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Whether you’re a sole entrepreneur or a small startup on the verge of making it big, a virtual business phone number can help you run your business more smoothly and strengthen your brand identity.
Good thing there are a handful of free and low-cost solutions to getting your very own virtual business phone number in no time. Gone are the days of costly landlines and phone services; now, all you need for your own business line is your existing cell phone.
We looked at several of the top virtual phone number providers and compared what they have to offer. Check them out and see what service would fit your business best.
What is a virtual business phone number?
A virtual business phone is an app-based service that allows you to receive and make phone calls on your cell phone, using a phone number of your choosing. You can pick a vanity number that showcases your business or a number with a localized area code. To your customers and clients the phone number works like any other business phone line, but from the business side it provides a lot of control and features without needing to purchase additional hardware.
In addition to offering custom phone numbers, virtual business phone services can act like your very own virtual receptionist. With the services we looked at you can have customizable menu options to route your incoming calls anywhere within your company. These services also allow you to forward calls as you choose, for example, you may wish to route business calls to Voicemail after a particular hour or forward them to your second phone line.
What are the benefits of a virtual business phone number?
There are many great benefits to having a virtual business phone number. Most providers allow you to set up custom phone numbers that your customers will easily remember and can help your brand stand out.
Just imagine how cool it would be if customers were able to schedule classes at your yoga studio by calling 1-800-YOGA-GYM. You can also localize the area code of your virtual phone number if you are trying to reach a particular geographical market.
Many of us have been working from home lately and trying to balance our personal and work lives. Another great attribute of these services is being able to separate your personal and work calls with only one device. We may need to answer a phone call from a family member late at night, but maybe the customer’s call can wait until the morning.
Having a virtual business phone number has the additional advantage of being able to offer professional menu-type answering systems – for example, allowing customers to dial ‘1’ to reach marketing or ‘2’ to reach shipping. These systems make routing the calls within your business seamless.
To sum up, here are a few of the reasons why getting a virtual phone number makes sense:
- You won’t need any additional hardware. Simply use any internet-connected device (e.g. smartphone, tablet, laptop) to access your business calls through an app-based interface.
- You can make your brand stand out with a vanity phone number (e.g. 1-800-CUPCAKE) or appear to be in any number of locations with an area code of your choosing.
- You are no longer tied to a physical location. You can send and receive calls from your business number from anywhere you have access to an internet connection.
- It’s almost like having a virtual receptionist with automated menu options and advanced routing so you can send your clients’ calls to the right places. Some services even offer live receptionist and voice bot services for additional fees.
- With these services you can set your own business hours so you can decide when you want to receive business calls. Maybe you want to use your office phone during work hours but want calls forwarded to your cell phone after closing; now it’s easy as ever to set that up.
- You don’t need to use a new number if you don’t want to. Many services let you port your existing business number to retain your brand identity while gaining access to some of these amazing services.
- Now from a single cell phone you can have access to both your work and personal numbers.
Which providers offer a free business phone number?
We researched the following providers of virtual business phone numbers. What we found was that there weren’t a whole lot of completely ‘free’ options. However, the ones in our list offer either a completely free plan, or a free trial (plus affordable paid plans). The more you pay, the more features and inclusions you get.
Google Voice: Free Plan for Individual Users
Google Voice is a powerful virtual phone platform for your business. The ‘personal use’ tier is free and allows you to have a customized phone number that can be accessed through the web or on any iOS or Android device. This allows you to make and receive your business calls from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. Voicemail, call forwarding and the ability to record calls are all features that are available with the free version of Google Voice.
The paid business tiers (which range from $10-30 a month) open up more services, like the ability to have multiple phone lines localized to different places domestically and internationally, and multi-level auto attendant capabilities to route your calls anywhere. Google Voice is also manageable via Google Workspace so it easily integrates with Google Meet, Calendar and other services. One unique feature is that Google’s advanced AI abilities allow Google Voice to filter spam calls, and automatically transcribe voicemails.
What we liked: Useful integrations with Google apps. Powerful use of AI. 24/7 support. Domestic and international support. Powerful functionality with a user-friendly feel.
What could be improved: Free version is only available in the US. The paid version is limited to just a few countries (US, Canada, the UK, and some European countries). It would be nice if it were more widely available.
- Free for personal users
- Starter plan – $10/month per user. Up to 10 users. Domestic locations only.
- Standard plan – $20/month per user. Unlimited users, domestic locations only. Includes multi-level auto attendant and ring groups.
- Premier plan – $30/month per user. Features unlimited users, international locations, and advanced data analysis tools.
