06 Sep 2023

If you are looking for a new business phone number, you might be wondering whether to choose a toll-free number or a local number. Both types of numbers have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on your business goals and needs. This will explain the main differences between toll-free and local numbers, the pros and cons of using a local or toll-free number and what type of number should you get for your business.

What is a Toll-Free Phone Number?

A toll-free number is a phone number that starts with a specific code, such as 1800, 888, 877, etc. in the United States. A toll-free number is not tied to any specific location, and it can be used to call from anywhere in the country. The main feature of a toll-free number is that the caller does not pay any charges for the call, while the receiver pays for the incoming calls.

Toll-free numbers are ideal for businesses that want to attract customers from different regions and markets and provide them with a free and easy way to contact them. Toll-free numbers can also enhance the image and credibility of a business, as they show that the business is large and well-established.

What is a Local Phone Number?

A local number is a phone number that has a three-digit area code that corresponds to a specific geographic region. For example, a Miami local number will have a 786 or 305 area code while London area code 020. A local number can be used to call within the same area code or nearby areas, depending on the provider’s rates. The caller pays for the local call charges, while the receiver does not pay for incoming calls.

Local numbers are ideal for businesses that want to target customers in a specific area and establish a local presence. Local numbers can also increase customer satisfaction, as they make the customers feel more comfortable and familiar with the business.

What’s the Difference between Local vs. Toll-Free Numbers?

The primary distinction between local and toll-free numbers lies in their geographical association. For instance, if your business is based in London, UK, a local number would typically feature an area code 020, indicating your specific location. On the other hand, toll-free numbers, identifiable by codes such as 0800 or 0808, conceal your exact city or town and do not impose charges on callers.

Toll-free numbers are favoured by businesses because they offer a single, cost-free point of contact for customers seeking information or assistance. Conversely, local virtual phone numbers empower businesses to establish and enhance their presence across various UK cities. The choice between them can be confusing, but we're here to simplify the decision-making process. We'll explain the differences between local and toll-free numbers and help you determine which one best suits your UK-based business or global-based business. Here's a breakdown of the differences between toll-free numbers and local numbers based on various aspects:

1. Business reach

Toll-free numbers have a broader national or international reach since they don't have a specific geographic association. They are excellent for businesses aiming to attract a wide customer base.

Local numbers are associated with a specific location, making them ideal for businesses looking to establish a local presence in specific regions or cities. They can help build a strong local customer base.

2. Calling charges

Callers to toll-free numbers are not charged for the call. The business bears the cost of these incoming calls.

Callers to local numbers may incur standard local call charges, depending on their phone plans. This could potentially deter some customers.

3. Users trust

Toll-free numbers often convey a sense of professionalism and trustworthiness, as they are commonly used by established businesses and are associated with free customer support.

Local numbers can instil trust among customers in the specific region they serve, as they imply a physical presence in that area.

4. Brand reputation

Having a toll-free number can enhance a business's brand reputation by showing a commitment to customer service and accessibility.

Local numbers can help create a strong regional brand identity, which can be advantageous for businesses focused on specific local markets.

5. Cost

Acquiring and maintaining a toll-free number typically comes with higher costs for the business, as they are responsible for covering call charges.

Local numbers are generally more cost-effective for businesses, as they often involve lower setup and ongoing expenses. However, callers may bear some calling charges.

Here is a table that summarises the main differences between toll-free and local numbers:


Feature Toll-Free Number Local Number
Location Not tied to any location Linked to a specific area code
Caller Charges Free for callers Paid by callers
Receiver Charges Paid by receivers Free for receivers
Customer Reach Nationwide or international Local or regional
Business Image Large and professional Small and personal


Pros and Cons of Local and Toll-Free Numbers

Depending on your business type, you may find that either a local or toll-free number is more suitable, and sometimes having both can be beneficial. Here's a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of each:

Local phone number

  • Higher likelihood of local calls being answered promptly.
  • Enhances local presence and brand recognition.
  • Builds trust by appearing geographically closer to your clients.
  • Clients may incur fees for long-distance calls, potentially discouraging some from reaching out.

Toll-free phone number

  • Creates the impression of a larger business.
  • Builds a global reputation, making it accessible to a broader audience.
  • No charges for national callers, encouraging more inquiries.
  • Outbound calls from toll-free numbers may be dismissed as spam or telemarketing.
  • Less focused on specific target regions.
  • Less personal, often more suitable for teams rather than individual business owners.

