Choosing a vanity or toll free phone number for your small business.


An Australian vanity number or “phone word” for small businesses not only looks particularly professional, but it can also go a long way toward cementing your contact information into the memories of prospective clients.


Ever tried to call a cab in Australia? Even thinking about calling a taxi brings to mind the unending drone of the Australia wide taxi booking service 13 CABS. Their branding is everywhere, and at the forefront is their vanity phone number or phone word. Instead of remembering a business phone number, customers can simply tap 13 CABS on their alpha-numerical phone keypad and place a call directly through to the company call center. This is a perfect example of a personalised business telephone number and using it to full effect.

13 Cabs might be a monolith in Australian business, but more and more Australian small businesses are registering vanity phone numbers. Unfortunately, due to the huge range of different services now available in Australia not everyone understands exactly what they should be looking for.

In Australia, vanity phone numbers in general are most commonly known as “Phone Words”. Communications giant, Telstra, provide the most widely used vanity number service, Telstra Phone Words.

As if vanity phone numbers weren’t confusing enough, Telstra use multiple different websites with different names in order to market their phone words service. This can be confusing to prospective phone words clients, yet the distinction is relatively simple if you take the time to look through each.

1300 Australia: Despite the name, this Telstra site is dedicated to informing customers about vanity numbers in general. It also supplies Telstra specific information and a handy search tool so you can check the availability of your business phone word.

The Telstra Phone Words main website provides the most generic information on vanity phone numbers in general.

Along with the big players, vanity phone numbers are offered by multiple smaller companies, all vying for your business.

When choosing a phone words provider, it’s important to provide a distinction between the different types of vanity phone numbers or phone words. All are paid for generally with yearly administration fees with additional call costs and service charges, however one is not the same as the other.

In Australia, toll free numbers are often referred to as 1800 numbers. These are 100% free for your customer to call from a land line phone, though charges are generally applicable for mobile users. Unfortunately, 1800 numbers can be cost prohibitive for small businesses, as the call cost is passed directly to the business themselves. Customers love these numbers, but you may not when you receive the bill!

1300 numbers are the most popular vanity phone number in Australia and the most commonly registered with Telstra. These work in a similar way to the toll free numbers, except the caller takes on part of the call cost, usually that of a local call. 1300 numbers are generally affordable for small businesses and can really take your business up a notch in the minds of your prospective clients.

13 numbers are considered premium phone words which allow your clients to call you from any location within Australia with a low, fixed call charge. Although the number may be the most professional appearing and as they are short, they’reeasiest to remember, Priority 13 numbers are extremely expensive to operate. Not only do you pay an annual connection and registration fee, owners of 13 numbers are also required to pay a large government charge. Telstra recommend 13 numbers for medium to large sized Australian businesses.

In addition to the cost differences for 13, 1300 and 1800 phone words, some phone words will be more expensive than others due to whether or not they’re seen as more valuable. Usually the more generic the term, the more expensive the number will be. (eg, 1300 DOCTOR is going to be more expensive than a derivative of your business name). Make sure you discuss this with your phone words provider of choice to make sure you have all the information possible to make an informed decision.

If you’re looking to register for a Phone Word of your own, make sure you shop around for reputable companies with the best deals. Write down all your questions and put them to your sales consultant directly. Make sure you know exactly what costs you need to expect well before you sign anything.

Although they can be expensive, Phone Words can be particularly effective if you combine the vanity number with advertising media designed to stay in the forefront of  your clients day to day life.

Follow Me

Elva Griffiths

Web Solutions Specialist at Sunspire
Elva is the founder and technical consultant behind Sunspire, a web design and internet marketing studio based in both Melbourne and Hervey Bay, Australia.
Follow Me