[HOWTO] Add a Second Line to Your Phone

Category: Telephony

A reader asks: “I have one smartphone that I use for personal calls, and another one used only 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. 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.

add a line to your phone

GoDaddy, best known for domain registrations and hosting services, offers SmartLine. The Basic service cost only $3.99/month after a 30-day free trial. But it comes with only 100 minutes of talk time and you can send only 100 texts per month, although there’s no limit on the number of texts you can receive. The premium $9.99/month SmartLine includes unlimited texting and calling. Both let 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.

Line2 offers a similar bundle for only $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 any device, while SmartLine is silent on that subject.

More Options For Multi-Line Smartphones

Burner touts its service as a privacy protector. 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 $2.95/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. Many Android users have given TextFree high ratings, but I notice a number of glitches among the lower ratings on the Google Play store. https://goo.gl/4gD0sF I get the impression Pinger’s tech support and development departments are understaffed.

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 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.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below.

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Most recent comments on "[HOWTO] Add a Second Line to Your Phone"

Posted by:

john silberman
18 Aug 2017

I have been using TextFree as a second line when traveling outside cellular coverage including locations outside the US for a few years now. I actually experienced better performance with TextFree than with GoogleVoice.

Posted by:

18 Aug 2017

Use a phone with a double SIM facility.

Posted by:

Bob Dobbs
18 Aug 2017

Talkatone app lets you set a number in Canada or US and talk and text for free. With visual ads.

Posted by:

18 Aug 2017

I suspect there are many people like me. I want a smartphone for: camera and screen for pictures, audio player, and an FM radio would be nice - all in one device but I don't want the high cost of data plans and contracts. I would use it with only WiFi data. I get by with a 250 minute and 250 text plan for $12/mo and only one time in years have I gone over this. Unfortunately, my provider won't enable a phone that has beyond 3G capability for this plan.

There are many smartphones for lower cost and have Android 6 or 7 but have slightly lower screen resolutions.

There needs to be options for this.

Posted by:

J Kendzi
18 Aug 2017

Bill, have you heard of Republic Wireless? I have looked into their service and Bob has reviewed them as well. They offer several Smart Phones and even let you "bring" your own phone now. Their lowest plan is $10.00 a month. Check them out. J

Posted by:

18 Aug 2017

I have moved my Dad in with me. He still has a landline phone that he's had for 40+ years. I am planning on transferring that high cost line to a cheap throwaway cell phone. Then eventually I want to transfer that number to a service like google voice or others that will auto forward to his mobile. Are one of the above a better option?

Posted by:

18 Aug 2017

I don't know if this applies to the topic, but I use Ting and my wife and I use the same account. This is a no contract, pay as you go service and we each have our own number. We are definitely not heavy users but it works very well for us. The only downside for some may be that they use T-Mobile for GSM and Sprint for cdma. It has never been a problem for us but your usage may vary.

Posted by:

18 Aug 2017

I forward all work cell to my personal cell for the very same reason that I hate to carry around two phones.

The problem is that any incoming call, unless it has caller ID, I can't tell if it's a work related call, spam or something else.

On top of that, I wish there were a way to make an outgoing call show up as either my personal or work #. Because of the huge number of spam calls, if a co-worker sees an unfamiliar phone #, they just don't answer it.

BTW, I have an iPhone and calls are being forward from my work phone, a Galaxy S7 Edge.

Posted by:

Fred Bertram
18 Aug 2017

for a few dollars a year magic jack cant be beat and when you get the free magic jack app you can get any calls from MJ to your smart phone how great is this for people on a tight

Posted by:

19 Aug 2017

I also have Magic Jack and agree with Fred's statement,..... I have a feeling that the saying (All Good Things Come To An End) will be true some day with Magic Jack.

Posted by:

20 Aug 2017

Why no mention of Google Voice? It's free and does all of that. I've been using it since it came out.

Posted by:

22 Aug 2017

I use skype a free service and for my business a paid $14.99 per month service with world wide service that comes with a local phone number.

Posted by:

25 Aug 2017

I have Vonage and they recently added the ability to put the number on a smartphone. I now have my normal cellphone service and my Vonage number available. I have to have data for my Vonage but that's no problem as long as I'm in a covered area or have wifi access.

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