How to Get a Toll Free Number

(The Complete Guide for Small Business Owners)

UniTel Voice Offers Toll Free Numbers in Every Area Code

(800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, & 833)

  • Get a toll free number instantly
  • Pick a custom vanity number
  • Transfer your existing 800 number
  • Get a toll free number instantly
  • Pick a custom vanity number
  • Transfer your existing 800 number

5 Types of Businesses Who Should Invest in a Toll Free Number

1. Startups & Small Businesses

Whether you’re just getting your business started or you’re an established company, getting a toll free number makes a lot of sense. If you’re a startup, an 800 number can give you instant credibility because people recognize toll free numbers as trusted business numbers. If you’re a growing company, using a 1-800 number allows your business to scale, expand locations, and change phone system needs without interrupting your customer calls.

2. E-commerce Businesses

If you’re business operates online and you don’t have a physical address (ex. web designer, ecommerce store, subscription-based business, consultant, etc.) you should definitely get a toll free number. In addition to credibility, an 800 number gives your ecommerce business a nation-wide presence, so you can appeal to customers anywhere in North America opposed to using a phone number with a local area code that makes you seem like a local mom & pop shop.

3. Franchise Businesses

Whether you’ve successfully franchised your company or you’re hoping to one day franchise your business, getting a corporate 800 number is a good idea. Having one centralized business phone number and phone system that connects your franchises may play a critical role in allowing you to scale and expand your operations to multiple locations across different cities.

4. Local Service Businesses

If you’re local business that serves a local area without a physical location that customers visit (e.g., plumber, food truck, landscaping business, etc.), you should consider buying a toll free vanity number (i.e., a toll free number that spells a world like: 1-888-PLUMBER). This will make it easier for your customers to remember your business number especially if you’re advertising it on a billboard or on the side of your truck. And secondly, if you expand your services to other regions, using a toll free phone number doesn’t limit you to a local area code.

5. Home Based Businesses

Much like startups, home-based business owners want to project a professional image and make customers feel like they are dealing with an established business who can meet their needs. Using a toll free 800 number (especially a custom vanity number) in conjunction with a virtual office phone system can help home-based businesses look and sound more professional.

6 Different kinds of Toll Free Service Providers You Should Consider

1. Vanity Number Brokers

Vanity number brokers help businesses secure hard-to-find custom 800 numbers and other vanity numbers in any toll free prefix. Typically, you would purchase a vanity toll free number for a one-time fee ranging from $50 – $10,000 (or more) and then transfer the vanity number to a toll free service provider of your choice. Trying to find a good number that’s available for purchase is harder than trying to find and buy the perfect domain name for your business. The fact is, there’s a limited supply available toll free numbers and oftentimes another business has already beaten you to the punch. In some cases these service providers may offer virtual local numbers as well.

  •  Pros

  • Makes it easier to find vanity 800 numbers
  • Allows you to transfer your number to any carrier
  •  Cons

  • Can be pretty expensive
  • Can take weeks to transfer your number to a carrier

2. Business Number Renters

This type of toll free service provider rents vanity phone numbers to business owners in specific geographic locations. For example, a dental office in Huston could use and advertise 1-855-DENTIST and at the same time a dentist office in Chicago could use and advertise the same business number. Customers who call the phone number from a Huston area code will be routed to the Huston dentist. Customers who call the number from Chicago will be routed to the Chicago-based dentist.

  •  Pros

  • You can get a great vanity 800 number
  • It’s super easy to set up
  •  Cons

  • It’s very expenive (but it’s pretty easy to track ROI)
  • You don’t own the vanity number

3. Virtual Phone System Providers

Virtual phone system providers (like UniTel Voice) allow small business owners and entrepreneurs to run their business using cell phones and still have all the power of a professional business telephone system. It’s essentially a cloud-based business phone system with a virtual PBX that works with your existing phones (cell, home, or office). You can choose to use a toll free or local number as your main business phone number, when your customers call your business line they are greeted and routed to the proper extension, phone, or voicemail.

