Add a Second Line to Your Mobile Phone
A reader asks: “I have one cell phone that I use for personal calls, and another one just for business calls. It's a nuisance to carry two phones, and expensive too. Isn't there some way to add a second line to a mobile phone?” Well, yes, and there are some other very good reasons for doing so, even if you're not running a business. Read on for several options...
Mixing Business With Pleasure?
Mixing professional and personal business often leads to trouble. Many employees, entrepreneurs, and professionals carry two phones, one for business and the other for personal calls, texts, email, etc. But others just want two phone numbers that are associated with the same device. The really tech-savvy also want two numbers that can be used on a phone, tablet, computer, smartwatch, or whatever other gadgets they have.
Cellular service providers offer the option to add a second line, but it can be more expensive and restricted than necessary. Verizon, for example, charges $20/month for a second line, with a $20 activation fee and a two-year contract that runs separately from the main number’s. Prepaid Verizon customers cannot have a second line.
Naturally, third-party services have arisen to provide second lines at lower cost with no contract and no restrictions. Several offer free trial periods, which you’ll never get from a carrier. They also sweeten the pot with discounted international calls and clever features like the ability to set the hours during which your business phone line will ring.
GoDaddy, best known for domain registrations and hosting services, offers SmartLine. The Basic service costs $9.99/month after a 30-day. SmartLine includes unlimited texting and calling. You choose a phone number in any U.S. area code, restrict ringing hours, send the second line’s number as caller-ID, convert voicemails to text, and customize a greeting for the second line. When you call out using SmartLine, your second phone number shows on their Caller ID, so your personal number stays private. Godaddy says you can download the Smartline app (iOS or Android) and get your new number up and running in about 5 minutes. I've been using Smartline as a second number to manage a rental cottage, and it has worked well.
With Google Voice, you get a free phone number for calls, text messages, and voicemail. It works on smartphones and desktop computers. Voice allows texting from your computer or cell phone, filters out most spam calls, lets you block unwanted callers, and screen your calls before answering. Incoming voicemails are transcribed into text and arrive in your email inbox. You can personalize your voicemail greetings for people in your contact list. I would have used Google Voice for the rental, but I already have a Google Voice number that rings on my cell phone, and you can only have one GV number associated with an existing number.
Magic Jack is an option to consider if you don't have a mobile phone, or if you don't want your second line to be associated with a mobile phone. Magic Jack is a gadget you plug into your computer, and then plug a standard phone handset into it. It uses your Internet connection to make and receive phone calls. The device costs $35, and includes 12 months of service. After the first year, you can renew for $39 annually. Magic Jack can be used as a second line, but most people use it as a low-cost replacement for their landline service.
Line2 offers a bundle similar to Smartline for a bit less -- $8.30/month, although it’s billed annually ($99.60 up front cost) and the free trial lasts only 7 days. But a Line2 number works with either cellular service or WiFi (VoIP), while SmartLine is strictly cellular. VoIP can be a lifesaver when you’re in a cellular service “dead zone" but you can connect to WiFi. A Line2 number works on up to five devices (phones, tablets, PCs or Macs), while SmartLine is silent on that subject. You get "virtually unlimited" calling and texting; you can forward, screen, or block calls, or do group calling and messaging. If you have a website, you can use the Line2 Widget to get texts directly from people on your site.
More Options For Multi-Line Smartphones
Burner touts its service as a privacy protector. Their slogan is "Only give your personal number to people you trust. For everyone else, there's Burner." A Burner number costs $4.99 month-to-month or $3.99/month if you pay a year in advance. That gives you unlimited texting, calling, and picture-messaging, plus spam call filtering. Burner’s distinguishing feature is the ability to “burn” a number and get another once per month; this can be useful for temporary communications needs such as a Craigslist ad or dating service. You can have any number of Burner phone numbers.
Skype started out as a way to make video calls between Skype members for free. Today, Skype offers a number of other services, including a Skype phone number that allows unlimited inbound and outbound calls in the U. S. and Canada for $2.99/month. Skype charges for text messages, a major downside even thought texts cost less than 5 cents each, depending on the text’s destination.
TextFree is an app from Pinger, Inc. It started out as just a free-texting service that works over WiFi or cellular data. Today, it include a phone number that’s good for inbound and outbound calling and texting within the U. S. and Canada.
I’m not sure what the tax ramifications of the two-numbers-one-phone strategy are. Generally, the IRS wants any expenses you deduct from gross revenue to be for things exclusively used for business. The service charges for a second, business-only line may be deductible, but if business and personal matters are conducted on a device, the device’s cost may not be deductible even in part. Check with your tax expert on that.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 29 Apr 2019
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Add a Second Line to Your Mobile Phone (Posted: 29 Apr 2019)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved