While cellphones may dominate the market, they haven’t replaced the need for a dedicated phone line for businesses. They provide reliable connections, which is important for a business’s professional image.
But adding multiple landline connections can be expensive and time-consuming. That’s where virtual phone numbers come in.
What Is a Virtual Phone Number?
A virtual phone number is any number added to an existing phone line. These numbers route incoming calls through a third-party data center, sending them to any destination — whether landline, mobile or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Because virtual phone numbers aren’t tied to a line with a physical address, you can choose your area code. This is great for businesses that want to reach customers in a location that’s different from their primary headquarters.
Why else would you need a virtual phone number? It allows you to draw a line between business and personal communications. You can use multiple phone numbers on a single device.
Also, a virtual business phone number provides flexibility in how you receive calls. You purchase a virtual phone number from a provider, and you can manage the service online. This allows you to instantaneously set your virtual phone number’s destination and change it as needed, all without the hassle and expense of managing hardware and routing calls through a landline business phone system.
Best Virtual Phone Number Services
- Google Voice: Best Free Virtual Phone Number Provider
- Grasshopper: Best Overall Virtual Phone Number for Business
- Ooma: Best for Remote Teams
- Nextiva: Best for Virtual Analytics
- 8×8: Best for Businesses With International Clients
How We Evaluated Virtual Phone Numbers for Business Providers
Features and Functions
A virtual business phone number is the minimum feature you need from a provider. As a business owner, you might need to participate in a conference call, ensure employees can make and receive their own calls, have a menu to guide customers through their contact options and send or receive faxes, among myriad other communications tasks. We evaluated virtual phone number providers according to how comprehensive their plans are for small to mid-sized business owners.
We looked at the different pricing options for virtual phone number providers to ensure affordable plans for budget-conscious entrepreneurs.
Industry and Customer Reviews
It’s important to see where each virtual number provider stands according to technical reviews and customer experiences.
Top Virtual Phone Number Providers
1. Google Voice: Best Free Virtual Phone Number Provider
When you need the benefits of a virtual phone number but can’t afford to spend money on even the most affordable VoIP provider services, Google may have just the solution.
Google Voice offers a free virtual phone number service that you can use on any Internet-enabled device, including your smartphone. It allows you to perform many of the same functions you’ll find from other providers.
However, only Google Voice’s personal plan is free, which might be ideal for freelancers or solopreneurs. There are also several affordable plans for small businesses.
- Starter: $10 per user, per month
- Standard: $20 per user, per month
- Premier: $30 per user, per month
Each of the 3 plans provides various features so you can choose the program suited to your individual business needs.
Some of the features that come with Google Voice include:
- Call forwarding and blocking
- Text messaging
- A basic automated attendant that prompts callers to provide their name before the call is answered
What Google Voice lacks in features it makes up for in a streamlined interface that’s simple to use right from the start. It can also integrate with your Google Workspace apps, including Google Calendar and Meet. Plus, the same powerful AI that brought us tools such as Google Translate also provides transcription services for voicemail and blocks spam calls.
2. Grasshopper: Best Overall Virtual Phone Provider
The Grasshopper platform is “focused on small to mid-sized businesses looking to leverage ‘big office’ [communications] systems” but without the costs or requirements for an existing business phone system and hardware, according to a PCMag review.
All Grasshopper plans include these features:
- Local virtual phone numbers, toll-free numbers and vanity numbers
- Business texting
- VoIP and Wi-Fi calling
- Voicemail transcription
- Virtual fax
- Call management solutions like call forwarding and transfer, blocking and a calling screen
- Auto-attendant feature for answering calls without adding additional employees
- Call routing and extensions to better manage incoming calls
Grasshopper users can choose among 3 pricing plans:
- Solo: 1 phone number and 3 extensions for $26 per month (if billed annually)
- Partner: 3 phone numbers and 6 extensions for $44 per month (if billed annually)
- Small Business: 5 phone numbers and unlimited extensions for $80 per month (if billed annually)
3. Ooma: Best for Businesses with Remote Teams
The COVID-19 pandemic had a massive impact on businesses, including shifting more workforces to remote operations. If your business doesn’t have a central location, Ooma offers at least 35 features to help you conduct business and handle external and internal communications from anywhere.
- Local or toll-free numbers
- Mobile app
- Virtual receptionist and hold music
- 1 conference bridge per user for up to 10 participants
- Call transfers and extensions
- Virtual fax
The Ooma Office plan is $19.95 monthly per user and the Office Pro plan is $24.95 monthly per user, so it’s among the pricier virtual phone number plans — depending on the size of your staff. However, the Office plan offers a comprehensive package of features. The Pro plan has a handful of additional functions, including the desktop app, video conferencing and voicemail transcription.
4. Nextiva: Best Virtual Phone Number With Power Analytics
Many VoIP providers offer features that cover most small businesses’ needs. However, you might need more advanced tools that can help you connect with your team and track and share analytics. Nextiva is one of the best on the market for just that. Most plans integrate with team communication tools and customer information management systems such as Hubspot, Salesforce and Microsoft Teams.
Features that come with every Nextiva package include:
- Unlimited voice and video calling
- Mobile and desktop apps
- Feedback tracking
- Automated chat systems
- Workspace collaboration
Nextiva also gives users number porting, unlimited fax and multiple accounts. Upgrade to one of their higher-tier packages, and you’ll also get SMS messaging, conference bridges and a variety of other features to help your small business communicate better.
Nextiva’s prices range from $18.95 to $57.95 per user, per month. While Nextiva’s packages may run higher than other VoIP providers on this list, access to advanced features is worth the cost for small businesses ready to grow their operations. Plus, their customer management system makes it easy to track the activity on your company phone lines through call tracking and history.
5. 8×8: Top Virtual Phone Number for Businesses With International Clients
Businesses with clients or connections worldwide can rack up international calling fees fast with a traditional phone provider. Luckily, there are a few VoIP providers that can help. 8×8 shines in that it offers free international calling to a whopping 47 countries. You’ll have to pay for their advanced package to reach all 47, but the mid-tier package includes free international calls to the 14 most common countries doing business with U.S.-based companies.
Other features you’ll get with any 8×8 package include:
- Unlimited fax
- Audio and video conferencing
Not only are you able to call out to numerous countries, but you can also conduct business through your virtual phone number. Even 8×8’s basic package offers audio and video conferencing for up to 100 participants. If your company has to make any virtual calls, make sure you weigh the cost of those calls through other providers against what you would pay for 8×8’s services.