  •  Pros

  • Inexpensive way to get a toll free number loaded with phone system features
  • You own your numbers and can port them to another provider at anytime
  • There’s no equipment required, easy to set up & works with your existing phones
  •  Cons

  • If you require a complex IVR, the auto attendant may be too limited for your needs
  • If you want a physical desk phone, you would need to set up additional phone service

4. Full Business VoIP Phone Services

A full business voiceover IP solution offers customers physical IP-phones and computer-based soft-phones that use your local internet service to make and receive calls. The big difference between a virtual phone systems and a full VoIP solutions is virtual phone systems work with your existing phones (usually cell phones) and have unlimited users but per minute pricing, whereas full business VoIP requires equipment (IP-phones, special routers, and high speed internet) to work and are priced per user (although even with VoIP providers, adding toll free phone line is almost always an additional per minute cost).

  •  Pros

  • Includes robust customizable IVR and auto attendant
  • Provides you with physical desktop phones with dial-tone
  • Local calling is typically unlimited but toll free phone lines are an additional cost
  •  Cons

  • Expensive, you’re charged per user, per toll free line, and must pay for equipment/internet
  • Complicated to set up of software and hardware, requires reconfiguring your office’s internet setup

5. SIP Trunk Toll Free Number Service

SIP trunks are telephone line “trunks” delivered over IP using the SIP protocol. This allows VoIP telecom providers to connect one or more toll free phone lines to a customer’s existing PBX. SIP trunking a toll free or DID number is typically cheaper than simply forwarding a toll free or local number to your existing telephone lines. That’s why most high call volume call centers use SIP trunk toll free service. SIP trunking also allows for international toll free forwarding because it’s internet-based.

  •  Pros

  • Very cheap toll free number service
  • Once it’s set up your done
  •  Cons

  • Expensive, you’re charged per user, per toll free line, and must pay for equipment/internet
  • Complicated to set up of software and hardware, requires reconfiguring your office’s internet setup

6. Traditional Toll Free Service Providers

Traditional toll free service was provided over the old Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), with its Analog, ISDN BRI, E1 or t1 lines. Although this type of phone service is still offered by many telecom carriers it mostly being phased out by the much more modern, flexible and affordable SIP trunk services.

  •  Pros

  • Simple to set up
  • Reliable call quality (however today, well managed VoIP networks can be just as good)
  •  Cons

  • Typically more expensive
  • Less flexibility and features

7 Reasons Your Startup Must Get an 800 Number to Survive

1. You’ll Look More Legit

When it comes to looking credible, startups need all the help they can get. You don’t have the typical trust symbols that established businesses has (i.e., testimonials, online reviews, PR mentions etc.) and that can make customer acquisition a challenge. That’s why the little things matter, like having a professional logo, website, and business phone number. And the most trusted and recognized types of business phone numbers are toll free 1-800 numbers.

2. You’ll Sound More Legit

Sounding legit is just as important as looking legit. When people call your business, do you want it to sound like they are calling a guy sitting at home in his underwear, or do you want to sound like you’re a Fortune 500 company? You want to sound like an established company, and you can with a toll free number service enhanced with virtual phone system features. Virtual phone system providers like UniTel Voice, give entrepreneurs all the power of a professional sounding business phone system without the high cost or need for equipment. When your customers call your business, they’ll hear a professional auto attendant, just like they would if they called a business with a $50,000 business phone system.

3. You’ll be More Flexible

For on-the-go entrepreneurs, you need to be able to run your business from your cell phone. Getting a toll free number with a virtual office phone system in place will give you the flexibility to run your business from anywhere. When customers call your 800 number, they’re greeted and routed to you and your team, wherever you may be: at home, the office, or on the go. Toll free service providers like UniTel Voice offer these types of cloud-based features that can help startups sound professional and stay connected.

4. You’ll Be More Scalable

Establishing a toll free line as your primary business phone number is smart because it ensures you can scale. As you grow your startup, you may move offices, expand to new locations, add new members of your team, and need to switch phone service providers. If you’re using a toll free number as your primary business line you can easily port or route it to meet the needs of your changing business operations.

5. You’ll Own Your Number

Just like your company’s name, logo, and website address, your phone number is an important business asset. As you invest time and money into advertising and promote your company’s phone number, you need to ensure you own your phone number. If you make a change (e.g., you move locations or need a new phone system) you need to know you can take your business phone number with you. That’s a critical reason you should buy a toll free number, because unlike local numbers, they are protected by special FCC porting rules that ensure you can easily transfer your business number from one provider to another without service interruption.

