A virtual phone number is a cloud-hosted phone number that lets you communicate seamlessly from anywhere using an internet-connected device. It isn’t tied to a fixed location, making it ideal for remote teams and those who want to have a familiar local area code. Pricing depends on the service provider, but it usually starts at $10. Keep reading to learn what a virtual phone number is, its benefits, and the top providers to consider.
How a Virtual Phone Number Works
A virtual phone number, also called direct inward dialing (DID) number, uses voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) to route calls over the internet. It follows the same traditional phone number format—area code followed by seven digits. It isn’t tied to a physical address, so you can choose numbers beyond your local area code, giving businesses a local presence in a certain geographic region.
To use a virtual phone number, you need reliable internet and a compatible device, such as a desktop or mobile device. Through a virtual phone service, users have access to various telephony features, such as an automated attendant, custom greetings, voicemail, and call forwarding. Virtual phone number types include local, toll-free, vanity, and international numbers.
Top Virtual Phone Number Providers
While many virtual phone number providers exist, each differs in pricing and features. Before selecting a provider, consider the features you need, your budget, and the number of users you want to connect with. Here are the top virtual phone number providers to choose from:
Virtual Phone Number Providers
Monthly Starting Price (per User)
Types of Virtual Phone Numbers
$31 for unlimited users
*Google Voice offers a free personal plan.
Looking for a cheaper or more extensive solution? We’ve rounded up a list of the best virtual phone number providers.
How to Get a Virtual Phone Number
Now you know more about what is a virtual phone number, getting it from a VoIP phone service only takes a few steps. The challenge lies in choosing the right service provider and which type of phone number you need. Once you’ve decided, the process will only take a few minutes.
The following steps explain how to get a virtual phone number:
- Step 1: Once you’ve selected a VoIP provider, go to its pricing page on its website and select your desired plan.
- Step 2: Choose the area code and seven-digit phone number using the number picker tool. Indicate the type of phone number (local or toll-free) and the number of virtual phone lines you need. Otherwise, if you want to keep your existing number, look for the number porting option.
- Step 3: After choosing the area code and phone number, you will proceed to account creation. Provide your company name, address, email, and contact number.
- Step 4: Provide your payment details on the checkout page.
- Step 5: Configure how you want to route all incoming calls to your new phone number. This means setting up the auto-attendant, extensions, caller ID, and greetings.
Our guide about how to get a free business phone number provides a more comprehensive walk-through on setting up your virtual phone line.
Virtual vs Traditional Phone Numbers
One way to learn more about what is a virtual phone number is to find out how it compares to traditional phone numbers. If you haven’t decided whether to get your phone number from a VoIP solution or landline service, below is a quick comparison of what a virtual phone line is vs traditional phone numbers.
Traditional Phone Numbers
Virtual Phone Numbers
Type of Connection
(tied to a fixed physical address)
(accessible on any internet-connected device)
Desk phone, desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile device
Number of Users
One user at a time
Hardware & Maintenance Cost
The company should cover all the costs
No setup and installation fees, but hardware is optional
Phone numbers were traditionally designed to use a single phone line connected physically from the landline company to your business or home. All calls made using that number will only be sent to a specific location. While it doesn’t rely on high-speed internet, landlines are costly to set up and maintain.
Virtual phone numbers, on the other hand, provide users with greater control and flexibility over how they receive calls by eliminating physical limitations. Since they’re cloud-based, you’re able to receive all your incoming calls and messages from anywhere on any internet-connected device. On top of it, providers of business phone systems package them with rich call features, such as auto-attendant, call forwarding, and visual voicemail.
Benefits of a Virtual Phone Provider
Virtual phone numbers open several opportunities for businesses wanting to separate their personal and work-related calls. Some businesses invest in these services to establish a local presence in a certain key area. Here are the reasons switching to virtual phone numbers is a great idea for your business:
- Receive calls anywhere: Virtual phone numbers aren’t tied to a physical location, allowing you to receive calls from your desktop, desk phone, or smartphone. This largely benefits international companies and remote employees wanting to make calls anywhere in the world.
- Localize phone numbers: Customers are more likely to answer calls from a local phone number than one they don’t recognize. With a virtual number, your business can request a different area code—one that your customers will easily recognize. This helps create a local presence and personalized phone interactions.
- Organize work and personal calls: Manage all your calls and messages from one device while keeping your personal and work communications separate. It significantly enhances your business image by keeping your communications organized and avoiding the cost of carrying a separate phone.
- Advanced VoIP functionality: Virtual phone number providers offer additional VoIP features on top of the phone number purchase. It comes in the form of tiered plans with standard call management features, such as call forwarding, call recording, call transfer, and ring groups. These features are especially useful in helping your business communicate more efficiently.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes. Most VoIP providers allow the purchase of multiple virtual phone numbers, whether of the same or different number types. Pricing for additional phone numbers starts at $5 per line, monthly. Providers like Phone.com offer discounts for volume purchases.
Yes. However, like any cloud-based service, there are potential cybersecurity risks. VoIP providers implement various security and data privacy measures to protect company and customer data. Security protocols may include transport layer security (TLS), secure real-time transport protocol (SRTP), and compliance with global regulations. For additional measures, check your provider’s security policies before committing to its services.
The answer depends on which VoIP provider you will use to purchase your virtual phone number. Some VoIP providers, like RingCentral, offer “Enhanced 911 service” that automatically ties a specific location and the caller’s callback number to the 911 call.
A virtual phone number is an excellent solution to project a professional brand image without tying yourself to a specific location or device. It provides access to various VoIP features and the flexibility to manage your remote communications. With a virtual phone system, it’s easy to find low-cost plans and a virtual phone number to separate your work and personal lives.