This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
Free business phone numbers enable small businesses to maintain a professional image and save on costs while effectively separating personal and work-related calls and text messages. To get a free phone number, first determine the type of phone number you need, choose a provider, create an account, choose an available phone number, and finally, start making calls. Follow the five steps below to know how to get a free business phone number.
1. Determine the Type of Phone Number You Need
First, identify the type of phone number your business needs. If you simply need a second number to separate your personal and business calls, you might not mind if it’s a local or toll-free number. Since not all providers offer vanity or toll-free numbers, you should determine which type of phone number you need before picking a provider.
Here are a few of the most popular options and their benefits to small businesses:
A vanity number is a custom local or toll-free number that uses a memorable sequence of letters and numbers. For example, a plumbing service’s vanity number could be 877-PLUMBER or 877-758-6237. Vanity numbers should be easy to remember to increase your brand’s visibility. Providers like Grasshopper offer vanity numbers at no additional cost when you sign up for any of their monthly plans.
A toll-free number is a telephone number that allows the caller to contact your business without incurring any charges. Instead of area codes, toll-free numbers begin with distinct three-digit codes, e.g., 800, 888, or 833. Aside from making your business look professional, toll-free numbers provide customers with a free and convenient way to contact your business.
Local phone numbers are usually identified by their three-digit area code representing a specific region or city. They help your business establish a local presence by using an area code that customers recognize, making it easy for them to get in touch with your team.
Virtual Phone Number
Virtual phone numbers are also known as direct inward dialing (DID) numbers that are either local or toll-free. They are not tied to a specific phone line or device and enable users to route calls through an existing landline or internet-connected device. Virtual phone numbers serve as a secondary number for making and receiving calls to separate your business and personal communications.
International numbers are a good choice for companies wanting to field calls from foreign countries, but don’t need a physical office or a team in their region. When a customer calls your number, the provider routes the call to your domestic phone number, allowing you to answer on your office phone.
For more information about the different types of business phone numbers and how to pick the best for you, check out our guide on choosing a business phone number.
2. Choose a Provider
Once you know which type of phone number you need, it’s time to look for a phone number app and install it on your device. If you need a virtual phone number, consider Skype or Google Voice. For vanity numbers, look at Grasshopper. For those needing a free local number, there’s eVoice or Google Voice. If you need international numbers, providers like 8×8 provide toll-free international numbers for certain regions.
Getting a business phone number for free unlocks additional benefits for your business communications, such as extensive call management functions. To identify the top providers for business use, we created a guide on the best free phone number apps. This guide will discuss the best use case for each provider. Take the quiz below to determine the appropriate phone number provider for you.
Which Free Business Phone Number Provider Is Right for You?
Answer a few questions about your business, and we'll give you a personalized product match.
3. Create an Account
Create an account with your new provider to get your free business phone number. Follow their sign-up process to activate your account. If you have chosen to go with a virtual phone number service, the process will take a few steps, as seen in our guide on how to use Google Voice.
4. Choose an Available Phone Number
After creating an account with your provider, you’ll be asked to choose your free business phone number. Depending on which provider you choose, you will decide between local, vanity, and toll-free numbers.
5. Start Making & Receiving Calls & Texts
Once you’ve obtained your free phone number for your business, you’re now ready to place calls and send text messages. Use it to contact your customers and include it as part of your business contact information to direct incoming calls to the appropriate destination.
Why Is a Business Phone Number Important?
Getting a business phone number for free gives you a second phone number, allowing you to organize business and personal communications. It makes it easier to recognize incoming calls destined for your business, so you know which calls to answer during work hours and which ones to leave after hours.
A phone number service also helps organize business contacts and gives your business a sense of credibility and professionalism. Most full-featured business phone systems offer free numbers as part of their packages, but some of these services might be overkill for small businesses that simply need basic calling features.
Providers offering free phone numbers help control business-related expenses while getting robust communication capabilities. For example, signing up for a free number from Google Voice gives access to features such as call forwarding, a mobile app, messaging backups, and voicemail transcripts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it possible to keep my current business number when switching to a VoIP service?
Yes. Number porting is the process of keeping your business number while taking advantage of voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) features, such as conference calling and call recording. The process depends on your chosen provider, but typically, you need to specifically ask your VoIP provider to port your number.
Which VoIP providers offer vanity numbers?
Am I required to get an existing mobile phone plan?
In many cases, yes. You need a mobile carrier to access a free business phone number. If the Wi-Fi calling feature is unavailable, VoIP providers will route calls through your mobile carrier.
Getting a free business phone number offers greater savings and calling functionality for your business. While you won’t access the same features as you would with a full-featured business phone system, virtual phone number providers are the right fit for small businesses with limited needs.