6. You’ll Be More Memorable

When you’re a startup, every sale counts and establishing your brand is key. Getting a great vanity toll free number can help build your brand and close more sales. Vanity numbers spell a word related to your brand or value proposition that makes it easy to remember. Buying a custom toll free vanity number is especially useful for service based companies who advertise on billboards, radio, or even the side of their truck. Although vanity 800 numbers can also be excellent for ecommerce businesses who build their whole identity around their telephone number. Take 1-800-FLOWERS or 1-800-CONTACTS for example – their brand is their number.

7. You’ll Save Money

Setting up a toll free phone line use to be an expensive and time consuming undertaking. Now, with cloud-based phone companies like UniTel Voice, you can purchase a cheap toll free number with all the features you need for as little as $10 per month. Signing up is instant, there’s no hardware to set up or software to download. As your business grows and you need a more robust phone solution, you can move your business’s number to the service provider of your choice.

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8 Amazing Things Toll Free Numbers Can Do with UniTel Voice

1. Forward to Any Phone

Traditional toll free lines only simple forward to one phone number (called a designated ring-to number). With UniTel Voice, your toll free phone number can be configured to forward to multiple greetings, extensions, phones or voicemails. You can customize the call forwarding order based on the time of day and day of the week. You can also manage your call forwarding online and make changes in real time.

2. Track Marketing ROI

You spend a lot of money marketing your business and tracking your return on investment (ROI) is paramount to your growth strategy. With UniTel Voice, you can add as many toll free numbers as you want to your account for just $4.99/month and designate a number for each marketing channel. For example, you could have one number on your website, one number for your radio ad and one number for your online ads. This would allow you to track the incoming calls for each number to determine which channel is getting the highest call volume.

3. Send & Receive Faxes

With UniTel Voice, your toll free number doubles as an internet fax line. This means your customers can call or fax your 800 number, calls will be greeted and routed to the proper extension or phones, and faxes will be sent to you as a PDF email attachment. Your faxes are also available in your phone system’s online management portal and via UniTel Voice’s smartphone app for iPhone and Android.  If you need to send a fax, you simply log into your account, click the fax tab, upload your document (like you would an email attachment), type in your customer’s fax number and click send. No need for a fax machine.

4. Voicemail to Email

If you miss a call on your UniTel Voice number, instead of going to your cell phone’s personal voicemail for example, the call can go to your company’s virtual voicemail box, so your caller hears a professional sounding unavailable greeting. After your customer leaves their message, the voicemail is then sent straight to your email inbox. It can also be retrieved via your online management portal or your smartphone app. This voicemail to email service allows you to run your business from any phone, anywhere and still stay connected and sound professional.

5. Send & Receive SMS Texts

One of the cool add-on features UniTel Voice offers is toll free SMS text messaging, which allows your customers to text your toll free number. Your customers can text you questions about your product or service or text you to receive a special discount or promotion. It’s up to you! Here’s more on how toll free texting works with you UniTel Voice.

6. Find-Me/Follow-Me

Never miss a call again. With UniTel Voice, you can set up your call forwarding to find you wherever you go. For example, calls can first ring your office desk. You don’t answer? The call can then ring your home phone. No answer there either? No problem, the call can then route to your cell phone. Still no answer? Don’t worry, UniTel Voice’s virtual receptionist will take the call and email you your customer’s voicemail so you can follow up and close the sale.

7. Setup a Hotline

Whether you’re planning an event, running a special promotion, or even experiencing an emergency, the ability to set up a dedicated hotline in a pinch can be extremely useful. And you can with UniTel Voice. You simply login to your account click add a toll free number and then set up that number’s call forwarding and voicemail. That’s all it takes to wipe up an inexpensive, reliable and customizable toll free number hotline.

8. Port to Any Provider

You spend tons of time and money advertising your business telephone number, so it’s important to know you own it. Just like your business’s website, your business’s 1-800 number is an asset you want to control and own. And with UniTel Voice, you own your toll free number – no strings attached. If at any time you want to move your number to another phone service provider, you can do so without any cancelation fees or porting fees. Your business number is your company’s asset.

9 Secrets to Getting the Perfect Custom Toll Free Vanity Number

1. Think Brand Name

If you’re looking to find the perfect customer 800 number for your business, start with your brand name. When Comcast launched their re-brand “Xfinity” along with the new name came new brand assists including: a new logo, website, and overall look and feel (new colors, fonts, and imagery). Additionally, one of the first brand assets they scooped up was 1-800-XFINITY, because just like your website, your number is a public-facing touch-point and a portal your customers use to reach your company. Another route to go is to make your number your brand, like 1-800-FLOWERS or 1-800-CONTACTS.

