When looking for a US toll-free number, you will often come across a variety of three-digit toll-free codes such as 888, 844, 855, 866, 877, and 800 numbers.
But is there a difference between these numbers? And why are businesses still heavily demanding toll-free numbers?
Here we will detail the differences between these toll-free codes and explain how owning toll-free numbers can help a business grow.
Toll-Free Numbers: Definition and Benefits
A toll-free number is a number that is free for callers. In other words, callers can reach a toll-free number without being charged for the call. Instead, the toll-free subscriber or the owner of the toll-free number pays for the call. This presents a major benefit because customers are more likely to call a business if the phone call is free.
Owning a toll-free number also makes your business appear more professional. Imagine a business that advertises a professional and corporate 800 number or an 1800 number as opposed to a standard mobile or cell phone number. The company with the toll-free number is probably more likely to attract customer attention. It is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your brand.
Why Is There More Than One Code?
Businesses have been using 800 numbers for almost 50 years.
These 1800 toll-free numbers first originated in 1967 and were used primarily by hotels and rental car agencies. These agencies both take reservations from across the country. They also conducted a lot of business over the phone, before the internet. It was important for customers to reach these businesses for free.
However, the market for 800 numbers became saturated as more and more businesses started using toll-free numbers. This led to an exhaustion of 800 numbers and a need for more toll-free prefixes. To satisfy the demand:
- 888 numbers were created in 1996,
- 877 in 1998,
- 866 numbers in 1999,
- 855 numbers debuted in 2010,
- 844 numbers came into play in 2013,
- 833 numbers were released in 2017.
Difference Between the 3-digit Prefixes
A toll-free number will begin with one of the following toll-free prefixes: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, or 844. The six formats are essentially the same.
The main difference between these 3-digit prefixes is the price for the prefix. True 800 numbers tend to be a few bucks more than the other toll-free prefixes.
That aside, all these numbers perform the same function and cost the same for callers (your customers).
Which Prefix Should I Choose?
The prefix that you choose for your toll-free number depends somewhat on your advertising strategy.
800 numbers are more popular on common advertising media like television, billboards, and radio. Business analysts consider traditional 800 numbers to attract larger call volumes. A simple explanation: traditional 800 numbers are easily recognized as toll-free numbers. People are still familiarizing themselves with the other toll-free codes.
However, if the 800 number that you want is taken, then you can buy an 888, 877, 866, 855, or 844 number and get the same benefits.
How are Toll-Free Numbers Assigned?
The FCC regulates the way toll-free numbers can be used or obtained. According to the FCC, toll-free numbers are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis by entities known as “Responsible Organizations.”
The FCC’s rules prohibit toll-free service providers from warehousing or hoarding toll-free numbers. This means that a provider cannot legally reserve a number without having a subscriber in place. The FCC regulates this activity to ensure that a fair supply of toll-free numbers is available.
Porting 800 Numbers
The greatest advantage for consumers is portability. Porting means that a toll-free user can “port” or move his number to a new provider when he changes providers. Portability becomes especially useful when you have owned an 800 number for a long time. It eliminates the need to advertise a new number to clients when switching providers.
Related: 5 Phone Number Porting Myths Debunked
Get 800 Numbers with Us
If you want to purchase a toll-free number or port your existing number to us, then simply sign up on our homepage. You can also contact our experts for assistance if needed.