t-Mobile + GrandCentral = unlimited free calls

I won’t claim I invented this hack. It has been discussed a couple of times on bargain forums but I believe it is not getting the attention it deserves.

My cell phone has long become my primary way of communication and while I do believe we are slowly getting to the point when a phone will become just a VoIP platform and wireless providers will just sell data service so we all can enjoy unlimited voice calls and mobile internet (think WiMax), I also think we are far from being there and this hack brings me one step closer to this goal. Let’s see what combining GrandCentral and t-Mobile in order to get unlimited calls from/to your cell phone is really worth.

How does it work?

First ingredient you need is myFaves which is a t-Mobile feature that allows you to add up to 5 numbers to your “myFaves” list and make free unlimited calls to/from these numbers. If you don’t already have it, it costs extra $10 a month to enable it with your regular service. Alltel has a similar thing called “My Circle” and I believe it is free with any plan over $59.99

Second ingredient is GrandCentral, a service owned by Google which gives you a free local phone number to use as a relay to the other numbers you have. It is a very useful service on its own (I blogged about it last year) but for the purpose of implementing this hack you really only need a subset of the functionality it provides.

Steps to implement the hack

Inbound calling

  1. Sign up for an account at GrandCentral. You will need an invitation for that. I have several that I can give to the first people who reply to this post.
  2. Add the phone number you get from GrandCentral to your myFaves list (or My Circle if you use Alltel).
  3. Configure GrandCentral to redirect all calls to your cell phone number.
  4. Change GrandCentral Caller ID settings to “Display my GrandCentral number”. Now every time you get a call to your GrandCentral number it will be treated by t-Mobile as if you received a call from GrandCentral and counted against the pull of unlimited myFaves minutes.

Outbound calling

There are really two ways you can implement unlimited outbound calling. First is to ask your friends call your GrandCentral number and leave a short message. Once you have them all, you can listen to them by calling your GrandCentral number. One of the options GrandCentral offers as you are listening to a message is to return the call. So when you want to call one of your friends, simply call your GrandCentral number, skip to your friend’s voice mail message and then select “Return the call” option from the phone keypad.

This will work well if you have relatively few friends and becomes really inconvenient if the list of your friends grows.

The alternative way is to use Yak4Ever which is a free service (read about it here) that lets you register up to 10 numbers and call them for free. If this is the way you want to go then you will have to add Yak4Ever number to your myFaves list as well.

I have not had much experience with Yak4Ever but it did seem to have worked the last time I used them and the voice quality was decent.

Update: Just as I wrote this, Yak4ever shut down the service, but you can still use GrandCentral for your free outbound calls as described above.

What are the benefits & drawbacks?

The main benefit is that you can have unlimited calls to and from your cell phone, something that is easily worth over $100 a month. The benefit however comes at a cost. First, you will have to ask everyone to use your new phone number (the one you obtain from GrandCentral). Second, you lose Caller ID functionality. GrandCentral will announce to you who is calling but I find it less convenient than seeing the person’s name and photo (yeah, I have a picture assigned to each of my friends).

For outgoing calls the inconvenience is in the extra steps you need to make to setup the call by either returning the voice message or by dialing Yak4Ever number and selecting the appropriate entry from your list of registered numbers.


So is it worth the hassle or not? For me it is. I still can assign 4 of my remaining myFaves numbers to my close friends and family, but I did reserve one for GrandCentral. I plan to use it with certain people who I don’t call very often but when I do my conversations tend to take a while. Think about your far-away relatives or anyone else who you sync up with on a periodic basis.

Tell me what you think about it. Are you planning to use this hack or is it just a waste of time? One thing I keep wondering about is how long is it before Google plugs this back door. Or will it?

Source: discussions at FatWallet and SlickDeals forums

See also:

46 Responses to “t-Mobile + GrandCentral = unlimited free calls”

  1. 1 Mike G. Nov 17th, 2007 at 12:46 am

    Great hack.. Too bad I’m stuck with Verizon :(

    Verizon is so bad, they disable standard features on a cell phone, then charge to get them enabled…

  2. 2 Mark@ Nov 17th, 2007 at 1:54 am

    Great article…I could sure use one of the Grand Central invites- I have had a request in for some time with no luck!

