What does a virtual phone number meaning?
The Virtual Number is a mobile phone number that is not physically associated with a phone line - all incoming calls are redirected to another mobile phone number.
Why should you use the virtual number?
Have you ever used the international roaming service while you traveled abroad? I did when I had just arrived in China and ended up paying a huge amount of money. After the first ruinous bill, I decided to find a solution to this problem. And that's how I came across virtual numbers.
With a Virtual Number, it's easy to redirect calls from a local number in your country to your local mobile number is probably the best option for receiving calls in China or wherever you are. It's cheap and you don't have to teach your mother how to use Skype or Whatsapp.
How does virtual number work?
You can imagine that when you move from New York to Shanghai and get a Chinese mobile number. Now, if you are not online, your family, friends, and clients in New York have two options - call your old US mobile number or your new China's mobile phone number. This is a classic "difficult choice" as both options are costly, both for you and for the person making a toll call to you.
Fortunately, now you have a third option: You can hire a local virtual phone number from New York, US. Now, when someone calls you on this number, they will pay according to the local rates in New York. However, the number will not be real, in the sense that the call is redirected to your Chinese mobile number, and you will have to pay a fee which will depend on the company you have chosen your virtual number with. The good news is that this fee can be as low as 0.03 USD per minute.
So after setting up a virtual number, anyone can call you on your Chinese mobile phone from the US (or any other areas), and both he and you will pay a very low fee. Now that's interesting!
This is the system used by most 24h call services: You will have noticed that sometimes the caller has an accent from another country, that is because the call center is simply in another country, even if you are calling a local number in your country: your call is redirected through a virtual phone service.
Remember that this is especially useful if you run a worldwide trade, and your overseas customers will call you from any country, while you live in China.
How to Choose a virtual phone number service?
So you can read a few of the following providers if you need to use a virtual number service soon. I have tried all of these services, and I will try to give my rating as objectively as possible.
Note: The price in USD of Virtual Fixed can change due to the exchange rate.
1. Toll Free Forwarding
Toll Free is no doubt one of the best virtual number services I have found and is suitable for both individuals and companies who have clients in several countries.
The beauty of this service is that it has a lot of flexibility with many different plans suitable for both individuals and companies and the ability to choose local or Toll Free virtual phone numbers in many countries around the world. Plus the basic plans only cost 15 USD and give you 150 free minutes. It's also very easy to sign up and use.
The only problem I see is the price per minute if you exceed the minutes of your monthly plan because they are among the most expensive in the market, so you have to be careful not to exceed the contracted plan.
2. Call Hippo
This service is perfect for individual visitor small companies with a strong international presence as it allows you to hire a wide range of services in a very flexible way. Call Hippo is what you exactly need.
The only problem is that unlike other services, you are charged for receiving calls as well as redirecting them to other numbers. This means that even though the rates are relatively low when adding the two charges, it's a little more expensive than other phone number providers.
It's worth noting that they have a portability plan, so if you are already using another virtual phone number, you can switch it to Call Hippo without losing the previous number.
Grasshopper is ideal for small businesses that have a very big number of calls per month because of its cheap price in monthly maintenance, and the price per minute is quite lower compared to similar services.
Besides, Toll-free numbers are free of charge for the caller, even when calling long distance within the same country. Charges apply if you call a toll-free number internationally. You are not charged when receiving an international call.
The major great part of this service is that it is extremely easy to use. You simply choose a local number, the number where you will receive the calls, pay, and it is already working.
Twilio was founded in 2008 and offered one of the most popular and cheapest virtual phone number services in the world. Nowadays, Twilio has received several rounds of funding up to millions of dollars.
What sets Twilio apart from other similar service providers is that they work primarily on a B2B basis, while other operators work on a B2C basis.
If you were the user of Airbnb, Netflix, or Lyft, you have probably used Twilio, according to the website, as it is often used by other service providers and 40,000 companies worldwide.
In short, Twilio is a development platform for developers. So you can use their APIs provided by Twilio to add features such as video, voice, or messaging to their own websites and applications. The advantage is that companies can provide a better communication experience for their customers.
Third parties using Twilio
There are many other providers who use the Twilio API when creating their services. Twilio refers to these companies as "third parties" and there are famous brands like Zoho, Agile, Zapier, ClickFunnels, Cisco, etc.
For example, Zoho is a multinational company that focuses on IT and web-based business tools. With 50 million users worldwide, Zoho has many well-known clients, such as Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, and HP.
Twilio is relatively cheap and offers the following prices depending on the service:
- Programmable Voice - from 0,0085 USD per minute for the reception and 0,013 USD per minute for making a call
- Programmable SMS - from 0.0075 USD to send or receive a message
Virtual Phone Number FAQs
What are the benefits of using a virtual phone number?
As we have already mentioned, it can save you a lot of money as an individual, but it is also useful for new companies and small businesses that want to establish a presence in markets where they currently have no physical presence.
Not to mention that it offers you more privacy since you don't have to provide your real phone number. Service providers often offer the option of having multiple numbers, which can be a great advantage.
Can I receive SMS to virtual numbers?
Sure, it's more common to use a virtual number for phone calls. Over the years, we have seen an increased demand for virtual numbers to receive and send SMS. Some operators provide virtual numbers that can be used only for SMS, but you cannot make phone calls with them.
Can I use a Virtual Number on WhatsApp?
Yes, CallHippo, for example, has written a guide to using your Virtual Number on WhatsApp. Please note that they cannot verify your WhatsApp account with the Virtual Number.
Can I use a Virtual Number on WeChat?
WeChat has strict security policies, and it is not that easy to register and verify accounts with Virtual Phone Numbers. Many say it's impossible, but there are applications, such as Wabi, that claim they can help foreigners register with WeChat with virtual phone numbers.