You can send text messages without a phone or paying messaging fees. An online texting service will let you send messages and may even let you see replies at no cost to you. Some of these services even provide the opportunity to contact friends internationally.
Free Text Message Services
There are a variety of free texting services online, but not all of them are reputable or work correctly. The best sites have a policy against sending spam to the numbers you message, and they support a wide variety of cellular providers.
If you have a free Google account, you can send text messages to any U.S. or Canadian phone number using the Google Voice feature. You can also receive messages and reply back, thereby having a text message conversation online. Most other services only allow you to send a text. All you need to do is set up a Google Voice number and using the dashboard, click on the "Send a Message" button to send an SMS text. You can send to as many numbers as you like and if you use Google regularly, a nice feature is that your address book will pop up when you click on the To field, making finding numbers faster. You can also attach images to your texts.
You can use this site to send text messages from your computer's browser for free. It will only work for numbers for cell phone service based in the United States. You need to create a free account with your email or phone number, or you can log in with Google or Facebook. The interface is simple to use and you can add multiple numbers in your message to send a group text. In addition to character texts you can also send images. If you sign in with Google or Facebook, you can allow TextFree Web to have access to your contacts to make texting easier.
This site allows you to send free texts to one single number at a time. You can send not only to the U.S. but to international cell phone numbers. The user interface is ad-heavy which can be very distracting. You do not need to create an account to use the service. The site also offers free file sharing, phone calls and video chat. All you need to do is enter the recipient phone number, click on the yellow Next button, then add your message and click on the Next button again to send the text.
Open Texting Online
You can send a text to the U.S., as well as most other countries, using Open Texting Online. You will need to know the recipient's carrier service but the site has a handy lookup feature to help you find it if you don't know what it is. You can also add an email address for replies but this is an optional feature. You can send texts to one phone number at a time and for a maximum of 140 characters. The site also offers an Android and iOS app with the same features to users. Note that while texting is free for you, the site states that the recipient may get charged a fee to receive the text depending on their carrier.
Online Text Message
Online Text Message has a very simple interface which is ad-supported, although the ads are limited and not intrusive. You will need to enter an email address in addition to the recipient's phone number for this site to work. You can enter one number at a time and messages can be no more than 100 characters. You can also optionally request to have a copy of the text message sent to your email. Registration is not required to use the site.
Choosing a Free Text Messaging Service
When looking at these services, choose one that supports the carriers your contacts use and the countries they live in. Not all of these services work with every carrier, especially smaller ones. You should also consider whether you need to attach multimedia files and if receiving replies directly is important. These services can provide a free way to stay in touch if you prefer using your computer instead of a phone to text.