2. Think Value Proposition

Can’t find a toll free 800 number that spells your business’s name? Think about your value proposition and the services you provide. Are you a mortgage broker? You might try to find custom toll free numbers with the phase “EZ-Loans, Easy Loan, or Fast Loan etc. Many times vanity numbers that use value propositions are easier to remember because they put your company’s services in context. And if your company’s name is easy to misspell you might want to go this route just so people don’t accidently dial the wrong number.

3. Think Action Words

Another great tip for finding a good (and available) toll free vanity numbers is using verbs like: “GET” “CALL”, “SAVE”, “BUY” or “SELL”. Here’s some examples: A loan company might use: 1-800-GETLOAN. A cab company might use 1-888-CALLCAR. A doctor’s office might use 1-877-CALLDOC. A discount store might use 1-866-YOUSAVE. A realtor could use 1-855-BUYHOME. A car dealership could use 1-844-SELLCAR. Can’t find a verb that works? Try adding attention getting action words or number combinations that add emphasis like: “NOW”, “FREE”, “HELP” “101”, or “411”.

4. Think Repeating Digits

Another great trick for getting a great custom toll free number is using repeating digits. For example if your brand name is short like “Nike”, a few great vanity number ideas would be: 1-800-000NIKE, or 1-888-888NIKE, or even using sequential numbers like 1-877-123NIKE or 1-866-NIKE123. Whether you decide to use your brand name, a value proposition or an action word, you can easily put repeating or sequential numbers in front or behind the word to get a great memorable custom vanity number for your business.

5. Think Numbers Only

It makes sense to get a vanity 800 number because it’s easy to remember and it reinforces your brand, however finding an available toll free number with the perfect word or phrase is harder than finding the perfect website address—there’s simple fewer options. If you’re not advertising on the radio, TV, a side of a truck or on a billboard where getting a vanity number makes the most sense because people have a limited time to remember the number, you should consider getting an easy to dial custom toll free number (e.g., 855-555-0505 or 888-234-0404). If you’re primarily acquiring leads from your website a vanity number with words isn’t as important.

6. Think Alternative Prefixes

If you can’t find a vanity number with the toll free prefix 800 available, try 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 or the new toll free 833 numbers. The toll free prefix 800 was first released in the 1960s, so it’s very hard to find a true vanity 800 number available, because almost all of them are in use. In most cases, you’re going to have to find a number with an alternative prefix like: 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, 833 or the next to be released toll free 822 numbers. (Side note: Technically, “800” is not a prefix, it’s a toll free area code, but because people often refer to the first three digits of a toll free telephone number as the “prefix”, it has become acceptable within the telecom industry to refer to it as such.)

7. Think Over-Dials

What do you do if your business’s name or the word/phrase you want to use is longer than 7-digits? You can use over-dials. An over-dial is a digit that represents part of a word, but is irrelevant to the dialing of the number.  Confused? Here’s an example: Think of the insurance company “Progressive”. They use the number 1-800-PROGRESSIVE. In this case the letters “SIVE” within 1-800-PROGRESSIVE are called over-dials because if someone picks up a phone and dials this number the call will connect after they’ve dialed the first 10 digits: 800PROGRES any number they press after that is called an over-dial.

8. Think 833 Then 822

Your absolute best bet for getting a great custom vanity number is right when a new toll free prefix is released. In fact, before a new number is released, there’s an announcement and an opportunity to pre-order it. Unfortunately, these releases only happen every several years. The newest toll free prefix to be release is 833 and there are still loads of great 833 numbers available. But if you want to be savvy you’ll want to set up a Google Alert for the release announcement of 822 so you can be first in line to snap up a great number as soon as it’s available.

9. Think UniTel Voice

When you search for available vanity numbers on UniTel Voice’s website, you’re searching the FCC regulated national toll free number database in real time. This is the database where all toll free phone numbers that are not in use reside, it’s also referred to as the “spear pool”. We’ve developed a search tool that allows you to search this database by numeric combinations or words. And if you cannot find what you are looking for, contact us and we’ll search for you. Just give us a few words or phrases you’d like and we’ll brainstorm ideas, do a thorough search and email you the numbers we find—no obligation to purchase. We’re always happy to help you find the perfect number for your business.