Freshdesk Contact Center (formerly Freshcaller by Freshworks): For Customer Service Teams of All Sizes
Freshdesk Contact Center (formerly Freshcaller) has been around since 2010, and is primarily marketed as a customer service platform. In addition to all of the standard features found in a virtual phone service, Freshdesk Contact Center offers the ability to monitor and barge into calls to speak with both the agent and customer at the same time.
Another vital feature it provides is AI-powered Voicebots to interact with customers even when an agent is unavailable. Being targeted at companies with large workforces, Freshdesk also offers the unique feature of custom holiday routing rules that will ensure your most important calls will be sent to the right phone.
All of these features come at a reasonable price, though the pricing system itself can be a little confusing (there are four plans in total, plus additional Omnichannel plans if you want to purchase Freshdesk’s ticketing, messaging and customer service products). Their Free plan comes with a handful of inclusions, but you are required to purchase your own phone number and pay by the minute for calls. The most expensive plan (Enterprise) costs $69/month and includes 5000 incoming minutes a month, plus many advanced features like voice bots. Learn more about Freshdesk’s plan inclusions here.
What we liked: Great set of tools for customer service functions. Versatile range of plans for companies of different sizes.
What could be improved: Confusing pricing structure (especially as they charge different rates for calls attended on phone vs browser), and many per-minute chargers (which can quickly add up). No unlimited minutes option.
- Free plan – $0/month, pay for own phone number starting at $1/month + per minute call charges. Basic features such as call blocking, custom greetings and messages, and call metrics. Email support only. Missing features such as voicemail, call forwarding, routing, queues etc
- Growth plan – $15/agent/month, 2000 free incoming minutes/month. Includes features such as voicemail, number porting, routing, forwarding, queues, call recording, plus chat and phone support.
- Pro – $39/agent/month, 3000 free incoming min/month. Call conferencing and monitoring, advanced call queuing options, custom reports, bring your own carrier (BYOC), call barging, holiday routing.
- Enterprise plan – $69/agent/month, 5000 incoming min/month, voicebots, omnichannel routing, speech-enabled IVR, service level monitoring.
>Try Freshdesk Contact Center for free
TextFree (by Zendesk): No Bells and Whistles But Completely Free
TextFree does exactly what it says. It is a free program to call and send texts using a free US phone number. The ads in the program keep the service free as long as you are calling or sending texts to another TextFree user. However if you are sending texts outside of that network your carrier’s normal text plan will be used. Calls to non-TextFree users can be made by purchasing or ‘earning’ minutes (e.g. by watching promotional videos).
What we liked: Simple tool for doing just what it says. Can be used via a web browser without the need to install software.
What could be improved: Only U.S. numbers available. Basic features; only texting and calling (over Wifi) available.
Pricing: Free, though may use your carrier’s text plan.
Grasshopper: For Small Teams
Grasshopper was founded in 2003, giving it a long track record in the field of virtual business phone numbers. Grasshopper has many features we prized in a virtual phone number service like the ability to record custom greetings and hold music, set up extensions and handle simultaneous calls.
One unique feature is Grasshopper’s Ruby Receptionist service, which allows you to route incoming calls to a live US-based receptionist who will greet and direct calls as you choose. Grasshopper also offers 24/7 phone support as well as a 7-day free trial. One lacking feature that would be nice is web-based calling. Currently you have to download a desktop or mobile app to make calls unlike Google Voice which allows you to call from any browser window.
The paid plans offered by Grasshopper range in cost from $28/month to $80/month. They all offer the same key features like custom messages, call forwarding, and customizable menu options, but differ in the amount of numbers you can use. The lowest price plan offers one number and 3 extensions while the most expensive plan offers up to 5 phone numbers with unlimited extensions.
What we liked: Custom greetings and messages. Easy setup. Free trial. Live Receptionist service available.
What could be improved: Browser-based calling would be a nice additional feature. Currently only available in the US and Canada.
- Free 7-day trial includes 1 phone number with 3 extensions and 100 business talk minutes.
- Solo Plan- $28/month, 1 phone number, 3 extensions.
- Partner Plan- $46/month, 3 phone numbers, 6 extensions.
- Small Business Plan- $80/month, 5 phone numbers, unlimited extensions.
CloudNumber (by FreedomVoice): Clever Call Routing
CloudNumber is a service offered by Freedom Voice, who have been around since 1996 (and were acquired by GoDaddy in 2016). Like its competitors, CloudNumber offers all of the standard services like custom messages, call forwarding, and custom vanity and local numbers.