  3. 3 Ben Nov 17th, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Wow, I’d never heard of GrandCentral before, that’s a pretty slick service. What isn’t Google into these days? I’d love an invite if you still have some. Thanks!

  4. 4 Kayla Chambers Nov 17th, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Looks like Yak4Ever has closed.

    “Dear Customers
    Unfortunately, Yak4ever is now closed.
    We have been underwriting the costs and expenses of the project for the past several months. We have tried to wait for definitive decisions from the FCC and the Courts regarding payment of the access fees by the Major carriers. While the FCC has ruled that the marketing programs of the Rural CLECS are valid and serve a public purpose. In spite of this ruling, the Carriers are still refusing to pay. We cannot continue to carry this load without payment. Therefore, effective immediately, Yak4ever is ceasing operations as a free model and is shutting down.”

  5. 5 Jason Nov 17th, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    I’ve been using GC for almost 6 months and I’m pretty hooked on it. Since you can get a number from any area code, I created a number from my hometown so my family can call me for free on their land line. I also use it with my banks, credit card cos, and other businesses.

    This brings 2 benefits… if there is an important call from my bank or doctor for example, my house, cell, and office phones ring all at once and I’m almost always near one of those phones. Secondly, GC gives me tremendous control over who gets through to me which is great for the occasional tele-marketer.

    I’ve not really circulated my GC number amongst my friends due to the extra steps of making outbound calls. A GC representative told me that they were working on ways to cut out the extra steps. I’m wondering if we’ll see more from GC as we get into 2008 and Google’s mobile plans move closer to reality.

    I don’t have T-mobile so I can’t try this hack, but being a geek and a relative early adopter, I would use it if I could. A GC number is a good thing to have though even if you end up using it as sort of an accessory to your regular phones.

  6. 6 Curious George Nov 18th, 2007 at 12:07 am

    I have an unrelated question about GrandCentral I haven’t found an answer for.

    If I don’t have voice mail, and then I get a GrandCentral number, will that provide any voicemail capability I don’t have now?

  7. 7 Yan Nov 18th, 2007 at 12:25 am

    Mark & Ben

    I sent the invites. Enjoy!


    Thanks for the heads up. It was kind of expected from Yak4ever. Business models built on loopholes don’t last long…


    GrandCentral is one of those “looks too good to be true” things. Sometimes I wonder if Google will be able to keep it free for long.


    Yes, you do get voice mail with GrandCentral even if the number you redirect calls to doesn’t have it.

  8. 8 W Bouzid Nov 18th, 2007 at 3:28 am

    Would it work for international phone calls (land-line & cell-phones), as well?
    If it does, that would be a major saver on my telephone bill.

    Could I ask you an invite from GrandCentral, please.

  9. 9 Winston Smith Nov 18th, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Great article! I agree with you about the future of VoIP via a data plan. I am anxious for that day!

    If you have any GrandCentral invites left, can you please invite me??

    Thank you!!


  10. 10 Ben Nov 18th, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    Thanks Yan! I used it to sign up and already have my number. Is there a way to turn off the screening of incoming calls so you don’t have to accept them, so that they just come right through?

  11. 11 Yan Nov 18th, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    By default, once you accept a number it will not be screened any more. To disable this, go to Settings->Call Screening and turn this feature off.

  12. 12 beth Nov 19th, 2007 at 8:58 am

    Would this work for calls to and from the UK both landline and mobile ?

    Could I ask you an invite from GrandCentral, please

  13. 13 Sarath Nov 19th, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Yak4ever has gone already..their website is already down..
    So you can’t make unlmited calls now from this plan or steps

  14. 14 Yan Nov 19th, 2007 at 11:27 am


    You would have needed a service like Yak4ever to get unlimited calls to UK. Unfortunately they just closed the service. If UK is what you need, I suggest giving a try to Jajah. With them your calls to UK are free if your other party is a registered Jajah user (registration is free) or 3.1 cents a minute otherwise.


