The difference between 800, 888, 877 and 866

There are four toll free area codes, 800, 888, 877 & 866.  Technically they all work the same.  However in terms of their marketing image and results for the advertisers, there are obviously some differences. 

The simple explanation is that 800 is essentially .com, 888 is .net and 866 and 877 are like .info, .biz or country codes.  They all technically work the same, but from a marketing standpoint 800 is the king.  800, or 1-800 is more than just a toll free area code but it’s a brand name.  That’s the real difference between 800 and 888 at this point, just the “brand name” value.  It’s the industry default that the one the biggest advertisers use. 

888 is understood and is has some uniquenes to it.  There’s no 777 or 999 and it’s able to be remembered as one string.  For all but the largest advertisers or the ones that rely heavily on credibility, it’s often an acceptable alternative, just like the .net in domain names.

 866 & 877 are like .info or .biz in that even though they technically work the same, they give a smaller home based or newer type of image.  They look more like regular area codes and you definitely have to reinforce that they’re toll free.  You may also lose some callers who think toll free and wind up calling the 800 version.

“800″ is the original toll free area code and has had billions of dollars in advertising and become so wide spread and accepted that the term “800 numbers” is basically a generic term for all area codes of toll free numbers.  By the way, that’s also why 800 is the only area code we usually put a 1 in front of.

888 numbers were introduced in 1996 after several months of rationing. 888 is intrinsically good and memorable and has some uniqueness since there is no 777 or 999 area code. There has also been a fair amount of use, particularly with companies that couldn’t get a good 800 number because of the way they were issued. So although the biggest companies still tend to use 800, 888s are extremely popular and recognized as toll free.

877 was introduced in 1998, and 866 numbers were later added in 1999. They functions exactly as 800 and 888 numbers do, and although they work exactly the same, as “800″ and “888″ numbers, they don’t have the same marketing power. First of all, 877 and 866 look like any other new area codes and have no intrinsic numerical significance or memorability. Secondly, they don’t have the same amount of public use. Both 877 and 866 had only a fraction of the promotion that 888′s did at their introduction and they simply haven’t had the volume of public use that 888 had, even at the same stage in it’s life. Additional area codes such as 866 have also added to the confusion.

866 and 877 have their place, but that’s generally more for personal non-business or smaller business uses because they get fewer wrong numbers. If the calls are revenue generating and you are spending money in advertising to generate the calls, 866 or 877 numbers will cost you money. Just as it is harder to build a brand name around a country code domain name. They may technically function the same as .com, but they don’t generate the same results in marketing. The same is true with 800 numbers.

800 is the .com. It’s the default and the one that the big money and fortune 500 companies have used and will continue to use. 888 is the equivalent of .net. It has some uniqueness and is somewhat memorable. It’s seen and understood by most as an alternative. The main difference between .com and .net is the brand name, and the same is true for 800 and 888. You’ll still lose some calls to the 800 version, especially for applications which involve spontaneous recall or require the caller to dial from memory but at least it gives you an alternative. That doesn’t mean though, that if you can’t get the first 800 you wanted, that your second choice should automatically be the 888 version of this number.

You also have to realize that you have to not only know what you want, but you also have to take what you can get too.  The more advertising you do, the more you need a better number, and the less advertising you do, the less you need a “brand name” 800 number.  If you’re small and just starting out, you already know you can’t afford the best of everything, and that’s probably true with your toll free number too.

    1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (8 votes, average: 3.88 out of 5)
    Loading ... Loading ...


    adam boyd says:
    February 17, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Would you recommend we place more importance on an 888 over an 877, or take the key word we want most in the number?


      Bill Quimby (666 comments.) says:
      February 17, 2009 at 9:22 am

      Hi Adam,

      There’s no absolute answer to your question of area code or terms. Overall I usually say that what you say matters more than the voice you say it in, but it’s definitely a judgment call. The more advertising you’re doing and the more you’re aiming for a fortune 500 big company image the more important it is to have the ‘800’. This is even more important for an elderly audience or situation where credibility is a key factor in the sale.

      But overall the most important thing in your advertising in general as well as the toll free number, is the message. Many people confuse a generic term related to your business as the message though. Your message is essentially the point of your advertising. And if the point of your advertising is that you’re in X business then you’re never going to get past “Me To” marketing and stand out. Find a creative slogan and stand out.