Where CloudNumber stands out is in its amazingly flexible ways to address incoming calls. Calls can be routed using Smart Number Routing in which the routing is determined by the number they called from and called to. Another unique feature of call-handling is its Call Rotation system which evenly distributes calls to a group of phone numbers.
CloudNumber also offers a few novel features for an additional cost, like professional voice-over talents to record your greetings, and a library of licensed hold music. CloudNumber offers a 30-day free trial and after that paid plans starting at a low $9.95/month. A couple of things to consider is that the lowest priced and middle priced tiers include only a limited amount of minutes, and additional call minutes are billed at 3.9 cents/minute.
What we liked: Amazingly flexible call routing. Free trial. Unique paid features.
What could be improved: Call time overages could be costly. Only available in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- 30-day free trial
- Start plan – $9.95/month. 400 included minutes.
- Edge plan – $19.95/month. 1200 included minutes.
- Max plan – $29.95/month. Unlimited call minutes.
MightyCall: Stay in Close Contact with Your Customers
MightyCall sets itself apart by being a little more expensive than some of its competitors (although a free 7-day trial is available). However, not having any per call charges on its two highest payment tiers may justify the price if your business handles high call volumes. MightyCall has a beautiful user interface and many features that those managing multiple agents will appreciate.
One area where MightyCall stands out is in its documenting of communications within your business. Using its Journal tool and the ability to record unlimited phone calls you can view your entire communication history with all of your clients in a snap. The easy-to-use graphical interface makes setting up routing quick and easy as well, whether on a desktop or mobile device. You can easily assign routing options for VIP customers, standard customers as well as blocked callers.
As stated MightyCall is a little more expensive than its competitors with the Basic Plan costing $29.99/month and the Ultimate plan costing $99.99/month, but the Ultimate plan includes unlimited minutes (plus they don’t charge per user), so a business with a high call volume may find this beneficial.
What we liked: Beautiful user interface. Easy routing system. Thorough communications history documentation. Ability to record calls. CRM functionality.
What could be improved: Higher subscription fees. No virtual fax support.
- Free 7-day trial
- Basic Plan- $29/month, 1000 free minutes/month, 2 phone numbers.
- Standard Plan- $49.99/month, unlimited minutes, 5 phone numbers, call recording, voicemail transcriptions.
- Ultimate Plan- $99.99/month, unlimited minutes, 10 phone numbers, call recording, high priority support, API.
Sideline (by Zendesk): Affordable and Easy
Sideline is about as streamlined as a virtual phone service can get. It offers all of the basic features you would expect like auto-reply and call forwarding as well as being able to share one number across many devices. Sideline also offers porting of existing numbers, voicemail and texting capabilities.
Sideline’s streamlined features come at a very reasonable price of $9.99/month (on the Standard plan) after a 7 day free trial. This price is even more of a draw considering that Sideline uses the minutes from your carrier’s plan (which are often unlimited) instead of charging per minute like many of its competitors.
The Pro plan takes you a little bit further, with more business-oriented features such as SMS marketing, text reminders, a contact panel and the ability to capture notes.
What we liked: Super streamlined service for basic business phone needs. Inexpensive. Ability to brand your messages with image or logo. Auto-reply features. ‘Team number’ feature to share a phone number across multiple users.
What could be improved: Lacking some features like advanced call routing and metrics. The Pro plan is only available for iOS, and doesn’t support number sharing or international calling.
- Free 7-day trial
- Sideline Standard – $9.99/month, includes group messaging, voicemail transcription and auto-reply. You can also opt for the Team Number plan (same price), which allows you to share your number across your team.
- Sideline Enterprise – $9.99/month/phone line. Includes auto attendant and allows international calling.
- Sideline Pro – $14.99/month. Advanced features such as SMS marketing, reminders, shortcut, contact panel, business hours, and 24/7 support.
Smartline (by GoDaddy): Simple and Affordable With Great Archiving Features
Smartline is a virtual phone system that is really easy to set up and customize. Like its competitors it has many of the standard features like custom phone numbers and voicemails for your incoming business calls. Smartline also allows you to set business hours and call blocking so you can control when you are reachable.
Smartline uses your carrier’s voice minutes so no need to worry about per minute charges coming directly from Smartline. Its organization system also makes it easy to archive all of your communications and sort them by customer.
Smartline has two payment options, a local phone number for $9.99/month or a toll free number for $19.99 a month. Each of these plans also come with a 30 day free trial.