20 FAQs on Toll Free 800 Numbers

1. Are toll free 800 numbers dead?

No, far from it. Toll free numbers are more popular today than they were when they first became available over 40 years ago. There’s a few reasons why. Toll free numbers give businesses a nationwide presence, they have special portability rules that make them easy to move from service provider to service provider, and it’s easier to find a vanity toll free number than it is a local number.

2. Is toll free number service expensive?

Oh yeah. UniTel Voice offers a low-cost/high-quality toll free service for businesses of all size. Plans start at just $10/month.

3. Can anyone in North America call a toll free number?

Yes. Toll free numbers are part of the North American dialing plan. They can make and receive calls from anywhere in North America.

4. Can people outside of North America call a toll free number?

No, people calling from outside of North America cannot call a phone number with a toll free area code.

5. Can you call forward a toll free number to a phone outside of the US?

Yes, but international rates may apply.

6. If I purchase a 1-800 number from UniTel Voice do I own it?

Yes. With UniTel Voice you are not renting the number, you own it outright and can port it to another provider at any time.

7. Can I transfer my existing toll free number to UniTel Voice?

Yes, with UniTel Voice you can get a new toll free number or keep your existing one and just port it over to your account.

8. How much does it cost to add additional toll free numbers to my UniTel Voice account?

You can add additional numbers (aka “add-on numbers”) for $4.99/month per number.

9. Can I call forward my 1800 number to my cell phone?

Yes, with UniTel Voice you can forward your toll free number to any phone (home, office, cell, VoIP or landline). You can also answer calls on our smartphone app.

10. If I forward my toll free number to another phone do I still use my toll free number’s minutes?

Yes, when you forward your toll free number to another phone, you are still using UniTel Voice’s network to receive and carry the call, therefore you’re still using your plan’s minutes.

11. How are toll free phone number minutes billed?

Your toll free minutes are billed in 6 second increments – so if you don’t talk for a full minute you aren’t charged for one.

12. Is UniTel Voice a cheap toll free service provider?

Yes, we’re one of the most competitively priced toll free service providers out there but where we try to differentiate ourselves from our competitors is on call quality, system features and customer support.

13. What are “true 800” numbers?

“True 800 numbers” refer to toll free numbers with the area code 800. 800 numbers are the most recognized of all toll free numbers which come in several other area codes or toll free prefixes.

14. If I call an 800 number and it’s disconnected, can I purchase it?

Not necessarily. May 800 numbers may not ring through to an active ring-to number, but it doesn’t mean the number is “not in use” and available to purchase. Unfortunately, there are loads of 800 numbers in this state and there’s really no way of contacting the owner of the number to offer to purchase the number.

15. Why is it so hard to find a vanity 800 number?

Because true 800 numbers are almost all used up and the good ones are being held hostage by phone companies that “rent” them out geographically. It’s much easier to find a vanity toll free number in a newer toll free prefix like 855, 844 and 833, as there are more available.

16. Are 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 and 833 numbers toll free numbers?

Yup. And they work the same way as 800 numbers.

17. Can I purchase a toll free number outright from UniTel Voice?

Sure. Just sign up for a number on any plan and transfer your number to another provider while your account is active.

18. Can UniTel Voice toll free numbers send and receive faxes?

Yes, with UniTel Voice your toll free number can receive calls and/or send and receive faxes to email.

19. Can UniTel Voice toll free phone numbers send and receive SMS text messages?

Yes, you can activate toll free SMS texting for $4.99/month on any toll free number.

20. Can you get a Google Voice toll free number?

At this time Google Voice doesn’t offer toll free numbers but you could purchase a toll free number from UniTel Voice and call forward it to your Google Voice number – of course – since your UniTel Voice number comes loaded with business phone system feature you might not even need Google Voice anymore. In fact, UniTel Voice is an excellent Google Voice alternative for businesses of any size.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Toll Free Numbers [Infographic]

Just for fun, we created an infographic illustrating some interesting facts about 800 numbers you probably didn’t know. The infographic answers the question: What does sex lines, the FBI, Dancing with the Stars, a multimillion dollar flower shop, spending $1.32 million on the word YELLOWPAGES, and the 1960’s “Mad Men era” have to do with toll free numbers? Well, before you buy a 1-800 number for your own business, you might want to scroll down to find out.

Facts about toll free numbers infographic