An 800 number, or any other kind of toll-free number, such as 888 or 877, is a telephone number with a distinct three-digit code that can be dialed with no charge to the person placing the call. They are typically used by companies that want a more professional business presence than using a local area code.
RingCentral is a complete VoIP system that offers customers a 1-800 number for their business. Not only that, but the service also provides conferencing features, a mobile app, and voicemail-to-email transcription. Click the button below to start your 7-day free trial.
How an 800 number Works
An 800 number is, in basic terms, an agreement with your service provider that your business will pay the cost of someone calling your company. This makes it easier for customers outside of your local area to reach out to you as they won’t be charged any long-distance fees. This is especially beneficial for landline callers who do not have unlimited long-distance calling plans. This, in turn, benefits your business as it drives more call traffic to your organization.
It is worth noting that dialing an 800 number is not always free for wireless callers. Calls made to a toll-free number are treated the same as any other call and will count towards the caller’s monthly airtime minutes. Still, many of today’s wireless consumers have unlimited domestic calling plans, so most will be unaffected by the charge.
The 800 prefix is the first one we usually think of when we consider toll-free numbers. However, in time, businesses began to take up most of the available 800 numbers. As a result, phone service providers began offering other toll-free prefixes like 844, 855, 877, 888, and more. They all serve the same purpose. Therefore, how these numbers work and the process for getting one is no different from how to get an 800 number.
For many decades, customers have been hearing 800 numbers during advertisements from large, national companies. As a result, the average consumer usually associates a toll-free number with an established business. If you have an 800 number, callers may very well take your organization more seriously than if you had a local phone number with your region’s area code.
Who an 800 Number Is Right For
An 800 number can be beneficial for many different types of businesses. If you have a support team, for example, you can make it easier for landline customers to reach out for help. You also give people more incentive to call your sales team to learn more about your services, since calling your company is free. Additionally, toll-free numbers are good for any company looking to adopt a more professional business presence with a national phone number.
- Support teams: Calling an 800 number is more affordable for your landline customers if they need assistance.
- Sales teams: If a customer wants to learn more about your services, you’ve made it easier to call your sales staff and potentially close a deal.
- Growing businesses: If you are looking to take on the appearance of a nationwide company, an 800 number can be a big help in solidifying your brand as such.
All told, most businesses can benefit from having an 800 number. The fact that many business phone systems offer a toll-free number with every new account also means that getting an 800 number has never been more accessible.
800 Number Costs
The cost of an 800 number will largely depend on the phone system you have. While many services like RingCentral offer the option of a local or 800 number for free when you subscribe, other systems charge an additional fee for a toll-free number.
Factors that impact the cost of 800 numbers include:
- VoIP phone service: A VoIP service is a phone service and, usually, a complete business communications platform rolled into one. Prices can range anywhere from $12.99 per user, per month for Phone.com all the way to $55 per user, per month for the most expensive version of 8×8.
- Virtual phone service: Virtual phone systems allow you to add a business number to an existing personal landline or mobile phone. Virtual phone providers like Grasshopper start at $29 per month and offer a toll-free number.
- Toll-free minutes: Most internet services, like RingCentral, provide a monthly allotment of toll-free minutes. For example, RingCentral provides customers of its most basic tier a monthly allotment of 100 toll-free minutes. These minutes are taken out of your allowance every time a user calls your number.
- Landline phone service: It is possible to adopt an 800 number for your landline phone network. Prices vary widely depending on the landline providers in your area. AT&T, Verizon, and other companies still offer landline systems in many parts of the country. The cost of adding a toll-free number to a landline system can cost more than $1,000 easily.
800 numbers usually come free with VoIP and virtual phone systems, which makes them more affordable than they were in previous decades. There are toll-free number options to suit the needs and budget of nearly every type of small business.
Top Three 800 Number Providers
There is no shortage of business phone systems that provide businesses with a toll-free business number. The proliferation of internet phone systems has made it possible for even the smallest of companies to enjoy the benefits of toll-free calling. Here are some of the most popular services on the market today.
RingCentral is one of the most popular business VoIP systems on the market and for good reason. With a starting price of $29.99 per user, per month, features include unlimited domestic calling, a multilevel auto attendant, and a generous amount of toll-free minutes. This is one of the best phone products for growing teams available. The company even offers a seven-day free trial so that you can see all the service has to offer for yourself.
Grasshopper which starts at $26 per month, is a virtual phone number provider that gives users an 800 number that they can use on their mobile or landline phones. The solution also offers features like call forwarding, Wi-Fi calling, business texting, and voicemail transcription. Grasshopper is great for small teams who want a business phone number that they can use on their existing personal phone. The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Starting at $25 per user, per month, 8×8 is a VoIP provider that offers unlimited international calling. This means that you can enjoy the benefits of an 800 number and also make calls to overseas associates at no additional cost. The service is among the more expensive options of its kind, but it’s great for companies with an international business presence. Click here to learn more.
Why 800 Numbers Still Matter
Fewer customers than ever are paying for long distance calls as more people adopt mobile phones and VoIP services. Even some landline plans include unlimited calling in all of North America. While this may minimize the primary advantage of 800 numbers, they continue to be a popular option for many businesses.
An 800 number is one of the few ways to “separate” yourself from a local area code (virtual phone numbers being another). For example, if your business is located in California, but you serve customers nationwide, then an 800 number helps to communicate that you’re national. Using an 800 number removes this doubt as it doesn’t connect you to any specific location.
