TextNow is one of the most popular free calling and messaging apps, providing users in the US and Canada with free calls, texts, and phone numbers. However, TextNow’s services are restricted only to these two countries due to licensing limitations. So if you are traveling or living abroad, TextNow will not work outside of the US or Canada.
But there is a simple workaround—you can use a VPN service to access TextNow from anywhere in the world. A VPN allows you to change your virtual location by connecting through a server in another country. By linking to a US-based VPN server, you can trick TextNow into thinking you are located in the US, thus granting you access.
In this guide, we will cover the top 3 VPNs to use with TextNow in 2023 based on extensive testing and research. We will also provide tips on how to choose the best VPN for your needs and setup instructions.
Overview of TextNow
First launched in 2009, TextNow has become one of the most popular apps for free calling and texting over WiFi. With over 25 million users, TextNow provides the following core services:
- Free US/Canada phone number
- Unlimited texts to any US/Canada number
- Free unlimited calling between TextNow users
- Free calls to US/Canada landlines and mobile phones
- Low-cost international calling rates
TextNow monetizes these services through in-app advertisements and optional paid plans with more features.
The app uses your phone’s WiFi or mobile data connection combined with Voice over IP technology to provide phone service. This allows TextNow to offer free calling without being an actual wireless carrier.
To use TextNow, you simply download the app on your iOS or Android device, create an account, and TextNow provides you with a free US/Canada phone number. As long as you have an internet connection, you can make calls and send texts to any number in the US and Canada for free.
Why TextNow is Geo-Restricted
TextNow provides impressive services for free partly because they only need to operate within the US and Canada. Expanding internationally would be cost-prohibitive and require complicated licensing agreements in each country.
So TextNow geo-restricts usage of the app to IP addresses located in the US or Canada. If you travel abroad and try to use TextNow, it will detect your foreign IP address and block access.
This is where a VPN comes in handy. A VPN allows you to route your internet traffic through servers located in other countries, masking your true IP address. By connecting to a US-based VPN server, you can trick TextNow into thinking you are located in the US.
3 Best VPNs for TextNow in 2023
Based on extensive testing and research, we recommend the following 3 VPNs as the best for accessing TextNow abroad in 2023:
NordVPN is our top overall recommendation for TextNow due to its combination of fast US servers, watertight security, and budget-friendly pricing.
With over 5200 servers in 60 countries, NordVPN has one of the largest VPN server networks. This includes over 1700 ultra-fast servers located in the US. In our speed tests, we consistently achieved fast connection speeds for HD calling and streaming media when linking to US-based NordVPN servers.
NordVPN also offers industry-leading security features like AES-256 encryption, a kill switch to prevent data leaks, and a no logs policy. An easy-to-use app provides access on all major platforms.
One of the most affordable options, NordVPN starts at only $3.29 per month for a 3-year plan. You can use it on up to 6 devices simultaneously, making it a great value.
Surfshark is another excellent, low-cost option that worked seamlessly in our TextNow tests. With over 3200 servers in 100 countries, it was easy to connect to a fast US-based server and access TextNow abroad.
Some of Surfshark’s key advantages include:
- Speedy US servers optimized for streaming & calls
- AES-256 encryption & a private DNS
- MultiHop feature for double encryption
- Strict no logs policy
- Unlimited device connections
- Pricing starting at just $2.49/month
Surfshark also offers a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can test if it works well for accessing TextNow.
3. Atlas VPN
With a smaller network of 750+ servers, Atlas VPN may not be as well known as NordVPN or Surfshark. But it performed excellently in our TextNow unblocking tests and is one of the most affordable options.
Atlas VPN manages to provide fast US servers, strong encryption (IKEv2 & AES-128), and unlimited bandwidth for under $2/month. An internet kill switch and DNS/IPv6 leak protection ensure your privacy is maintained.
The Atlas VPN mobile and desktop apps are user-friendly, and you can use it on an unlimited number of devices. For a budget VPN that seamlessly accesses TextNow abroad, Atlas VPN is a great choice.
Using a VPN to Access TextNow Abroad
Once you’ve selected one of the recommended VPNs above, the process to access TextNow is simple:
Create an account with your chosen VPN provider and download their app.
Log into the VPN app and connect to a US-based server. This will disguise your IP address as being within the US.
Launch the TextNow app and use it as normal. The VPN tricks TextNow into allowing full use of calling, messaging, and other services.
To ensure your privacy, keep the VPN connection active whenever you are using TextNow abroad.
The process only takes a few minutes to setup. The key is choosing a reliable VPN with plenty of US servers, like the options we recommend above. All three provided a smooth TextNow experience when we tested them outside the US.
Tips for Picking the Best TextNow VPN
Here are a few key factors to consider when choosing a VPN for accessing TextNow:
Fast US servers – Look for VPNs with a large US server network, which indicates reliable speeds for calls and streaming. NordVPN, Surfshark, and Atlas all fit the bill.
Top-tier encryption – AES 256-bit encryption is best for keeping your TextNow usage private. Avoid free VPNs with weak encryption.
No bandwidth limits – TextNow can use a lot of data, so choose a VPN with unlimited bandwidth.
Allows multiple devices – Pick a VPN that permits connecting 5+ devices simultaneously for convenience.
Apps for all platforms – Make sure apps are available for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, etc.
Reasonable pricing – TextNow itself is free, so you likely don’t want an expensive VPN. Our picks start around $2 per month.
Reliability – Read reviews and choose an established VPN brand that delivers consistent performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does TextNow Offer Free Calling & Texting?
TextNow is able to provide their core communication services for free through a few methods:
- In-app banner & video ads generate revenue when users view them.
- Partnerships allow TextNow to recoup costs, like credits from phone manufacturers.
- Optional paid plans with more features subsidize the free users.
- Only operating in US/Canada minimizes costs instead of supporting global usage.
What Devices are Compatible With TextNow?
TextNow is compatible with both iOS and Android smartphones including the latest models like iPhone 14 and Samsung Galaxy S22. Tablets can also run TextNow as long as they support standard calling/messaging functions.
TextNow’s app is not compatible with landline phones, flip phones, or other basic devices lacking mobile data capabilities. You’ll need a smartphone, tablet, or PC to use TextNow.
Can I Get a TextNow SIM Card?
Yes, TextNow offers free SIM card kits that allow you to use the TextNow service on your existing smartphone without relying solely on WiFi. The one-time SIM activation kit costs $0.99.
Once activated, the TextNow SIM provides nationwide talk, text, and some data for free. Paid data add-ons are available if you need more than the free monthly data allowance.
TextNow provides an unparalleled free phone service but restricts usage to the US and Canada only. With a good VPN like NordVPN, Surfshark, or Atlas VPN, you can circumvent the geo-block and use TextNow from anywhere in the world.
Make sure to select a VPN with plenty of US servers, strong security, unlimited bandwidth, and multi-platform apps. With the right VPN, you’ll have smooth and private access to TextNow’s calling, messaging, and other features while traveling or living abroad.