    You can still make/receive unlimited calls in the US using just t-Mobile myFaves and GrandCentral (read the steps above).

  15. 15 william R. Nov 19th, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    I would love an invite if there are any more left.

  16. 16 Bo Nov 20th, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    I call china everyday to talk to my girl friend in the morning about 2 hours or so .. everyday …that’s everyday .. and I sign up for T-mobile myfev but then the phone card number I am dailing it’s not count as myfev unlimited mins from T-mobile I called T-mobile and they told me I can’t use that number cuz it’s a phonecard number .. so I wonder if I sign up myfev and would this number from grandcentrol works for me ??? thanks …

  17. 17 Jay K Nov 26th, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    If you have any more invites can you send one my way. (please)

  18. 18 Curious George Nov 27th, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    thanks, that’s very good to know.

    Now I have another problem:

    When I try to complete the GC registration online, it calls my number while my screen displays a two-digit number I must enter when I answer the call from GC.

    But I have only one phone line and a dialup connection, so GC cannot reach me and I cannot enter the two-digit code.

    What can I do to complete the registration?

  19. 19 Yan Nov 28th, 2007 at 12:04 am

    That is one weird problem to solve! Is broadband not available in your area? When we moved to our newly built subdivision (no cable or DSL) I found a cheap wireless internet provider to avoid the dial-up hassle.

    Now, for your problem. How about you click submit on that form and disconnect your modem as soon as you see the two digit number? It will take at least a few seconds for the call to route to you so you should have just enough time to free up the phone line.

  20. 20 Curious George Nov 28th, 2007 at 12:41 am

    Thanks again, I’ve been thinking that won’t work (that GC will break the call when I disconnect) but it’s definitely worth trying.

  21. 21 Curious George Nov 28th, 2007 at 1:40 am

    Looks like I’m hosed, now I can’t even get to a login screen. I didn’t save my invite email (it scrolls off after a few weeks), so I’m out of luck.

  22. 22 D Patel Dec 1st, 2007 at 3:31 am

    Still you have spare invitation for me than please send me; I would like to try this.

  23. 23 Yan Dec 1st, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    I just sent out my last GrandCentral invitation, no more left.

  24. 24 Curious George Dec 1st, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    I could go on eBay and buy an invite for 99 cents. But then I could still be hosed if I am uinable to register.

    How the heck do they expect people to sign up and use it without ANY user support?

  25. 25 Yan Dec 1st, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Check your email and give it another try. You should be able to activate it by temporarily disconnecting your dial-up link and reconnecting it before submitting the code with GrandCentral

  26. 26 William Benjamin Dec 3rd, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    Please if you or anyone else has any invites left please send me one. I could really use it. Have noticed similar features poping up on Vonage and other VoIP providers. My friends always tell me I’ve go too many numbers and guest what I do. I have a bussiness and personal cell phone in the states, bussiness and personal landline at home, 2 offices one in Virginia, another in Jamaica. In Jamaica the telphone numbers don’t roll over if busy must call the next number. Also in Jamaica I have a VoIP number and a toll free number. In Jamaica I also have yet another three cell phones. sometimes I cant even remember my number. Infact if you don’t have a PDA you may never reach me. I have not start to talk about fax numbers which are yet another nightmare. So could someone have mercy on me and send me an invite. I am sure I would be a very good testerthat is if I don’t totally confuse or overload the program.

  27. 27 William Benjamin Dec 3rd, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    I like your idea that’s thinking outside the box. From what I have read using one voice mail has numerous advanges. Currently my pda has an unlimted call log now going on 3 years. This feature has be of great value when you get a call and just don’t have the time to save the name or more often than not driving and don’t want to take the risk. I am grandfathered into a GSM unlimited plan with the old ATT and it cost $99/ month

  28. 28 D Patel Dec 3rd, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    William Benjamin

    I have spare invitation but i don’t have yr email ID. pl provide me yr email id so i can send you one.


  29. 29 Izzy Dec 3rd, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Great article,Would love an invitation to access Grand Centrals great features.

