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For Subscribers

Getting a Toll-Free Line If you don't already have a toll-free line, find out what you're missing out on and how you can get one for less than $5 a month.

By Joel Holland

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A toll-free number is no longer an expensive luxury for largebusinesses--it's now an inexpensive necessity for smallbusinesses. For less than $5 a month, you can set up an 800, 866,877 or 888 number, complete with call forwarding, voice mail,extensions and more. This type of service can be a great boost to asmall business's image, and can help you generate sales due toan increase in trust from potential customers.

And unlike having a landline, you won't have to go through abig carrier like AT&T or Bell Atlantic for a toll-free number;you don't even need a physical line. A plethora of smalltechnology companies have purchased blocks of numbers that connectto a few hard-wired lines that run to the telecom companies.

It's kind of like running a parking lot. The person who ownsthe parking lot can have 300 cars park in his lot throughout theday, even though he only has 20 spots. With toll-free numbers, thecompany that provides the number might actually only own 20 phonelines, but it rents out 300 phone numbers figuring that at anygiven time only 20 of the lines will be in use. By carrying thecosts of just 20 lines while charging 300 clients for the use of atoll-free number, carrier can keep costs down and charge lowerprices to the people "renting" the toll-free numbers.