Virtual phone numbers are very useful for receiving long distance calls on your phone or they can give you the ability to make long distance calls without being charged by your phone company. But before we get into all that, let me explain exactly what a virtual phone number is and then why you need to get a virtual phone number.
What is a virtual phone number?
A virtual phone number is a number with no direct, physical connection to a land line. Instead, virtual phone numbers are linked to a real phone number by forwarding calls to a land line, cell phone, or VoIP phone.
Why is a virtual phone number useful?
There’s a couple of scenarios where having a virtual number could be useful to you.
First: say you’re a small business and a toll free number is too expensive for you- for example, AT&T charges an extra $14 a month for a toll free number. Most companies will give you the option of paying for an additional local phone number in whatever area code you choose for often around $5 a month; in some cases, the virtual phone number can be an international number. So if you have customers in New York that need to contact you in Philidelphia, you can get a virtual phone number based in New York so that it’s a local call for your customers, but that will call Philadelphia. This gives you the ability to keep in touch with all your customers, no matter where they may be.
Second scenario: say you’re a parent and your daughter or son is going off to college in another state - even another country. You can get a virtual phone number based out of whatever city he or she is in; to contact you, she just has to dial your virtual phone number and it will route directly to you.
A virtual phone number in your local area is useful in other ways. VoIP providers like Skype will often give you a local virtual phone number with your subscription. This gives you the ability to contact people in other parts of the country as well as Canada and other countries, depending on what subscription plan you purchased.
So how do I get one of these virtual phone numbers?
Numerous VoIP providers offer them for a small extra amount per month.
The downside is you generally have to purchase a VoIP service to get a virtual number and virtual numbers are an additional per month cost. In the case of Phone Power, for example, getting a virtual phone number is an additional $5 per month on top of your calling plan.
The good news is, though, that VoIP in and of itself has many cost saving benefits for your home and you get many more features than you would with a standard phone line. To just get a second line with the traditional phone company, you’re looking at an added cost of $12 and up.