With small businesses springing up everywhere, the desire for a cheap 800 number has increased. Toll free numbers give your business a professional appeal and they allow you to separate your personal life from your business life. But how do you get a cheap 800 number? Do you need a separate phone line in your home or office? All of these questions and more will be answered in these quick tips on finding and setting up a cheap 800 number.

Tip #1—Find a good server. There are many companies on the web claiming to be the best toll free service providers. Do your research. Some companies charge flat rates while others bill you only for the minutes used. Think about how much money you are willing to spend for the service and go from there. For example, RingCentral is a fully operating Internet phone service. You get an 800 number and a voice mail system with your monthly package. For $9.99 you can enjoy 100 minutes of phone time and a rate of 6.7 cents per additional minute. You can also listen to your voicemails on line and see a clear history of calls. With many other features such as call forwarding, music on hold and live call transfer, RingCentral is a handy and comprehensive plan.

Alternatively, a site like kall8 can offers a low per-minute rate. For $2 per month plus 6.9 cents per minute, you get attractive features such as voicemail, call waiting, and caller ID. If you’re looking for a truly cheap 800 number, this is the way to go.

Tip #2—Know what you want. For some people, all of the added features are desirable. Call waiting, repeat dialing, click-to-call, call blocking. These handy add-ons can be useful if you have the time and the will to learn how to use them. Often, voice mail and mailbox set up can be done over the phone and is the most popular feature of nearly every phone plan. For others, these features are not necessary and can even be confusing or frustrating for new users. Many people just want a toll free number and that’s it. For these users, a flashy plan with many extras might not be a good choice. A simpler plan with perhaps only a voicemail option would be more ideal. Decide what sort of plan you want and search for the features that you know you will take advantage of.

Tip #3—Pick a Number. One of the most difficult parts about getting an 800 number is actually coming up with the number. With so many toll free numbers in existence, there are few genuine 800 numbers left for availability, and often companies like Toll Free Max charge a fee for a true 800 number, $25 at their website. More typically, you will end up with a non-800 toll free number, one that begins with the digits 866, 877, 888. Although these numbers are not true 800 numbers, they are still toll free and serve the same purpose. There is always an option to have a number assigned to you, giving you a random, insignificant number that may be hard to remember, but it won’ cost you any extra. Or, if you are willing to pay a fee of up to $25, you can sign up for a vanity number, a number that you choose on your own. Often, people like to use the letters on the phone buttons to spell out something that is significant to them or their business. For example, if you were a pet grooming company, you might want to try to get the number 800-GROOMER. Try to think of a number that has meaning to you and is easy to remember. A vanity number can be a great way for a business to reach out to its target audience.

Tip#4—Look for customer service. At times, toll free number setup can be frustrating. There are often many options, features and add-ons that can be overwhelming to new users. Check with your site before purchasing to see that they have accessible and friendly customer service. Whether you need help with voicemail setup or call forwarding, it is important that your cheap 800 number provider is there when you need them to walk you through the steps of setup and use. The teleconferencing giant Freedom Voice offers 800 numbers as well as a click-to-call feature. If you need help, you simply click on their 800 number logo and enter your number. They will call you within minutes with customer service advice. Likewise, many companies like AllCom, offer help via e-mail, phone or fax, as well as posting easy-to-use user guides on their websites. Often, these user guides will walk you step-by-step through the setup and usage of their phone functions. Be sure that the company you decide to go with has all of the handy customer service features you desire.

Tip #5—Use trial periods. If you are weary of getting a cheap 800 number and finding the right company for you, be sure to sign up with one that has a free trial period. This way, you can test out the service, learn the ins and outs, and decide if you really want to use them. Internet phone company Ring Central offers a plethora of services from toll free voice and fax numbers to Internet fax to voicemail. They have a free 30-day trial period in which you can use the system and decide if it’s really right for you. The amount of time that your free trial runs can vary from one week to one month, but if you are unsure about what company to go with, a trial period can be a great way to narrow down your choices without spending a ton of money to check each place out.

Tip#6—Check for fees. After you have decided which company to use, you’ve chosen your number and you know you have a week-long trial, be sure to read the fine print. There can often be setup fees, cancellation fees and minimum usage fees attached to toll free number accounts. Be aware of these fees and make sure that you are getting the deal that you thought you signed up for. Pay attention to your first few bills and make sure your billing rate is what you had originally agreed upon.

Having a cheap 800 number can give your business a competitive edge and a boost. People are far more likely to call an 800 number than a local number. Likewise, you can conceal your location with a toll free number and target a national audience rather than just your region. If using a cheap 800 number for personal use, it can be a great way to allow friends and family to keep in touch with you without having to foot a huge bill. Whatever you decide to use it for, an 800 number can be a cheap and easy way to keep in touch and stay connected.

Compare cheap 800 number phone service providers.