What we liked: Uses carrier minutes instead of charging per minute. Good system of archiving calls.
What could be improved: Not VoIP-based – uses your cell phone network rather than the internet, which may affect coverage/availability.
- 30-day free trial
- Local numbers $9.99/month
- Toll free numbers $19.99/month
Which providers offer cheap business phone numbers?
As you can see, while many of these services offer a trial period or free tier, they often come with limited features or other catches. Here are a few providers that offer more features but still come at a reasonable price.
Wix: Easy Integration With Your Site and Contacts
Wix, known primarily as a website builder, is always adding new features and services. Among its latest offerings is its virtual business phone number service. Like others, it offers the ability to have a dedicated business number routed to your existing cell phone. Wix also allows you to schedule call hours and have customized voicemails.
If you already have a Wix website its phone service also syncs with your existing invoice and scheduling system. Some more advanced features like advanced call routing and monitoring are lacking, but the Wix Phone system would certainly be robust enough for a small business or sole proprietor.
What we liked: Integrates seamlessly with your existing Wix contacts and can be used with your Wix mobile app. Unlimited calling. Easy to set up.
What could be improved: For now, available only in the US and Canada as it uses carrier-based calls (rather than the internet). Lacks advanced routing features. Limited call handling features.
Pricing: Starts at $12/month for a local number and $24/month for a toll-free number.
Nextiva: Powerful Video and Conference Calling
Nextiva offers not only voice support for their Virtual Business Phone service but also includes video calling. It is truly a comprehensive business phone solution providing all of the features a business could need. In addition to an auto attendant menu system, Nextiva also offers advanced routing options and unlimited calls.
Nextiva outpaces the competition when it comes to their conference calling functionality. Their Enterprise plan includes conference calls and video conferences with no limit on participants. This plan also includes unlimited call recording and unlimited video conference recording which is incredible for archival and analytic purposes.
Another cool feature is Call Pop, which displays CRM-saved information about the caller (account value, experience score etc) when they call. Nextiva integrates with Outlook and Google Contacts to easily adapt their system into your current business.
What we liked: Comprehensive business phone solution with robust video capabilities. Integrates with Outlook and Google.
What could be improved: A little more expensive than comparable products.
- Essential Plan – $18.95/user/month, unlimited voice and video calling, auto attendant.
- Professional Plan – $22.95/user/month, unlimited conference calls (40 participants), unlimited video conferences (250 participants). Call pop up to 250 contacts. Integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk etc.
- Enterprise Plan – $32.95/user/month, no limits on conference calls and video conference participants. Voice analytics, voicemail transcriptions. Unlimited call pop.
- Ultimate Plan – $57.95/user/month, sales productivity and pipeline management, customer journey analytics.
CallHippo: Impressive Customer Service Functions
Another service designed to handle complex customer service operations, CallHippo’s list of features is impressive. Aside from your standard business phone features such as call transfers and forwarding, you also get advanced features like automated dialing, the ability to select a provider before making a call, Global Connect to help you identify the best time to call internationally, conference calling, and call barging.
On the Bronze plan upwards there’s even a gamification feature to incentivize call agents with badges and games, which is pretty unique.
For an extra monthly fee, you also have add-ons such as call transcriptions, call tracking insights, and custom caller ID at your service.
What we liked: Lots of advanced features, even on the lowest plan. Over 90 integrations with platforms such as Zendesk, Freshdesk, Hubspot, Salesforce and Slack.
What could be improved: You need to have a minimum of 2 users to purchase the Bronze plan. On this plan, you’re also charged per minute for incoming calls. No inclusions for outbound calls; these are charged per minute.
- Bronze – $14/month/user. Includes 1 free standard number, forwarding, voicemail, teams, shared inbox, skill-based call routing.
- Silver – $24/month/user. Unlimited incoming calls. Includes call recording, queuing, cascading, IVR, holiday routing, gamification.
- Platinum – $25/month/user. With automated dialer, call transfer, 3 way calling, call barging, and call scripts.
Phone.com: Professional Features + Video Conferencing
In addition to a virtual business phone number, Phone.com also provides video conferencing abilities. In general, Phone.com has many features that a business would need, like auto attendant, advanced call routing abilities, and call scheduling.
Phone.com also offers additional paid services like a live receptionist service starting at $90/month and the ability to have an international number starting at $4.99/month. These fees are in addition to the very reasonably priced plans offered by Phone.com starting from $12.99/month. Phone.com is used by many large companies as their business phone solution and it might be the right fit for yours as well.