Here's a comparison table summarising the pros and cons of local and toll-free phone numbers:


Aspect Local Phone Number Toll-Free Phone Number
Call answer rate Higher likelihood of local calls being answered promptly. Creates the impression of a larger business.
Brand Presence Enhances local presence and brand recognition. Builds a global reputation, and broad audience access.
Client Trust Builds trust by appearing geographically closer to clients. No charges for national callers, encouraging inquiries.
Call charges or fear of spam Clients may incur fees for long-distance calls. Outbound calls may be dismissed as spam or telemarketing.
Geographic focus Local focus is less suitable for broad reach. Less focused on specific target regions.
Personalisation Personal and suitable for individual business owners. Less personal, often better for teams.


Should I get a Local or Toll-Free Number for my Business?

When choosing between a local and toll-free number, it is very important to consider these questions:

Customer base

Determine whether your customer base is local or extends across the UK. If your customer base is local, opt for a local number. If your customer base spans nationwide or internationally, consider getting a toll-free number.

Expansion plans

Assess whether your company is planning to expand its operations nationwide. If not, a local number aligns with your current scope. However, if expansion is on the horizon, a toll-free number becomes a practical choice.

When We Should use a toll-free and local phone number

Toll-free numbers are a valuable choice for businesses without a physical location but catering to a broad consumer audience throughout the UK.

They are particularly beneficial for businesses with expansion plans beyond their current location, especially those with international reach. For instance, a local art agency may not have the need for a toll-free number. Conversely, a software company offering customer support to a user base across the UK would likely find a toll-free number highly advantageous.

Local numbers are well-suited for small, local businesses that primarily operate within specific UK cities or regions. For instance, if your business involves travel between London and Manchester for meetings, having local numbers for both areas can be advantageous when connecting with your business partners or clients.

Local numbers typically feature area codes that correspond to the specific city or town where the business operates. This is especially valuable if you have a physical presence, office, or shop in that city, as it signals to your client base that you are nearby and readily accessible by phone or for in-person interactions.

Should My Business Consider Using Both Local and Toll-Free Numbers?

Having both local and toll-free numbers can be advantageous for businesses, regardless of their size. Multiple numbers serve various purposes and offer flexibility. For instance:

Toll-free number for inbound calls and customer Support

A toll-free number can be dedicated to handling incoming customer inquiries and support requests, ensuring that customers can reach your business without incurring charges.

Local number for outbound sales calls

Having a local number for outbound sales calls can make your business appear more approachable to potential clients in specific regions. It also helps in establishing a local presence for sales efforts.

Team delegation and customisation

Sharing a phone number with your team enables you to delegate responsibilities more efficiently. You can even set specific hours for each team member to manage incoming calls or inquiries, providing a structured and organised approach to customer interactions.

Personalised local numbers

Acquiring multiple local numbers for each team member allows them to have separate phone numbers and personalised voicemail greetings. This personalisation can enhance the customer experience and make it easier for clients to reach specific team members.

Stuck between Choosing Local or Toll-free Number? Get both with Wavetel Business in few Minutes

You can always get both a local and toll-free number with Wavetel Business. Wavetel Business is a business phone service telecom company that allows you to have both local and toll-free numbers in the UK. With Wavetel Business in the UK, you can have the flexibility of both local and toll-free numbers to meet the needs of your business and reach a wider customer base.

Here are four easy steps to get your local or toll-free number with Wavetel Business:

Step#1: Sign up

Start by signing up for Wavetel Business services on their website or by contacting their customer support. You'll need to provide your business details and contact information.

Step#2: Choose your number type

During the sign-up process, you'll be prompted to select the type of number you want – local or toll-free. If you can't decide, remember that Wavetel Business allows you to have both, so you don't have to choose just one.

Step#3: Customise your number

Once you've selected your number type, you can customise it to align with your business. This may involve choosing a specific area code for your local number or selecting a memorable toll-free number.

Step#4: Activate your number

After customising your number, Wavetel Business will guide you through the activation process. This typically involves verifying your business information and confirming your number selection. Once activated, your local and toll-free numbers are ready to use for your business communications.

Final thoughts

The choice between a toll-free and a local phone number is a critical decision that should align with your business objectives and target audience. Each type of number has its unique advantages and disadvantages, making it important to consider your customer base, expansion plans, and branding goals when making this decision.

Toll-free numbers offer a broad reach and convey professionalism, making them suitable for businesses with a national or international presence. They are especially valuable for companies planning to expand beyond their current location.

On the other hand, local numbers establish a strong presence within specific regions, build trust among local customers, and are ideal for businesses with a primarily local focus.

While the decision can be challenging, remember that having both local and toll-free numbers can provide flexibility and cater to various aspects of your business. Wavetel Business in the UK offers this flexibility, allowing you to have both types of numbers to meet your unique business needs.

By carefully assessing your business requirements and following the straightforward steps to obtain your preferred numbers, you can enhance your communication strategy and better connect with your customers, regardless of their location or preferences.


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