How can I get a free business phone number?
A dedicated business phone number is an important part of setting up a company, as it ensures you come across as professional and established. As your organization grows, you might need to add an extra business line or change your existing number to better suit your needs.
If those phone numbers are free, you’ll make a significant saving—and it’s great if your customers can get in touch with you free of charge, too.
But how do you get a free business phone number? Read on as we take a look at:
Types of business phone numbers
There are several different types of business phone numbers, some of which you can obtain for free.
Let’s take a closer look at some of them.
Virtual phone numbers
Virtual phone numbers, also known as online phone numbers, use internet technology instead of traditional phone lines. They are not tethered to one particular phone or location, and can be accessed from any internet-enabled device.
They’re part of a virtual phone system delivered by software as a service (SaaS), and accept calls through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Many VoIP providers offer virtual phone numbers, which you can program to forward incoming calls to preset phone numbers (fixed, mobile, or VoIP).
VoIP phone numbers
A VoIP phone number is basically the number assigned when you sign up for a VoIP service. You still enter a string of digits on a dial pad to make a call, but there are many features that you don’t get with regular landlines.
You can share the number between devices and employees, route calls, record voice messages, and access unlimited minutes.
Once you plug an IP phone into a local available network (LAN) port, the device registers itself on the VoIP network, and you can use your VoIP number like a normal phone number.
Local phone numbers
These are simply numbers with an area code attached to a specific location. If this is the only type of number you need, it’s easier to get a business number that’s completely free.
Because virtual and VoIP phone numbers are independent from a location, these phone systems allow you to choose an area code that’s separate from your actual premises. You might want to do this because customers are more likely to call a local business or answer the phone to a local number.
Local phone numbers are available from your service provider, but some have more choice than others. For instance, RingCentral gives you more than 200 area codes to choose from.
Toll-free and vanity numbers
Toll-free numbers (such as 800 numbers) are free for your customers to call, but not necessarily free for you!
You can often pick a randomly-assigned number for free, but you may have to pay to choose your own preference. However, they are very reasonably priced—gone are the days when only big businesses could afford them.
Most toll-free numbers are free of charge when calling long-distance inside the US and Canada. Many providers also offer toll-free numbers for other countries, so you can go global and keep more customers happy by letting them call you for free.
A vanity number is a customized telephone number that spells out a memorable word or business name. These are less likely to be free, as you’ll probably have to pay an activation fee.
Benefits of free business numbers
A free business phone number can help you to:
- Save money
- Look professional
- Increase revenue
- Improve productivity
- Access extra features
If you sign up for a free virtual phone number, the setup is way cheaper (and faster) than installing physical phone lines—which is great news for startups and small businesses. And you can make and receive cheaper local and international phone calls, too.
Reducing telephony costs means you can concentrate on other aspects like marketing, and you can also pass your savings onto the customer. Because virtual and VoIP phone numbers are cloud-based, the provider also takes care of maintenance and security.
Many established and small business owners use virtual business phone number apps to get a custom phone number. It’s easy to choose your own local or toll-free business number, upgrade to a vanity number to improve brand recognition, and transfer existing numbers to a new service.
You can choose one number to cover multiple branches of your business, which increases the likelihood of customers remembering it—and the number can be shared by different employees at the same time.
Virtual and VoIP numbers let you have inbound calls forwarded to your personal cell phone, computer, or desk phone, or you can answer through mobile apps. The convenience of not being tied to one office phone is perfect for remote teams, while those without physical premises can handle business calls from anywhere.
Handy features usually include call menu options, voice messages, and text messaging—and if your number is part of a wider virtual business phone system from a company like RingCentral, you’ll get plenty of other tools to help save time and money.
Let’s also mention the benefits of a separate business phone line, as opposed to using a personal number. As well as telling customers that you’re professional and trustworthy, it protects your privacy and helps you keep work within set business hours.
Benefits of a virtual phone system
Traditional landlines just don’t measure up to virtual services when it comes to efficiency and cost. PBX systems cost more to install and maintain, and they don’t give you the flexibility or scalability to grow your business.
Instead of having your phone company install a new line to your premises, or buying a second phone for business use, you can choose a virtual system where you receive calls via your computer or mobile phone.
All you need is an internet connection and an internet-enabled device (or you could choose to invest in dedicated VoIP phones). Then, you can use your current hardware to field business calls and download an app to make outbound calls.
With everything based in the cloud, virtual and VoIP solutions are extremely scalable. Upgrades are delivered automatically, and it’s simple to create additional business phone lines or set up phone apps for Android or iOS. Subscription plans mean you only pay for what you use.
You can also share a phone number across multiple devices, and pick up calls from any other device using that number—no more missed calls or inefficient call transfers. If you already have a business number, you can move it to your new VoIP provider.
Virtual phone numbers are often more reliable (especially with a provider like RingCentral) because they’re managed through a controlled data center. You get better audio quality than traditional phones, which ensures maximum professionalism for business calling.
Don’t forget the integral call management features like call routing and virtual receptionists. With business VoIP from RingCentral MVP, you also get a full communications suite including conference calls, file sharing, and messaging.
How can I get a free phone number?
Look online and you’ll soon see that there are several free business phone apps offering virtual phone services. Including free local phone calls and texts. When cost-saving is an issue, it can be tempting to sign up for one of these—but they are usually not robust enough for business use.
“Free” is often not quite what it seems, and with a free virtual phone number, you’ll still have to pay for your internet and existing cell service. In most cases, free apps only offer a limited number of minutes, and the phone number may only be free for a trial period.
It’s important to do some thorough research before choosing a business phone service, even if a company offers you a free account. You’ll want to look for providers with a wide choice of numbers and customization options, general flexibility, reliability, and security, as well as call management tools and integrations.
Generally, if you want anything other than basic features, you’ll have to start paying—and this can quickly add up. So, for a long-term business solution, you’d be better off investing in a full virtual phone system from a reputable company like RingCentral.
It gives you unlimited calls within the US and Canada as well as affordable international calling, while the sophisticated phone features and services provide all the functionality your business needs.
Which provider should I pick?
Once you’ve decided to go for a virtual or VoIP phone system, there’s really only one contender—RingCentral MVP.
Not only will you have access to affordable business numbers, you’ll also get the benefits of a unified communications suite with everything from conference calling to SMS.
Whether you’re looking for toll-free, local, or vanity numbers, RingCentral lets you choose from a vast database or customize your own. This includes international numbers for more than 75 countries, all with highly reasonable pricing and packages to suit all budgets.
The phone number you choose will be accessible from any device, including desk phones, computers, laptops, iOS, and Android cell phones—so your workers won’t need to use their personal phone plans. You can also port your current number to RingCentral to make life easier for customers and employees.
Your business number will show up as the caller ID, helping to cement your professional appearance. Call management functions like call routing are ideal for call centers, helping agents handle more calls and get to know their customer stories. And you also get:
- Custom greetings and hold music
- Call forwarding
- Call recording
- Voicemail transcription
- Text messages
- Call queuing
With a full range of communication and collaboration tools included, you’ve got everything you need to make your business more efficient and get the most out of your new phone number. RingCentral is also super-secure and reliable, with all compliance standards adhered to.
RingCentral MVP has pricing to suit all types of business, with plans starting at $29.99 per month for a single user (prices get lower as you add more). This includes business phone or toll-free numbers, unlimited calls within the US and Canada, and unlimited business texting.