There are plenty of reasons why someone might want a second phone number, whether it’s temporary or permanent. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find straightforward information on the best way to do it, especially if you don’t want to spend a ton of money.
So, we’ve gathered up the best apps and websites for you to use, whether you’re looking for an extra line, a throwaway, or just want to receive a few free texts.
Why Use a Second or Throwaway Phone Number
There are lots of uses for either a second phone number or a temporary phone number.
- Use it to separate your personal, business, or other calls/texts without needing multiple phones
- Sign up for products or services without worrying about spam calls/texts to your primary phone number
- Protect your privacy by using your secondary phone number for registrations, contact details, or even giving out to people you don’t know well
- Receive verification texts for apps or services that you can’t or don’t want to receive on your primary phone number
If any (or all) of those sound good to you, the apps below can make it happen.
Best Apps for a Second Phone Number
If you’re looking for your own second (or third, or fourth) phone number, whether it’s a throwaway or a full-on second line, the apps below are what you should try. We’ve highlighted our favorites, as well as some slightly less functional or popular options.
Burner is the “burner phone” gone digital. It allows you to easily create alternate phone numbers, which can be used to make and receive calls and texts. You can maintain up to 3 numbers at once – and change numbers at any time by simply “burning” one of the previous numbers, which will deactivate it. Then, just make a new one, in the area code of your choice.
There are only two potential drawbacks:
•It’s not free (though there is a free trial)
•You need an existing phone number to sign up
You can pay monthly for $4.99 per month or pay for credits that can be used for individual numbers.
TextNow doesn’t just offer second phone numbers through their app, they’re also a phone service provider of their own, providing very cheap calling, texting, and even data through both their network and wireless internet.
Or you can just use them as a second phone number via wifi, which is completely free. That being said, you’re not able to maintain multiple numbers, like Burner or Hushed. And you’re not able to switch numbers as easily, so it’s less of a “temporary” phone number and more of a permanent second line.
But it’ll work just fine for many people.
Hushed is actually quite similar to Burner, with many of the same features. But there are some differences.
For starters, while Hushed isn’t free – and its free trial is more restrictive than Burner’s – it’s ever-so-slightly cheaper. Hushed also offers Canadian and UK numbers, as well as international calling, while Burner is US only.
Hushed also doesn’t seem to require a phone number to sign up. It did ask for an email, but we weren’t required to verify it, so you could probably get away with using a fake one.
On the other hand, Hushed doesn’t allow you to “burn” or change numbers as easily as Burner does. And some of their recent reviews on the Google Play store aren’t so hot – though we didn’t have any problems.
Hushed starts at $1.99 for prepaid plans and $3.99 for monthly plans.
Google Voice / Google Fiber
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the most popular second phone number options out there, from one of the biggest companies in tech.
There’s Google Voice, which allows you to send and receive calls for free. It’ll also give you a second phone number, but those calls will be forwarded to your primary number.
Then there’s Google Fi, which is a full-on phone service, which uses a combination of Wi-Fi and T-Mobile/US Cellular towers. Many people who spend a lot of time abroad or traveling use it because of its flexibility.
However, Google has a history filled with privacy scandals, so we certainly wouldn’t trust them with our personal information, including calls and texts.
Whether it’s worth the risk is for you to decide.
Other Temporary Phone Number Apps to Check Out
Best Sites for Receiving Free Text Messages (SMS)
Not everyone needs a full-on second phone number – or even a temporary one. They just want to receive a text or texts, usually to verify some kind of app or service subscription.
And there are lots of sites that cater to that market by allowing you to receive a text or SMS message completely free, sometimes without even signing up. Usually they advertise themselves as something like “receive SMS online” or “SMS receive free”.
Here are some of the better ones we’ve found:
Just know that there are some major disadvantages to these sites:
- Many apps and sites will block them for verification
- Numbers are shared with hundreds of other users at a time, so sometimes a number is already registered with a specific app
- Some apps and sites will allow another user to access or delete your account using a verification text
- Texts are public, so you don’t want to receive any personal or sensitive info
Often, you’ll find yourself having to try numerous numbers before you’re able to find one that actually works for what you’re trying to do, which can be a little tedious. But again, they are free, and sometimes they can come in handy.
For a more reliable or permanent throwaway phone number, try one of the apps we discussed above.
How to Get a Temporary Phone Number: Wrap-Up
There you have it: a whole selection of apps for second phone numbers or throwaway phone numbers, plus some websites if you just need to receive a free text (SMS). Some are free and some aren’t, but even the paid services are pretty reasonable and usually offer free trials.
Which of these options is your favorite? We’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences with them in the comments!