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A toll-free number is a phone number that can be dialed from a landline phone with no charge to the caller. It boosts customer recognition and makes your business appear much more legitimate than using a personal or standard business telephone number.

Many VoIP providers include a variety of local, international, vanity, and toll-free numbers with your existing business phone service plan.

Let’s take a look at how toll-free numbers work, their benefits, which providers offer the best plans, and how to get a toll-free number for your business.

 

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What is a Toll-Free Number?

A toll-free number is a business phone number that begins with differentiating three-digit codes called number prefixes. The most common toll-free number prefixes include 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, and 844.

Toll-free numbers are most often used for customer service needs, to facilitate purchases, or to provide more information about a company.

 

How Does a Toll-Free Number Work?

Toll-free calls are available from landline and mobile phones. The owner of the toll-free number is the one who pays for incoming and outgoing calls, while the call is entirely free to the person dialing the number even if they’re technically placing a long-distance call from Canada or anywhere in the world. (Note that the only way the caller would be charged for a toll-free call is if they place it from a cell phone that does not offer unlimited minutes.)

Additionally, as long as toll-free numbers have been enabled to send/receive messages, callers may also contact the numbers via SMS texting.

In terms of features, toll-free service has come a long way.

In the past, toll-free numbers were used for incoming calls only, but today, many toll-free service providers offer advanced calling features like call recording, IVR/auto-attendant, call routing, call forwarding, and call queuing.

Toll-free phone number providers (called “Responsible Organizations” or “RespOrgs“) reserve and manage these numbers for their customers. Customers who want to buy a toll-free number technically do this through RespOrgs. Any number that has not been claimed, or if previous ownership has expired, is available for purchase, much like a website address.

Once a customer selects and purchases their preferred number, they own it. They can legally transfer existing toll-free numbers in or out of any provider they choose. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) doesn’t provide any information about the owners or status of a toll-free number — that information is found in a database that only RespOrgs (number providers) access.

 

Benefits of Toll-Free Numbers

Below are some benefits of using toll-free telephone numbers for your business.

 

Added Legitimacy

Over 58% of people say they’d rather call a toll-free number than a standard local one.

Smaller businesses and startups benefit from the added legitimacy of using an 800 number rather than a local number. This allows them to look as established as larger competitors and makes clients feel as though these small businesses have all the same resources that enterprise companies do.

 

Easy to Remember

We bet that the mere mention of toll-free numbers instantly calls to mind jingles or memorized numbers of other companies.

See?

They stick in your head — and they’ll stick in your customers’ heads, too. Toll-free telephone numbers are easily recognized and remembered, which means that the next time a customer needs the services you offer, they’ll call the number they know: yours.

 

Branding

Toll-free numbers are also great for branding. The most obvious example of a business marketing their vanity number is 1-800-FLOWERS.

Everyone knows what they sell based on the name, and everyone knows what number to call is if they’re interested in buying flowers. You’re killing two birds with one stone by streamlining the customer journey and making it more user-friendly.

 

Free to Your Callers

Finally, customers are more willing to call a toll-free number because they know it won’t cost them anything.

Use that to turn that into an actionable request — calling for more information or to place an order —  that benefits your business. Leads and customers who aren’t even sure if they need your product or service will feel more inclined to ask what your company’s about.

After all, they have nothing to lose.

 

How Are Toll-Free Numbers Assigned?

The FCC puts specific limitations on toll-free and vanity number selling. They’re sold on a first-come-first-serve basis, and also companies can’t horde vanity numbers without planning on using them.

To ensure the toll-free number is approved, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Use the new 833 toll-free prefix, and others toll-free codes like 888, 877, 866, 855, 844
  • Don’t limit yourself to vanity numbers
  • Don’t limit yourself to a true 800 number
  • Try alternate spellings of an already-taken vanity number
  • Use keywords your website ranks for
  • Use the pre-made suggestions some providers offer you
  • Use “overdials” if the word you want is too long

These tips are short and simple, but that seems to be the trend when it comes to acquiring a toll-free 800 number. It doesn’t take much to sign up and it doesn’t take much to find one that’s right for your business. With proper research and the ability to remain open to options other than true 800 numbers, you can sign up with a great toll-free number provider instantly.

