Choosing a Business Phone Number? What You Need to Know
This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
Getting a business phone number is a fairly straightforward process. First, you decide whether to get a local, toll-free, or vanity number, select a phone service, and sign up for an account. The types of numbers, costs, and services vary across providers, so it’s important to know how each option differs. In this article, we explain each step in detail, including the types of business phone numbers, their benefits, and the top providers.
Types of Business Phone Numbers
Choosing the right phone number is the first step to getting a dedicated line for your business. In this stage, you must consider your target audience, budget, how you want your leads to perceive your brand, and the level of service you will provide. Below are the different options when selecting phone numbers for businesses:
Free or starting at $4.99 to $9.99
$0.99 to $15.99
$4.99 to more than $50
$4.99 to $15.99
Click on each item below to learn more about the different types of business phone numbers:
Local phone numbers include an area code tied to a specific location. Customers are more likely to answer a call from a number with a familiar area code, believing that it’s coming from a nearby business. This is best for small teams that don’t have a physical office in a specific locality but want to establish a trusted local presence.
Any business can get a local phone number from a virtual number provider or a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) service. They offer a selection of phone numbers based on your business address, but you can also request a different area code. A phone number purchase typically includes unlimited local calls and a host of calling features.
Toll-free numbers, also called 800 numbers, start with three-digit prefixes like 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833. These numbers work for businesses wanting to create an image of a larger company with an established national presence. Typically, they are often used for customer service hotlines, allowing U.S. customers to contact a business for free.
Companies will shoulder the per-minute fees for incoming calls to a toll-free number. VoIP services like RingCentral and Nextiva offer toll-free minutes with paid subscriptions, but calls will remain metered. Check out our guide on how to get an 800 number for your company.
Vanity phone numbers are customizable numbers that let you spell words or phrases. These numbers boost not only your brand recognition but also number memorability. You can also combine vanity numbers with an 800 number like 1-800-FLOWERS and 1-888-BEST-BUY.
Creating a vanity number for your business can be tricky because most good ones have been claimed. They are also slightly expensive as most VoIP providers charge a setup fee aside from the monthly charge. However, vanity numbers can be a great way to reinforce your brand and help customers to remember your business when looking for a specific product or service.
International numbers enable businesses to expand worldwide by having their own local number in another country. These numbers save customers from the hassle of entering international dialing codes and the cost of overseas long-distance calls.
Getting an international phone number doesn’t require a physical office or employee in a specific region because VoIP providers like RingCentral offer international numbers for select countries. When a customer calls, your provider routes the call to your domestic phone number, which you can pick up on your business phone.
Top Business Phone Number Providers
Buying a business phone number involves knowing which VoIP or virtual phone service provides the service you need. Note that the availability of phone numbers varies across business phone systems as well as the cost and feature inclusions. Find out how and where to get a business phone number by clicking on our top recommendations:
RingCentral is a leading business phone system providing phone, video, messaging, and fax in a single platform. It is best known for its reliability, extensive call management capabilities, and third-party integrations. If you purchase a plan, you can choose a local phone number but add a $30 one-time fee if you prefer a toll-free number.
Existing RingCentral users can order vanity numbers and local dialing options in over 105 countries. The Standard, Premium, and Ultimate plans include toll-free minutes ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 toll-free minutes while minute bundles are available from 1,000 to 100,000 minutes. Check out our in-depth review of this provider in our RingCentral review.
Grasshopper is a virtual phone system offering bundled phone numbers for a fixed monthly fee. Monthly costs range from $31 to $89, and each plan differs on the number of phone numbers and extensions included.
Regardless of your plan, all features remain the same, but its core functionalities are limited to voice calling. This works for businesses with low call volumes but want to save costs on buying multiple phone numbers. We cover this in our dedicated Grasshopper review.
Nextiva is a unified communications provider with team collaboration and customer engagement capabilities. All plans include a choice of a free local or toll-free number, including toll-free minutes ranging from 1,500 to 12,500 minutes. Vanity and international phone numbers are not offered at this time.
As mentioned in our deep-dive review, Nextiva is a good option for businesses of any size. Also, it has very reasonable pricing; monthly plans start at $30.95 per user, which include unlimited voice and video calling, voicemail, online fax, and team messaging.
8×8 is a cloud-based VoIP service with integrated voice, video, chat, and contact center capabilities. It has extensive security features and maintains various compliance certifications, ensuring users that their company data is protected. Among VoIP providers, 8×8 offers the flexibility of phone number support in over 100 countries, allowing you to add national toll-free or geography-specific direct inward dial (DID) numbers. Read our review to learn more.
