 kids ages 6-16, so we didn’t want to just rely on our cell phones alone. We wanted to have some kind of home phone.

Like Jason mentioned in his comment, I had seen the Magic Jack commercials for a long time and was interested in trying it but didn’t want to have to leave my computer on all the time.

I was very glad to discover Magic Jack Plus, which is a small device that plugs into an electric outlet and connects your phone to your wireless router.

We’ve noticed no difference in call quality at all, and have saved $500 a year on phone service with Magic Jack Plus.

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Bill Williams September 14, 2013

Recently, MJ notified us we would have to pay an annual fee for 911 service. I didn’t subscribe and later tried to make a 911 call but it didn’t go thru. I set up the 911 service (home address, etc) earlier in the year and used it successfully once. (My wife is an EMS frequent flyer!) Do you have any info on this added fee?

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