 

How to Get a Toll-Free Number

There are three easy steps to get a toll-free number:

  1. Find a service provider
  2. Sign up and choose number prefix
  3. Set up your account and assign the number

Once you’ve selected the provider of your choice, you’ll need to see if the number you want is available by entering your desired number into a searchable toll-free number database. If the number hasn’t been claimed by another business, you can purchase both the number and select a corresponding plan.

If the number has been taken, the provider will usually offer a variety of close alternatives that are available. If you have an existing toll-free number you want to continue to use, but with a new provider, number porting is available.

Of course, the most important step is finding the right provider for your business. The options covered briefly in the table below are all top toll-free number providers.

 

Who Should Use Toll-Free Numbers? 

While anyone can easily get and benefit from a toll-free business number, smaller businesses and startups looking to establish themselves and increase their credibility will find them especially helpful.

Toll-free numbers are also an effective marketing tool and offer customers and leads fast, memorable ways to connect with your company.

Remember, 1-800-FLOWERS believed in the power of toll-free numbers so much, they made them an integral part of their business model. They saw instant success, and even if you don’t quite reach the same level they did,  you’ll be surprised to see the positive impact toll-free numbers have on your business.

 

Overview of Top Toll-Free Number Providers

Use the table below to compare pricing and features of top toll-free telephone number providers.

Provider Pricing Call Forwarding Call Blocking Call Recording VoIP Phone Services Vanity Numbers Auto-Attendant Call Routing Desktop/Mobile Apps Texting Shared Lines
RingCentral 4 paid plans from $19.99/user per month to $49.99/user per month Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
FreedomVoice 3 paid plans from $9.95/month for 400 minutes to $29.95/month for unlimited minutes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes, smart number routing Yes Yes Yes, unlimited users
Grasshopper 3 paid plans from $29.00/month for one number to $89.00/month for five numbers Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No
MightyCall 3 paid plans from $29.99/user per month for 2 toll-free numbers to $99.99/user per month for up to 10 toll-free numbers Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
800.com 3 paid plans from $19.00/month for 1,000 minutes and 1 toll-free number to $199.99/month for 5 toll-free numbers, unlimited seats, and up to 5,000 minutes. Vanity numbers available with a $35.00 activation fee Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No Yes No
CallHippo 4 paid plans from $15.00/user per month to $45.00+/user per month Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Kall8 A variety of paid plans ranging from $10.00/user per month to $199.00/user per month, paid add-ons available Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes No
Phone.com 3 paid plans from $12.99/user per month to $29.99/user per month Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
GoDaddy Only 1 paid plan for $19.99/user per month includes a toll-free number No No No No No No No Yes Yes Yes
Dialpad 3 paid plans from $15.00/user per month to $25.00+/user per month, Each toll-free number costs an additional $15.00-$17.00/month, plus $.02/minute Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

 

Toll-Free Number FAQs

Here, we’ve answered some of the most common questions about toll-free business phone numbers.

You can have as many toll-free numbers as you like, though keep in mind that adding more toll-free numbers with your current provider usually costs between $5.00-$10.00/user per month.


Many businesses have separate toll-free numbers for:

  • Branch locations
  • Departments
  • Specific marketing campaigns
  • Specific products
Standalone toll-free number services usually charge between $10.00-$20.00/month per user for their services, while complete business VoIP providers cost an average of $25.00-$50.00/month per user.
Number brokering is the illegal process (prohibited by the FCC) of buying up popular toll-free numbers and selling them at an enormous profit.

Number porting is the process of moving your current toll-free number to another business phone system/number provider.


It should not cost any money to port your toll-free number to a new provider, but the process can take anywhere from 5-21 business days after you submit a Responsible Organization Change Authorization Form.


If you want to completely change your number, you’ll need to cancel your current subscription with your provider, or cancel the number itself, and choose a new one. Note that it may remain active for a while even after cancellation.