What we liked: Unlimited minutes on most plans. Ability to add additional services like a live receptionist. Video conference abilities. Low cost (discounts apply to additional users).
What could be improved: Lowest tiered plan is very limited with only 300 minutes allotted.
- Basic Users – $12.99/user/month, 300 minutes, 1000 texts, video conferencing with 10 participants.
- Plus Users – $19.99/user/month, unlimited minutes and texts, video conference with up to 25 participants, video conference recordings.
- Pro Users – $29.99/user/month, call recording, call analytics, video conferences with up to 100 participants.
Ooma: Ideal For Offices
Ooma offers two business phone plans and both include all you would expect from a comprehensive business phone system. Automated receptionist, advanced call routing and scheduling options are all available on both plans, however the higher priced plan includes some additional features like call recording and video conferencing capabilities.
In addition to being able to forward calls to your existing phone, Ooma can also provide more conventional commercial phone hardware suitable for a receptionists’ office or the like.
What we liked: Low cost. Offers video conference and traditional phone systems in addition to call forwarding.
What could be improved: Video conferencing only supports up to 25 users.
- Ooma Office Plan – $19.99/month/user, virtual receptionist, routing options, voicemail.
- Ooma Office Pro – $24.99/month/user, video conferencing, call recording, desktop app, enhanced call blocking.
eVoice: Great Value and Wide Availability
eVoice (or eReceptionist depending on which country you’re in) is a virtual phone number system available in the UK, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and United States. Like many of its counterparts eVoice offers easy call forwarding, and routing as well as customizable phone numbers.
Incoming calls are easily managed by eVoice’s Auto Attendant system which provides menu-like options for your callers. If you find your business needs a personal touch it does offer live receptionist services as well, though they can be quite pricey starting at $139/month for 50 receptionist minutes.
While eVoice does not offer any free trials or versions the Elite monthly service is competitively priced at $14/month, and it provides a 30-day money back guarantee and two free months if you pay annually.
What we liked: Competitive price, easy call routing and forwarding, available in many countries. Ability to host large conference calls.
What could be improved: No free or trial version. Live receptionist service is too costly.
Pricing: Base plan starts at $14/month for 1 user with 3 phone numbers and unlimited extensions. Discounts for annual billing and additional users.
EasyRinger: No-Fuss Service
EasyRinger offers much fewer bells and whistles than some of its more business-oriented competitors, but where it stands apart is allowing the user to create a phone number localized to one of the 26 countries supported across Europe, Asia, and North America. Despite its streamlined features, EasyRinger still supports call forwarding, picking a unique virtual phone number, and interactive call menus.
EasyRinger is competitively priced with local numbers ranging from $10-14/month and toll-free numbers $2 more per month. It offers two pay levels, the higher of which gives access to some of the features like routing up to 10 phones and interactive menus.
What we liked: Streamlined pricing and features. Able to localize numbers to many different countries.
What could be improved: Lacks many of the features that a business might need like call analytics and advanced routing options.
- Standard Plan- $10/month, includes $2 of calling credit a month, forwarding to up to 2 numbers, voicemail support.
- Pro Plan $14/month, includes same features as Standard plus interactive menus and forwarding to up to 10 numbers.
- Toll Free Numbers are $2 more per month.
Skype: Unbeatable Price but Basic Features
Though really aimed at personal use, Skype could be an interesting solution to someone wishing to localize a second business phone number elsewhere in the world. With Skype you are able to pick a phone number from one of 25 countries and provinces around the world. One Skype account can have up to 10 associated numbers, you just have to pay for each one.
Skype lacks any features you might need outside of a second phone line and basic messaging services, but for some small business that may be all they really need. You certainly can’t beat the price with plans starting at $3.59/month for a U.S. number, with discounts if you pay for 2 months or a year upfront.
What we liked: Many people across the world use Skype so it’s easy to get up and running. Inexpensive. Browser-based interface as well as apps.
What could be improved: Lacking in business features. Not able to use toll free number as a business phone.
Pricing: U.S. Unlimited plans start at $3.59/month
With so many services available, there’s no reason not to have top-notch (and affordable) professional phone support for your business. Whether you are a sole proprietor looking to improve your communications and enhance your brand, or an enterprise-level company managing many call agents, you’ll find that there are many free and low-cost tools to elevate your business through a virtual business phone number.
Have any questions about setting up a free business phone number for your business? Let us know in the comments below!
We keep our content up to date
11 Jan 2023: Price increase for Grasshopper
2 Feb 2022: Freshdesk Contact Center (formerly Freshcaller) name change plus pricing updates
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