Here are some of the other advantages of using an 800 number:
- They’re memorable: Think of large companies like the home furnisher Empire Today, which has used their 800-588-2300 number as a jingle for many years. An 800 number is usually easier to remember than a local number.
- They’re portable: You can keep your current 800 number should you move to a new area code or open a new location.
- They add prestige: 800 numbers still project professionalism and may create the impression that your business is larger than it is.
- They’re toll-free: Your customers won’t incur any charges for calling you if their phone plan doesn’t include long-distance calling.
How to Choose an 800 Number
If you think your business would benefit from an 800 number, the next step is to decide whether or not you want a vanity phone number where you select the digits. This might be to spell out a certain phrase, such as 1-800-EDUCATE, or to take advantage of repeating numbers like 1-877-777-7777. The primary advantage is to make your business phone number memorable at a glance.
However, vanity numbers do tend to cost extra compared to randomized 800 numbers. Therefore, if you’re looking for an 800 number to avoid using a local area code, then you can save a little money by not using this type of service.
How to Choose a Vanity Number
800 numbers have been popular for several decades, so common wisdom holds that any basic phrase, such as 1-800-LAWYERS, will already be taken. While this is largely true, there are often still variants available to choose from. As well, new 800 numbers are regularly released with variations on the three-digit prefix. 877, 844, and 888 are common examples of different 800 number prefixes that work the same way as 800.
Let’s look at RingCentral’s number selection tool and search for “LAWYERS” as an example:
As you can see, there are no exact matches available. However, when we shorten this to “4LAW” then add the * symbol, which designates a “wildcard” digit, we see there are many more options:
Finding a good vanity number can take a little creativity and flexibility. Abbreviations and synonyms will help your chances of finding one that’s available. For example, a plumber might consider shorter phrases like “PIPES,” and “LEAKS.”
How to Choose a Nonvanity Number
If you don’t need a vanity 800 number, then the process is even easier. Any 800 number provider will generate a random 800 number for your business. This option is usually less expensive than choosing a vanity 800 number, so it’s an opportunity for your business to save a little money on the service.
Using RingCentral’s Number Selector tool, you can browse various options:
RingCentral allows you to choose the prefix (like 800, 844, 888, and so on, then you can choose from a list of numbers on the drop-down menu.
Pros & Cons of an 800 Number
While having a toll-free 800 number has many benefits, it’s not the best option for all businesses. Despite being memorable, it can also be expensive. It can also look cold and impersonal to your customer base if you do all of your operations in the same local region.
Pros of an 800 Number
Benefits of an 800 number include:
- Professionalism: An 800 number makes your company look more established and may command more respect from your associates.
- Portability: If your organization moves offices to another region, your phone number won’t seem inappropriate if it has an 800 area code.
- Accessibility: Customers that are on limited landline plans will be able to reach your business at no cost to them.
Cons of an 800 Number
Negatives of an 800 number include:
- Local alienation: If the entire scope of your business is local, then having an 800 number area code might give off a cold and unrelatable image to customers in your community. In that case, a local phone number might make more sense.
- VoIP expense: If you do not have a dedicated business phone system ― you might use your personal cell number, for example ― then you might find the cost of a VoIP or virtual phone system unaffordable. Additionally, Google Voice is a free service that can give you a local business number free of charge.
- Landline systems: Business that still use landline systems can expect to spend more than $1,000 to adopt an 800 number
Alternatives to an 800 Number
If you’ve decided that an 800 number isn’t the best option for you, there are still a number of options available. You could adopt a standard local phone number or buy a memorable, customized vanity phone number. Some services even provide an international number for those with multinational operations. For more information, check out our guide to business phone numbers.
Local Phone Number
All of the phone systems we mentioned in our providers’ section ― RingCentral, Grasshopper, and 8×8 ― allow you to use a local area code for your number. You get all of the same features you would with a toll-free number, the only difference is the number that your customers will call.
A vanity number is a type of toll-free number that allows you to customize all digits of the number. So, for example, you could make the number of your nursery 1-800-PLANTSHOP and use that at a catchy tagline to market your business. Most services like RingCentral offer a vanity number for an additional cost.
An international number, as its name implies, gives you a phone number with the country and area code of an overseas location. This is a great fit for companies with an international business presence. RingCentral offers international numbers in more than 70 different countries.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is the area code 800 the only toll-free prefix available?
In the United States, there are seven different toll-free area codes available: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833. Most VoIP and Virtual phone services will allow you to choose one of these prefixes for your toll-free number.
If I switch phone services, can I bring over my 800 number?
Yes. Leading phone services, including RingCentral, allow you to port your existing toll-free number to their service. You could either do this yourself in your new service’s configuration tools or have a customer service rep walk you through the process.
Will my customers know my location if they dial my toll-free number?
No. The only way your customers will know where you are located is if you tell them. One of the best aspects of an 800 number is that it can make your business look like a large national operation, even if you are a small startup team without a proper office.
800 numbers can make a big difference in making your organization look professional. It also helps your customers, who may be calling on a landline, speak to you and learn more about your business free of charge. Although most users can now call anyone in the country for free, toll-free telephony still has a place in the modern business world.
If you are looking for a phone service that provides a toll-free number, we recommend RingCentral. Not only can it provide you with a respectable business phone presence, but it comes with plenty of other call management features to keep your phone operations running smoothly. Get started with your seven-day free trial today.