[CLEVER] Add a Second Line to Your Smartphone

Category: Telephony

Have you ever wished you had a second line on your mobile phone? Do you have one cell phone for personal calls, and another for business or some other purpose? It's a nuisance to carry two phones, and expensive too. Isn't there some way to add a second line to a smartphone? 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. 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. I'll show you a couple that are free, and some that 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.

add a line to your phone

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.

Another option is the TextNow app that offers free talk and text. You get a free phone number when you sign up, which can be used on any wifi-connected phone, tablet, or desktop computer. TextNow recently added the option to use the service without WiFi. This requires a one-time purchase of a SIM Activation Kit for $4.99. Insert the SIM card into a spare phone and you'll have nationwide talk and text with no monthly charges. I recently learned about this app from my 9-year-old granddaughter. She showed me that she could text and make calls from her Samsung tablet. "It's just an app, Grandpa Bob!"

GoDaddy, best known for domain registrations and hosting services, offers SmartLine. The Basic service costs $12.99/month after a 7-day free trial. 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.

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 $49.99, and includes 12 months of phone service. After the first year, you can renew for $43 annually, or at a discounted multi-year rate ($109 for 3 years). Magic Jack can be used as a second line, but most people use it as a low-cost replacement for their landline service. A companion MagicJack app lets you use your MagicJack account on an iPhone or Android smartphone.

Line2 offers a bundle similar to Smartline, 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. The Starter package is $15.99/month, and provides either a local or toll-free number, with caller ID, voicemail, call forwarding, call blocking, call screening, and voicemail transcriptions.

Sideline can be your a second phone line for calls, texts, voicemail, and more. Sideline detects and blocks spam callers, telemarketers, and can send an automated text message reply if you miss a call or message. Plans start at $14.49/month.

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 per month, or $3.99/month if you pay yearly. (Be sure to select the "Subscribe on the web & download after" option. For some reason, the price is $9.99/month if you Download Burner directly from the app stores.)

A single line 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. An added privacy bonus is that you can make and receive calls without having the outbound or inbound numbers showing on your phone bill. Calls made through the Burner app look like calls between your Burner number and your personal number.

Skype is another option to get a second phone number. A Skype Number is connected to an existing Skype account, so people can call you from a mobile or landline phone. When choosing a Skype Number, you can select the country and the area code, so callers from that area can reach you by dialing a local number. Service options start at $6.50/month with discounts for longer terms.

Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp Messenger are strictly VoIP apps that let you call, text, or video conference with other users of the same app. They’re free and work well for some users.

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.

Have you used one of these services to add a second line to your mobile phone? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below.

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Most recent comments on "[CLEVER] Add a Second Line to Your Smartphone"

Posted by:

14 Aug 2023

What would be really interesting is a list of 2nd non-VOIP lines. More and more services are rejecting VOIP numbers.

Posted by:

14 Aug 2023

We have used Magicjack for our landline for years
The best thing about MJ us Automated Call Screening
If you call us you must press a given number to complete the call.
Before MJ we would get 10 or 12 robocalls a day
Now we do not get robocalls
Calls can be forwarded to a cell phone
I have no connection to MJ, just a satisfied customer

Posted by:

14 Aug 2023

Yes, John,
I've noticed that "rejection" lately and puts a crimp on my online presence - without owning a smartPhone.
Both Vonage and gVoice (over my home cable-ISP) must be on that 'VoIP reject' list by some institutions (banking, investments, etc.). I ended up changing banks because of that "Security Code" sent to text line (gVoice) is rejected for some reason, and they will not do it via email.

Posted by:

14 Aug 2023

Re: John's comment: How so? I found exactly the opposite: I tried several "local" service providers and the called numbers didn't even ring. The called numbers worked fine when I installed the OOMA Service.

Posted by:

14 Aug 2023

Another possibility is to have a phone that accepts two different chips.
My 7-years old One+ 3 does, and I have chips from two different carriers in it, which allows switching carrier when the is poor coverage, or when one carrier is down (Happens, I live in Darkest Paraguay).
For economy, my secondary chip is pay-as-you-go, which I charge from time to time.

Posted by:

Daniel Wiener
14 Aug 2023

Google Voice is fantastic! It has all the features you mentioned and yet it's free. Years ago I transferred our decades-old land line number to Google Voice (there's a procedure for doing so) and set it to voicemail-only. I get email notices and transcripts of all the calls, so I easily screen out telemarketing and scam calls. I can receive text messages (forwarded to my email) and send texts. When I'm signing up for something and don't want to give out my cell phone number, I just give my Google Voice number. I love it.

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