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What is a toll-free number?

A toll-free number is a telephone number featuring a special area code that does not charge callers. Toll-free number prefixes include 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833.

The "toll-free" portion applies to consumers, in particular, those with landlines. Companies subsidize the cost of inbound calls using their phone service provider.

Consumers endow a higher trust when a small business uses a toll-free number instead of a local number.

Historically, landlines didn't let consumers call outside of their local area without paying additional tolls. Direct response advertisers capitalized on these well-known three-digit codes.

A vanity phone number is a catchy toll-free business number that spells a word or phrase. Vanity toll-free numbers are powerful enough to define your brand like 1-800-CONTACTS.

Benefits of toll-free numbers

There are many advantages to these special business phone numbers. Businesses use toll-free numbers to:

  • Establish trust. Increase your company's legitimacy for prospects and customers.

  • Expand markets. Toll-free business numbers let you achieve a national presence.

  • Track advertising. Measure the incoming calls from different marketing campaigns.

  • Reach more people. Let people with landlines dial your company.

  • Streamline calls. Let go of confusing phone numbers and use one main number.

  • Route calls. Set up toll-free numbers with call routing to specialized teams.

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Business Phone Service Benefits

Helpful terms to know about toll-free numbers

Benefits Mark
Area code

A three-digit code prefixed to a local calling area. Toll-free numbers are exempt from calling restrictions.

Benefits Mark
Caller ID

The phone number of a caller dialed into a business phone system.

Benefits Mark

Interactive voice response (IVR) uses voice recognition and call routing to guide callers to the right agent.

Benefits Mark
Auto attendant

Auto attendants provide a menu of options to callers so they can reach the right agent.

Benefits Mark

Dialed Number Identification Service identifies both the caller ID and the number a person called before they are connected to an agent.

Benefits Mark

The method to move your existing number to a new business phone service. It's regulated by the FCC.

Benefits Mark
Call forwarding

A feature of a business phone system to redirect calls to another person, team, or phone number.

Benefits Mark

The Federal Communications Commission is a government agency that regulates communications, including toll-free services.

Benefits Mark
Visual voicemail

The ability to manage voicemail messages from a convenient business phone mobile app.

Our customers said life became easier after switching to Nextiva.

Eric Siu "We love Nextiva's reliability and features like call pop, free online faxing, auto attendant, IVR and call routing. It gives us the appearance of a bigger, more polished business." Eric Siu CEO, Single Grain
Chris Brencans "Countless sales have been done on the Nextiva mobile app. We couldn't run our business without it. Since adopting Nextiva in 2016, we've seen 203% revenue growth." Chris Brencans CMO, On The Map Marketing

Toll-free phone number FAQs

A toll-free number is a business phone number that people can call at no cost. The owner of the number incurs all costs. Even a payphone can place calls to toll-free business numbers.

Toll-free numbers are assigned a specific three-digit prefix such as 800, 888, or 866. These prefixes are not geographically specific, so it gives the impression that this number and the attached company are everywhere.

The first three-digit toll-free code to be released back in 1966 was 800. It remained the only one for 30 years until 888 was established in 1996. Because it was the lone toll-free code for so many years, toll-free numbers became known as 800 numbers.

Since 1996, only five more toll-free codes have been created. These are 877, 866, 855, 844, and 833.

For consumers, toll-free numbers have less importance due to the rise of cell phones that provide unlimited nationwide calling. Besides the calling cost, consumers rate businesses as more trustworthy if they have a toll-free business number.

Yes, the FCC mandates that authorized parties may transfer their business phone number to any other phone service provider. You may transfer your mobile phone number, Google Voice number, or any other telephone number.

Unlike some carriers, Nextiva includes free porting with all accounts. This lets you port in your existing 800/866/888 number. When you port a phone number, you’re taking it from one carrier and moving it to another.

If you're porting, don't discontinue service at your old number until toll-free calls are being handled by your new provider.

If you don't have a business phone number today, you can acquire a new one in just a matter of minutes. Check with your new VoIP phone system to pick out a new number. Not all numbers support texting, so inform the new carrier you want to send and receive text messages.

Yes, Nextiva offers toll-free numbers for its online fax service. Nextiva does not charge an additional fee for this service, and customers who fax you will not be charged any long distance fees.

Toll-free fax numbers can be added to any Nextiva account. For more information on this service, read this support article.

Calls made to a toll-free number, both outgoing and incoming, go directly to the owner of the number. The caller is never charged, which makes it convenient for them to call.

Depending on the number of business calls, the costs can be pretty high. It's essential to select a VoIP phone system that supports your business needs. You might only want to use the toll-free number for high-value calls and offer local phone numbers for existing customers.

The cost of a toll-free number varies. Nextiva includes a toll-free number with its Business Phone Service, along with many advanced features like call recording, conference calling, and business texting.

Business owners looking to brand their live support enjoy the benefits of a toll-free vanity number.

A toll-free vanity number is the same as any toll-free number. However, the digits that make up the phone number can spell out a specific name or phrase. This is used by businesses that want their number to be easier to remember and coincide with corporate branding.

Here are a few prime examples of famous vanity numbers include:

  • 1-800-FLOWERS
  • 1-800-CONTACT
  • 1-800-BATTERY
  • 1-877-KARS4KIDS
  • 1-800-MATTRESS

A vanity number can be beneficial when it comes to brand recognition. It’s something that can be featured on a billboard, commercial, or an online advertisement. Keep in mind that the word or phrase in question can’t be more than seven characters long.

The reality is that many desirable vanity numbers are already taken. You can look to a number service like NumberBarn to acquire and transfer toll-free vanity numbers over.

A virtual phone number is a telephone number that isn’t bound to a fixed location. Virtual numbers can be used to make or receive calls on any phone, such as VoIP desk phones, cell phones, or softphones. It’s perfect for employees in the office, or those who work at home.

Since cloud phone systems operate exclusively over the internet, setting up a virtual phone system is quick and easy. Just download an app or plug a desk phone into your router, and your virtual phone number will begin working.

Your toll-free phone number can direct calls to your team via call routing. Your team doesn't even need a physical phone. If they have a smartphone like an Android or iPhone, they can accept incoming calls.

A toll-free number works in a similar way to other business phone numbers, except business owners may need to pay per minute for inbound calls. Nextiva includes up to 2,500 toll-free minutes, starting at $20.95 per month.

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