What is a Toll Free Number and How Do They Work?

Understanding Toll Free Vanity Numbers

Toll free numbers – or “800 numbers” as they’re often known – are numbers that a caller can dial without being charged.

The charge is paid for by the organization or individual being called, often as a way to encourage customers to get in touch about a product or service. Often a company will choose to advertise its toll free number in the form of a memorable name of phrase, which makes it a toll free vanity number.

Toll free services became routed through computer-driven database systems in the early 1980s, and have gone from strength to strength. No charge calling became a consideration for wider marketing and communication strategies, making toll free numbers an important tool for companies to have in place.

As the FCC explains here:
“Toll free numbers are very common and have proven successful for businesses, particularly in the areas of customer service and telemarketing.”

Both of those areas of application refer to companies in all kinds of professional fields, from cable companies to chiropractors, and law firms to limo drivers. When it comes to making a business more memorable, toll free vanity numbers aren’t limited by industry or application.

How Do Toll Free Numbers Work?

With the advent of modern computer systems, toll free numbers thrived because calls to them could finally be routed through a central database. As these systems, known as direct-dial, were developed they allowed calls to 800 numbers to be directed anywhere, making them much more attractive to national businesses.

Available toll free numbers are administered by SOMOS – the 800 Service Management System – which provides access to its database for certified organizations. More details are available on the system here or, fittingly, by calling the organization’s dedicated toll free vanity number on 1-844-HEY-SOMOS.

You can learn more about how Champion Communications offers toll free vanity numbers on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Are 888/877/866/855/844/833 Numbers Toll Free?

Even though the popular term is “800 numbers,” thanks to 800 being the first toll free dial code, the truth is that all of the dial codes above are used and recognized as toll free numbers. As demand for toll free numbers has increased, the system has expanded to include prefixes beyond the traditional 800 number. 888 numbers were introduced in 1996, and the expansion continued from there.

While 1-800 numbers take a lot of the limelight for premium vanity numbers, these alternative 800 toll free prefixes offer similarly premium brand value at a fraction of the cost, making them popular with small business owners and marketing managers.

888, 877, 866, 855 and 844 are all excellent prefixes to add that toll free allure to your chosen vanity number. SMS/800 confirms that “planning is underway for the future Toll Free codes of 833 and 822.” Others like 880 and 887 are reserved for expansion and could follow, as the market demands it.

To secure a memorable toll free number for your business, call us on 1-800-350-1000.

About Ryan Reubelt

As a 15+ year subject-matter expert in the digital marketing, advertising, and analytics space, Ryan brings his experience and knowledge to help expand Champion Communication’s reach throughout North America. Having led multi-million dollar digital programs for various Fortune 500 companies within the tech and manufacturing industries, his expertise continues to help create and optimize new revenue opportunities.