        Sean says:
        May 31, 2010 at 9:08 pm


        Sorry to bring back a relatively old post alive. I’m looking to get a toll free number for our company.
        Would you recommend we get a vanity 866 or 877 number, or an obscure 800 number?

        In our business, the remembering of the number is not THAT important, most people who’ll call will be calling us by looking up our number through our website or our business cards, not a billboard or a tv/radio advert.

          1 ping

          Business_link says:
          October 11, 2011 at 11:38 pm

          [...] 877 Toll Free » The Internet’s Toll Free Search Engine for Vanity 1-800 Numbers [...]

            RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

            Leave a comment

            Random Testimonials

            Testimonial 158 out of 1983

            Having made today the "find out about toll free phone numbers," thus far, your site has been the most informative, by far.

            ABC Property Transactions

            Testimonial 1434 out of 1983

            I must say, the website is very user friendly and while it took about a day to find a number, that was because so many numbers were already taken, but without your service it would have been impossible to do so. In fact, we tried several numbers with our local telephone representative and after about 10 “not available? he just told us to go to your site and find one.

            I believe this was against company policy, since another rep told us he was not suppose to do this, but I think it is a testimony to how effective your site really is. I think Qwest is probably using your site to find their customer’s toll free phone number!

            Great site, good customer service and I would recommend your site.

            Jeremy SasserCollins
            Foster Family Coordinator
            Magic Valley Youth and Adult Services

            Testimonial 1705 out of 1983

            Premier Performance Real Estate Group 'Our Performance is Guaranteed!'Your website and system for purchasing an 800# has got to be one of the best and easiest ever. There is no guess work. As I went through the process, if I thought of a question you had the answer. You know your customers, you know our needs, and you make it easy. I would absolutely use you first for 800# purchases and recommend you to all my friends!

            Tony Perrette, CA

            Testimonial 198 out of 1983

            You and your site are a pleasure to work with. I particularly appreciate the accessibility of pertinent information and your friendly helpfulness.

            Miranda Castro
            homeopath, author

            Testimonial 235 out of 1983

            Thank you for making the setup so easy! The website is phenomenal, it makes searching for a number so easy. The customer service kept you updated with the progress throughout the transaction. Expect referrals, Thanks again

            Peter Martini
            Branch Manager
            Premier Mortgage Funding Inc

            Testimonial 625 out of 1983

            Thanks for the personal phone support as well as the prompt activation of my
            877 number. Our phones started ringing in less than 30 min!
            Again, thanks for the very personal and professional service.

            Tom Hanan
            VaultStor Corporation
            VaultStor Corporation

            Testimonial 1554 out of 1983

            This company rocks! No Hidden charges at all. For $49.95 I got a very good looking 800 number, very easy to remember. It was activated instantly, plus they are giving you 30 day 100 minute 'test drive' for absolutelly no charge.

            Joe F.
            Meditourinfo Medical Tourism Agency

            Testimonial 503 out of 1983

            Just wanted to say how easy it was to aquire an 800 number using your service, it was so simple that I was concerned that I wasn't doing it right. You made it very straightforward with no suprises, the way business should be. Thanks for your service, I will recommend it to everyone I know.

            Thanks again,
            Mal Bollman

            Testimonial 66 out of 1983

            Bill did an excellent job answering my questions and setting me up with a toll free number. I was surprised by the quick response and impressed by the wealth of information on his website. I would highly recommend anyone to use his website and services. On a scale from 1 to 5, I give Bill a Big 5.

            Larry C

            Testimonial 1035 out of 1983

            Bill Quimby and has become a necessary and valuable resource for us. Before, we would spend hours of time searching for tollfree numbers for clients. When we could not find a suitable number, or it took too long, we lost clients. Now we can tell them in moments what is available or even let them search for themselves. The after-sale support is superb! Bill is the expert!

            Joel Black
            Diamond Voice Messaging & Information Services

            UGG Online Cheap jimmy choo Canada Goose Gloves Moncler Vests Outlet Moncler Jackets Outlet Moncler Coats Outlet Moncler Men Jackets Outlet Christian Louboutin Pumps Jimmy Choo Shoes Christian Louboutin Pumps sale