Toll-Free Number vs Local Number: What's the Difference?

Toll Free Number vs Local Number: What’s the Difference?

Successful business operations rely on providing a dependable user experience and accessible customer service. Whether your consumers are local or international, having a reliable connection point, such as a virtual phone number, is important.

However, you may have a hard time choosing between a toll-free and a local number. What’s the difference? Which option would be best for your organization?

This blog post will explore that by comparing toll-free number vs local number services. Knowing the difference between the two can help you make a well-informed decision when choosing your customer service contact option. Keep reading to learn more.


Table of Contents


How Do Toll-Free and Local Numbers Differ?

Toll Free Number vs Local Number: What’s the Difference?

Local numbers are linked to an area code determined by the geographical location in which it was registered. In comparison, toll-free numbers are composed of distinct three-digit codes, such as 800, 877, or 888, that are free for the caller to dial no matter where they are.

Let’s differentiate the two further.


Local phone numbers require the caller to pay for their call. They are not free, and the caller’s location determines the cost. On the other hand, toll-free numbers enable customers to connect with a business without incurring any charges. Fees are paid by the company receiving the call.


Local numbers limit the area in which you can use them to the geographic location of that phone number. On the other hand, toll-free numbers have greater reach as they can be used to contact any business throughout the country or even internationally.

Dialing protocol

Toll-free numbers often have specific dialing protocols that require them to be dialed in a certain way. In contrast, you can dial local numbers without any particular protocol. You just have to dial the correct order of numbers.

Features of Toll-free Numbers

Integration with IVR solutions

Interactive voice response (IVR) is a technology that lets customers interact with an automated phone system to access information or perform specific actions. Many companies use integrated IVR systems to streamline customer service processes.

Call routing

Routing incoming calls to predetermined numbers is a key feature of toll-free numbers. This makes it easier to manage customer service inquiries without manually answering every call. Some service providers offer one-touch options for this feature.

Phone number patterns

You can configure toll-free numbers to provide unique number patterns, making it easier for customers to remember the phone number. They can be digits with a repeating pattern, for example, 1-800-900-9001. Or the toll-free number can spell out your company name.

More number options

Depending on your business needs, you can choose from various options of toll-free numbers. Here are the common types that businesses use:

  • International toll-free numbers (ITFS). You can use ITF to reach customers in different countries. These numbers offer global access, making them ideal for businesses that operate internationally.
  • Domestic toll-free numbers. Businesses use these numbers for their national presence. Charges for mobile phone calls usually happen when you call an ITFS number. But if you call a domestic toll-free number, you will not pay the charges.
  • Vanity numbers. These numbers spell out words, acronyms, or phrases that customers can remember easily. They are easier to remember than a sequence of regular numbers. Examples include 1-800-MICROSOFT and 1-800-FLOWERS.
  • Universal international freephone numbers (UIFN). These numbers have 11 digits and include a 3-digit code for the country area, followed by a global subscriber number. These numbers are used in 50 countries

Features of Local Numbers

Geographic-based numbers

Local numbers are great for targeting customers in a specific geographical area or country. Companies can buy local numbers from the corresponding geographic location to make reaching them easier for their customers.

If you want to target customers in a specific city or area, you can get a local number with the same three-digit area code as that city or region. For example, if you want to target customers in Los Angeles, you can get a local number with the area code 213.

Call forwarding

Call forwarding is a feature that allows an incoming call to be sent to a designated number without hanging up or redialing. This is a great way to ensure that your customers connect with the right agent or team.

Call recording

Call recording is helpful for businesses that need to keep track of customer interactions. It allows companies to monitor customer service calls and use them for training or review processes.

Uses of Local and Toll-Free Numbers for Business

Toll Free Number vs Local Number: What’s the Difference?

Customer service

Toll-free numbers are beneficial since customers can contact a business for free no matter where they are. This allows them to get timely assistance and encourages them to inquire about services or products. On the other hand, local numbers benefit businesses that mainly deal with customers within a specific area.

Sales and marketing

Toll-free numbers are great for sales and marketing campaigns since customers can directly dial the number without any charges. You can make a fax broadcast campaign or a voicemail campaign with the same toll-free number to reach more customers.

You can also use local numbers for the same purpose. They are great for engaging localized customers who want to contact a company within their area.

Order taking

Businesses can use both of these numbers to take orders from customers over the phone. This can be useful for companies that sell products or services by phone. In particular, toll-free numbers make it possible to process orders from customers abroad.

Virtual receptionist

Local and toll-free numbers can create a virtual receptionist service, allowing businesses to answer calls and transfer them to the appropriate department or employee. This can help businesses ensure efficient and organized communication.

Multi-channel communication

You can use local and toll-free numbers with text, email, online fax, and other communication channels. This allows customers to reach out to the company whichever way they prefer, making it easier for them to get in touch with the business.

Pros and Cons of Toll-Free and Local Numbers

Local and toll-free numbers come with both advantages and disadvantages. You have to weigh each to determine which is best for your business.

Pros of toll-free numbers

  • They can be contacted for free.
  • They are easy to remember.
  • They help build a global presence.
  • They offer portability since you can keep a toll-free number when switching service providers or relocating.

Cons of toll-free numbers

  • They may be more expensive, as you may be charged per minute.
  • They may not be the best option for targeting local customers.

Pros of local numbers

  • They’re less expensive than toll-free numbers.
  • They target customers in a specific area or city.
  • They enhance a business’s local presence.

Cons of local numbers

  • Customers may have to pay for long-distance calls.
  • Local numbers may have a limited reach than toll-free numbers.

At the end of the day, you have to decide which option works for your business. A local number can be the best option if your company operates within a specific geographical area. On the other hand, if your customer base is located in different cities or states, consider getting a toll-free number.

Get a Toll-Free Fax Number From iFax

Toll Free Number vs Local Number: What’s the Difference?

Your communication system must be able to handle customer queries without fail. Your faxes are one of the most important components of your communication system. A toll-free fax number is a critical element of many business operations today, and iFax makes it easy to get one quickly.

Remove the additional barrier of long-distance fees of faxing documents using the toll-free fax number from iFax. You can also take advantage of our rich features to:

  • Send and receive faxes from any internet-connected device.
  • Receive real-time notifications when you receive a fax.
  • Securely store and manage your documents with our cloud-based system.
  • Send messages to multiple recipients with fax broadcasts.
  • Comply with security regulations such as HIPAA.

We make it easier to find the right toll-free fax number that best fits your business. Start building relationships today by getting a toll-free fax number from iFax.

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