Small business owners on a tight budget have plenty of essential expenses, but a business phone number doesn’t have to be one of them. Several apps and voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) services provide free virtual business phone numbers that forward business calls to specified devices. This then allows you to connect to customers using a local area code, add a more memorable vanity number, or offer toll-free service at no cost depending on the provider.
Some services provide a free phone number with no strings attached, but others, like full-featured business phone services, require you to be a monthly subscriber to unlock benefits like additional no-cost vanity or toll-free numbers options. Below, we walk you through the different types of free business phone numbers and how to get one for your company.
1. Determine Which Type of Phone Number You Need
First, figure out which type of phone number your business needs. If you just want a second number to separate business calls on your mobile device, you might not care whether it’s a local or toll-free number. Since not every provider offers vanity or toll-free numbers, it’s important to narrow down your choices before choosing a provider.
Here are a few of the most popular options and what makes them beneficial to small businesses:
- Free virtual phone number: Your virtual number can be local or toll-free. It’s a second phone number for receiving incoming and making outgoing calls from your mobile device to separate personal and business phone calls, and you can choose whether it shows up as a number from your local area code or a 1-800 number. Google Voice and Skype both offer free virtual phone numbers.
- Vanity number: A vanity number is a custom local or toll-free number that spells out a word or strings together a memorable set of numbers. For example, a toy store’s vanity number could be 800-Buy-Toys or 888-111-2323. Vanity numbers are typically easier to remember and give your brand increased visibility. Providers like Grasshopper offer vanity numbers at no extra cost when you sign up for a monthly plan.
- Free local numbers: Local phone numbers are usually identified by the first three digits representing a region’s area code. Local numbers give your business a familiar look and feel to customers, letting them know you have a local presence and are part of the community. eVoice and Google Voice both offer free local numbers.
For more information about the difference between the types of business phone numbers and how to pick the type that is best for you, check out our guide on choosing a business phone number.
2. Choose the Right Phone Number Provider
Once you know which type of phone number you need, it’s time to find a phone number app and install it on your device. If you need a virtual phone number, look at Google Voice or Skype. For vanity numbers, turn to Grasshopper. And if you need a free local number, consider eVoice or Google Voice.
To help you identify the top options for professional use, we have created a guide on the best free phone number apps. This guide will also walk you through each provider’s best use case.
3. Sign Up for an Account
Create an account with your new provider to access your free business phone number. Then, follow their signup process to activate your account. If you have chosen to go with a virtual phone number service, the process typically takes only a few steps, as you can see in our guide on how to use Google Voice.
4. Choose Your Free Business 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 may get to decide between free toll-free, local, or vanity numbers, or you may only be presented with a few options to choose from.
5. Start Calling & Texting
You’re now ready to start using your brand-new business phone number. Start using it to contact your customers, and list it as part of your business contact information to direct incoming calls to the right destination.
Why Do You Need a Business Phone Number?
Having a dedicated number for your business separates your business and personal calls and texts without the need to carry around two different phones. You’ll be able to easily recognize incoming numbers destined for your business, helping you know which calls to answer during the work day and which to leave for after-hours.
A phone number service helps you better organize your business contacts, and it also gives your business a level of professionalism. Many full-featured business phone systems offer free numbers as part of their service, but some of these systems can be overkill for small business owners.
Solutions with free phone numbers help you control expenses while unlocking greater communication functionality. For example, if you sign up for a free number from Google Voice, you also get call forwarding, voicemail transcripts, mobile apps, and messaging backups. If you need to make an international call, you can often purchase calling credits from Google Voice for less than what your carrier charges.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I get a free Google phone number for my business?
Download Google Voice on your Android or iOS device or access it via your web browser. Sign in to your Google account (or create one if you don’t have an account yet). Search for available numbers by city or area code. Select the number you want and verify your existing phone number. You can then use your free Google phone number through the Google Voice desktop interface and mobile app.
Which phone number apps provide vanity numbers?
Do I need an existing mobile phone plan?
In most cases, yes, you need to have a mobile carrier to get a free business phone number. If Wi-Fi calling is unavailable for your business number, VoIP platforms will usually route calls through your mobile carrier.
Getting a free business phone number unlocks new calling functionality and savings for your business. While you won’t get the same features as you would with a full-featured business phone system, virtual phone number providers can be the right answer for a small business with limited needs.
Try using a free Google phone number using Google Voice’s Personal Use plan. If you like the platform and its functionality, you can easily upgrade to a paid plan to access additional features, users, and integrations as your business scales.