Dialpad, which we cover in our in-depth review, is a business communications solution harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to streamline interactions and enhance workplace efficiency. At only $23 per user, per month, get started with a local number, including access to unified communications features like visual voicemail and video meetings. Adding a toll-free number adds $7 to your monthly bill. International numbers are also available in 25 countries.
Looking for budget-friendly options? Check out our list of the best free business phone number apps and compare which provider suits your business needs.
How to Get a Business Phone Number
The process for getting a phone number for a business depends on the service provider you pick. However, if you’re unsure where to start, take the following steps:
1. Select a Provider
The best way to get a business phone number is to find the right provider. The phone number types, feature inclusions, and costs vary widely, so it’s important to consider your budget and needs before picking a provider. To help you start, here are the options to consider:
- VoIP providers: The best VoIP systems have far more features than other communications services as they completely replace your current phone system. They deliver a host of call management features and digital collaboration tools.
- Virtual number providers: A virtual phone system is similar to VoIP, as it relies on the internet to transmit calls and comes with a phone number. However, it tends to have fewer call handling features, making it ideal for businesses with low-call volumes.
- Standalone business numbers: Many providers sell toll-free and vanity numbers for a one-time fee. Forward the number to your phone or port it into your phone system, but it’s better to check with the carrier first to ensure that the number is portable.
- Business phone number apps: These platforms lack basic calling capabilities, but they’re an excellent alternative for solopreneurs who simply need a second phone number. If you’re looking for budget-friendly phone numbers, check out our guide on how to get a free business phone number.
2. Sign Up for an Account
Once you have chosen a provider, visit its website to see its pricing packages. Most VoIP providers include a free local phone number with paid subscriptions, whereas others let you choose between local, toll-free, and vanity numbers. Not all providers supply international numbers, as they are often purchased as an add-on feature after signing up.
VoIP providers require customers to contact their sales team or provide their contact information. Others use a self-service approach where you simply pick a plan and provide your payment details, allowing you to set up your account within minutes.
If you need multiple phone numbers, most providers require you to pay your subscription first, then log in using the admin portal to order additional numbers and pay a one-time fee. Others let you pick one or more phone numbers using a number picker tool and add them to your cart.
3. Set Up Your Phone System
Setting up your phone system depends on the provider you choose to go with. This includes your extensions, caller ID, business hours, and voicemail greetings. Utilizing all these features is a huge game-changer in improving team productivity and customer satisfaction. Visit your provider’s help center to learn how to set up a business phone number.
Reasons Why You Need a Business Phone Number
Whether you’re starting a new business or expanding your current one, you’ll likely need a phone number to allow customers to reach you by phone. Here are more reasons why you need to get a business number.
- Separate work and personal calls: Having a dedicated phone number for business prevents your work calls from getting mixed in with your personal contacts. It also prevents you from receiving spam calls on your personal number. Also, business phone numbers include call handling features that let you control when callers should reach you, giving you a better work/life balance.
- Enhance business credibility: Customers are more likely to answer calls from numbers associated with business lines as it leaves an image of credibility and professionalism.
- Advanced calling features: Getting a business number from a VoIP provider provides access to powerful phone features like auto-attendant, call screening, and call transfer. These tools help streamline voice interactions and empower your teams to work from anywhere.
- Multi-device access: Since most phone number providers operate entirely on the cloud, this gives your business excellent flexibility to manage calls on any device, whether it’s from your smartphone, tablet, desktop, or desk phone.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When should I get a business phone number?
It’s important to get a business phone number when you start your business, regardless of size. A study by RingCentral shows that voice calling is still the preferred communication method of most companies, so your business needs to be reachable via phone. Doing so will also make your business look more established, even when you’re just starting out.
Can I use my landline phone number with a VoIP service?
Yes. VoIP providers let you port your existing number into their services for free or reduced price. The process varies by service, but typically, you must ask your VoIP provider to port your number so you can prepare the requirements. You should keep your landline service active during this process until your new VoIP provider says the transfer is complete.
How can I get a free business phone number?
Google Voice provides a free phone number once you sign up for a personal plan using your Google account. Once you sign in, you can select a list of telephone numbers based on the area code. For more information, check out our step-by-step guide to getting a Google Voice number.
A business phone number offers plenty of opportunities for small businesses wanting to build their brand. It provides prospects and customers with a reliable way to reach your business and makes your company look more professional and legitimate.
Getting a business phone number is easy, but you have to consider which type of phone number you need and the right provider to meet your calling needs. For instance, if you want a basic, cheap second phone number to separate business and personal calls, check out Google Voice. Scaling companies needing a full-featured VoIP system are better off with RingCentral.