At one point or another, you’ve probably dialed a 1-800 number to ask questions, get help, or connect to a sales rep. These phone numbers are called toll-free numbers, because they are completely free for the person placing the call.

But what is a toll-free number exactly? Below, we share everything you need to know about toll-free numbers, including what they are, how they work, what they cost, and how to get one for your business. 

What is a toll-free number?

GIF of a man yelling "free"

A toll-free number is a phone number where the recipient — not the caller — foots the bill. Business owners often use toll-free numbers so customers and prospects can get help without worrying about a looming (and expensive) long-distance phone call. 

A toll-free number usually begins with area codes like 800, 888, or 833 (more on this below). Whatever the format, the process is the same: Dialing a toll-free number is free to the caller, with the inbound call being charged to the recipient.

Is there a difference between 800, 888, 877, and other area codes?

All toll-free numbers begin with a three-digit prefix beginning with the number eight. There are seven different toll-free prefixes available, including 855, 800, 833, 844, 866, 877, and 888. 

There is absolutely no difference between phone numbers with any of the above formats. However, they are not interchangeable — if you dial someone with a 1-800 area code, you will reach someone different than if you dialed the same number beginning with 1-888.

What is a vanity number?

A vanity number is a phone number that spells out a word or phrase. 1-800-flowers and 1-800-contacts are examples of vanity numbers. It is a marketing and sales technique to make it easier for customers and prospects to remember your number.

When it comes to functionality, there is no difference between a vanity number and its regular toll-free number. For example, 1-800-flowers translates to 1-800-356-9377 and 1-800-contacts translates to 1-800-266-82287. (Fun fact: If your vanity number is more than 10 digits, it will still work. In fact, the call will be made after the first 10 digits, no matter if the extra numbers are dialed or not.)  

How do toll-free numbers work

When it comes to the caller, a toll-free phone number works exactly like any other phone number. You simply dial to get connected with a customer service rep or other personnel. The only difference between dialing a toll-free number and another number is long-distance calls are free, even when placed from a landline.

If you are a startup, small business owner, or large corporation, how your new toll-free number works depends on your phone service. Some VoIP service providers charge extra for receiving toll-free calls, so it’s important to do your research when selecting a service.

How do I get a toll-free number?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) controls who receives a toll-free number. Toll-free numbers are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and they’re typically distributed through a “Responsible Organization” (RespOrgs), which reserve, manage, and distribute toll-free numbers to business owners. 

OpenPhone is an FCC-approved provider of toll-free numbers. With OpenPhone, getting a toll-free number is incredibly easy. To get your number, follow these steps:

  1. Sign up for an OpenPhone account using your email address or Google account.
  2. Pick your OpenPhone number by selecting “toll-free numbers.”
  3. That’s it! Simply enter your payment information to begin a seven-day free trial. 

Once you finish the OpenPhone setup process, your toll-free number is ready to use. 

What countries support toll-free numbers?

Typically, toll-free numbers are not free to use outside North America. Technically, a toll-free number is only free when placed within the United States or Canada. If a caller is dialing outside the U.S. or Canada, they will face long-distance charges. 

How much does a toll-free number cost?

Since toll-free numbers are distributed through a number of providers, pricing will vary. Some FCC-approved providers will charge $15-plus per month to manage a number, plus $0.06-$0.30 per minute for incoming calls. 

Translation: A toll-free service can easily impact your bottom line, so it’s important to do your research when searching for a provider.

OpenPhone provides affordable, transparent pricing when it comes to toll-free numbers. With OpenPhone, pricing starts at just $10 per month, per user. If you choose a toll-free number as your phone number, it’s free of charge. Each user comes with one business phone number.  An additional phone number is $5 per month. 

Why should you choose OpenPhone for a toll-free number?

what is a toll-free number: mobile and desktop view of OpenPhone

With OpenPhone, getting a toll-free number is simple and affordable. Plus, OpenPhone offers a number of advanced features that make it easier to field customer service requests coming in through your toll-free number.

Here’s why you should choose OpenPhone as your toll-free number provider. 

1. It’s easy to use

With OpenPhone, you can get and set up a toll-free number within minutes. Simply download the OpenPhone app to your cell phone, select a number with a toll-free code, and start placing and receiving calls from your mobile phone. 

2. You can easily improve customer service 

With OpenPhone, you get a number of advanced features like auto-attendant, call recording, call routing, auto-replies, and snippets to improve customer service. In fact, with OpenPhone, you don’t need a large team to manage incoming customer service or prospecting calls — automated replies and a virtual assistant help field calls, thereby saving time and energy.

3. You can have multiple numbers

With OpenPhone, small business owners and solopreneurs can have a 1-800 toll-free number in addition to their regular local number. Business owners can easily manage incoming calls, voicemails, and SMS messages for both numbers right from the OpenPhone app, without the burden of managing a second line. 

4. It’s affordable

With OpenPhone, having a toll-free telephone number is extremely affordable. If you want to use a toll-free number as your regular number, it’s just $10 per month per user. If you wish to add a toll-free line to your existing phone number, it’s only an extra $5 per month.

Choose OpenPhone to get a toll-free number 

A toll-free phone number is free for incoming callers, with the bill given to the person receiving the call. Toll-free numbers are useful for corporations and small business owners alike, as they can help field customer service and sales requests.

Toll-free numbers are controlled by the FCC, and you need to find one through an approved provider. If you’re a small business owner, startup, or solopreneur, getting a toll-free number through OpenPhone is the best choice for your business.

OpenPhone is a user-friendly, intuitive, and affordable solution for toll-free numbers. With OpenPhone, you can set up a toll-free number within minutes. From there, you can utilize solutions like auto-attendant, auto-replies, snippets, and call recording to improve your customer service offerings.

Ready to see how a toll-free number from OpenPhone can transform your business? Sign up for a free seven-day trial today.

Author

Co-Founder at OpenPhone. Ukrainian-Canadian in SF. Love exploring new hiking trails.

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