We got familiar with the term “toll-free number” as it came into use rapidly by multiple big and small businesses. Toll-free numbers were made popular by infomercials and some TV programs as they introduced a new method for a customer to connect with a company or a business without any charges and vice versa. Several businesses have replaced their regular phone numbers with these toll-free numbers to have additional benefits. By using a virtual phone system, the communication between business and its customers has been enhanced. This article discusses what a toll-free number is, which toll-free numbers are used widely, and some of its drawbacks.

What is a toll-free number?

When you make a call to a regular phone number, your service provider charges you for the call. The charges differ from network to network and increase with the time duration of a call made. On the other hand, calling a toll free number is free of any charge, especially when the call is made from a landline. A toll-free number can be recognized using the area codes – 800, 833, 855, 844, 888, etc. If the number that you’re dialing has these codes, you won’t be charged for the call. 

Toll-free numbers offer messaging services as well. Some companies provide this service, which lets the customers get in touch with them easily and more quickly. In this way, the virtual phone system is utilized to its fullest as customers get a quick response from the customer service through text messaging.

When a company uses a toll-free number for their business, its customers get benefited by the free of charge service, but the company gets to pay for it. They pay the service provider for both incoming and outgoing services. It helps them grow their customer base by providing a reliable and direct contact to the customer service.  

Toll-free numbers can improve customer engagement and it is an essential factor for the growth of a business. When your business is small, a single landline in your office will be sufficient to handle the queries from your customers. Still, as soon as the business grows, you will need additional staff to handle your large customer base and resolve their queries.

Toll-free prefixes

Many infomercials show numbers such as “1800-FLORIST” or “1800-CONTACT US”. These kinds of toll-free numbers that use business names or any other acronym in place of digits are known as “vanity numbers.” It helps the customers to remember a company’s phone number easily. Vanity numbers are preferred by most of the businesses, including some government organizations nowadays.


1800 toll-free number prefix has been widely used since it is one of the oldest toll-free number prefixes. Most of the companies use this prefix as their toll-free number. Due to this, the market faced a shortage of this prefix, and hence no new numbers with this prefix are up for sale. 

To fulfill the requirements of toll-free numbers, FCC released a new set of toll-free number prefixes on June 3, 2017. This set consists of numbers with prefixes 833, 855, 800, 844, 888 toll-free numbers. 

833 toll-free numbers are accessible for the businesses centralized in Canada. You can easily have a unique number with 833 toll-free number prefix for your business.

855 toll-free numbers are associated with North America. If you have a business set up in North America and are looking for a toll-free number to improve your customer service, the 855 toll-free number prefix might be the perfect start for you.

800 toll-free numbers can be considered as the replacement of every other prefix. The 800 toll-free number prefix can be used by any business irrespective of its location. 

844 toll-free numbers are used by the businesses located in Canada, the United States, and any other country using the North American Plan. Almost every business has got one 844 toll-free number.

888 toll-free numbers are also based in North America. Using the “888 area code” can help you mainly target the customers in the US. 


Though toll-free numbers have changed the protocol of a company’s customer service, it has a number of drawbacks too. Some of these drawbacks are:

Setting up a complete customer service can be an expensive job for any business. Getting a toll free number for your business is not enough for establishing an automated service. It needs to be set up, phones and other devices will be needed, and other heavy pieces of equipment will be installed, which needs sufficient space separately. All these arrangements will be purchased from the business itself. Once the arrangements are made, and all pieces of equipment are installed, it will need timely maintenance which is again a costly affair.

Not every business is as successful as others. Many of them need a customer base to grow but cannot manage all the resources required to set up customer service. This is one of the major drawbacks of using toll-free numbers for a business as it needs an expensive setup. Therefore, most of the businesses are diverted towards the virtual phone system replacing the usage of toll-free numbers. It helps them avoid issuing a toll-free number and manage professional communication with their customers using virtual phone number.

Toll-free numbers act as a great tool in connecting a company to its customer base efficiently. Though they are a crucial part of any growing business, not all businesses prefer using their services due to the high cost. 

If you want to get a toll free number for your business, do research about all the available options thoroughly and check if it fulfils all requirements of your business because once you opt for a toll free number and set up your customer service, making changes to it can be quite a complicated job. Therefore, go through the complete plan and discuss it with the service provider.

Updated : July 28, 2021


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