  30. 30 mpatel Dec 4th, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    Can I get an invite for a GC number also please? mpatel at hotmail . com


  31. 31 WhiteShepherd Dec 5th, 2007 at 10:18 am

    Grandcentral is nice. But you really don’t need the hack. Most of us have broadband in our homes. With the t-mobile at home option. You can get unlimited calling (in and out) whenever you are near a wi-fi network. It’s a lot less hoops to jump through.

    Though I still use Grandcentral for blocking #. :)

  32. 32 CA Dec 16th, 2007 at 1:21 am

    Nice work to bad there’s not a way to profit from it!
    Have you herd of Magic Jack? This service works on VOIP technology with no bill talk as much as you want for free USA Mexico Canada and other worldly areas.($20.00 a year subscription fee) with a high-speed Internet connection. If you have any more invites would appreciate one I am a T-Mobil user and would love to expand my service!!!

  33. 33 Rex Dec 23rd, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    Have Asterisk running with registry to and

    Can web login to my GrandCentral Account and with its fantastic Address book pick someone I want to call. My VoIP Grandstream Budget tone 200 phone will ring and then I pick up . It then rings until the desired party picks up on the PSTN.
    High quality FREE outbound phone calls with a nice soft phone coupled to a dedicated hard phone.
    Now if I could get more control over my T-mobile hot spot service ($20/m) to act like Grand Central and have cell phone calls redirected to my desk via Asterisk – and Gizmo Project –, it would truly be a value. I do have to pay for the damm cell phone – its highly overpriced!

    Lets see what happens with Google and Android and 700MHz after 1/24/08, for all of our 2 year cell phone contracts.

  34. 34 Jay K Dec 25th, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    I am in the market for a new phone/PDA but have yet to make a decision. I like the price ofdata/voice plans with t-mobile, but leary on the 2 year contract.

    Does anyone know when t-mobile will realease 3g. What happens on 1/27/08?

    Any suggestion would help.


  35. 35 Digitalnomad Jan 3rd, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Check out MagicJack and Truphone. MagicJack works out to about 6 cents a day, and Truphone won a lawsuit in GB against T-Mobile for not completing voip over cellular calls. Also look at Fring.

  36. 36 kate Jan 14th, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Hi Can anybody send my grandcentral invitation code ,my email :

    Many thanks

    cheer leader

  37. 37 sebastian Jan 17th, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Great article. I’d love to try GrandCentral. Could you please send me an invitation. Thabks.-

  38. 38 Jim Jan 17th, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    I would be grateful for a GrandCentral invite. Can anyone help?

  39. 39 Monette Jan 28th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Please send me an invite because I call Jamaica alot. Each time we buy these cell phones with unlimited calls, they end up shutting down in 3 mos.

  40. 40 Taiyo Mar 11th, 2008 at 7:07 am

    There is a service called ringBranch ( with a personal auto attendant that lets you do the same thing (I think) as you mentioned yak4ever used to do.

    But instead of 10 I think it allows 100 contacts.

    great hack

  41. 41 Toni Sep 10th, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Not sure if you still have invitations but would love to try to connect with my kids overseas through Central Station. Tx for the great info.

  42. 42 Jorge Sep 28th, 2008 at 2:08 am

    Not sure if you still have invitations after all this time, but it would be great to be able to talk to my parents abroad. Thank you for the great info.

  43. 43 Yan Sep 28th, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Sorry guys, no invitations left. Besides, I thought Grand Central don’t require those any longer… or do they?

  44. 44 Jasper Nov 9th, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Currently they don’t allow new invites to be sent, but existing unused ones still work…if you can find one. I’m still around 4000 or 5000 in line at inviteshare waiting for one. I’ll probably more likely win the lottery or get struck by lightening than find a free one. I have seen them on,, and but they have been priceier than I’d like to pay.

  45. 45 Angelo Nov 30th, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    I completely agree with you about the future of VoIP via a data plan. Can’t wait for it’s time to come!

    If you have invites left, can you please invite me?

    Warmest Regards and thanking you in advance…


  46. 46 tonya Apr 9th, 2011 at 10:40 am

    this is so helpfull

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