GrandCentral: Free Local Number, Rings Any Phone, Lots Of Features

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Tired of juggling multiple phone numbers? Or just need an extra one? You should check out GrandCentral Beta, which offers all kinds of new tricks with phone calls by utilizing VoIP and the internet. First and foremost, they offer you a free local phone number from 47 states.

One Number For Everything
I think the main idea behind the name is that this free phone number will become your only phone number. This way, if you move or change jobs you can keep the same number forever, or at least for as long as you like. To entice you to do so, they add in some cool features. For example, when a person calls your GrandCentral number, you can:

  1. Have them call different phone numbers in order, for example home, then work, then cell phone. So people only need to know one number to reach you anywhere.
  2. Immediately redirect them by Caller ID to a specific phone number. Maybe certain friends just go straight to cell phone?
  3. If they are a known telemarketer, you can set the spam filter to not ring your phone at all.

An Extra Number For Personal or Business
The way I’ve been using the free number is as my new business phone number. This way, you have a separate business number to give out to customers, but it can ring your regular cell phone. You can know that it is a business call by setting the caller ID to display your “Biz” GrandCentral number, and answer professionally.

They even have a cool WebCall button where a customer can click on your webpage and call directly you for free.

Avoid Long Distance Charges
Added: I haven’t worried about long distance for a while now, but you could also use it to avoid long distance charges for your friends (or yourself), by getting a number in one area code and forwarding it as needed to another area code. Thanks to commenter Ross below for the tip.

Get More Free Minutes With T-Mobile MyFaves or AllTel Circle
Both T-Mobile and AllTel have plans where you get unlimited calls to and from a few select numbers. So here, you would set your “Personal” GrandCentral number as one of your favorites. Then, just tell everyone to call the GrandCentral number instead, which will redirect to your cell phone, giving you unlimited minutes! It would seem that you would lose the ability to see who’s calling, however.

They also offer store your voicemail all in one place with unlimited storage, and have a ton of other features that I’ve never used yet. You can record phone calls, switch seamlessly between your home phone and cell phone to save more minutes, screen calls by name, and more.

Will This Stay Free?
It seems like unlimited inbound calling will remain free, but I’m sure they will start charging for some of their premium features, like calling outbound. From their FAQ:

Will GrandCentral always be free?

Yes, we’re excited to say that we will always offer a free version of GrandCentral, even after beta. Our free version will include unlimited inbound minutes, unlimited voicemail (up to 30 days old), and access to all of our core features.

During beta, we’re giving everyone unlimited access to our premium features. In exchange, all we ask is that you send us your feedback (good or bad) to beta@grandcentral.com. We’ll read every comment.

Got a better idea of how to take advantage of this service? Please share in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for another really useful post. I didn’t want to change my cell number (from before I moved) but school required I have a local number as well. This is the perfect solution. 🙂

  2. great find! you said in your blog you were using this for your business #, yet in the terms in conditions they say they don’t want you using it for commercial use….

    “Effective upon acceptance of this Agreement, GrandCentral hereby grants to Subscriber a personal, nonexclusive, nontransferable, revocable license to access and use the Services (as defined below), for Subscriber’s non-commercial use.”

    so they encourage you to link it to your job line so you have 1 constant work #, but they don’t want it used for commercial use? i’m slightly confused about that part, or maybe i’m just being stupid and missing something here…?

  3. I kind of read that as “you can’t sell this number, it’s just for your own use”, meaning you don’t actually own the number. But I agree, it could be interpreted your way as well. They do push it as a way to replace your work phone number too, though. There might be some liability concerns on their side as well? I don’t really know.

  4. Hey, just wanted to comment that ive been using this for a few weeks and that when the calls go to your cellphone callerid will still work. GC sends over the number of the person that called your GC number. Although, you can turn that feature off and have it always display your GC number as the one calling you.

    Hope that made sense.

  5. Thanks for your comment – made sense to me 🙂

    Yes, GC lets you do “Caller ID passthrough” if you wish. I only use my GC numbers for specific purposes, so I like to know when someone is actually using it. But you have the option of either.

  6. I love this service. I found it before we bought a new car and it came in real handy when dealerships asked for my phone number. I always had the number kick them to voicemail, trust me they will always leave a voicemail, and then I coud get the messages in one place and answer on my own terms. After we had purchased a vehicle I changed the voicemail message for all the people in my salesmen group accordingly. I also registered for a number in my parent’s area code so they could save on long distance charges when calling me.

  7. Good ideas, Ross!

  8. Mercedes says:

    Like ross said, it does work as a number ‘scanner’; I setup this account when I was looking for a way to record a call for the sheer ability to do so; was reading some article; anyways went out and got an account with them. When I was looking for a replacement vehicle I also gave them this number which they spammed like crazy- I also made the mistake of giving them my cell during a slip up when I meant to give them my grandcentral number so I got bombarded anyways with call and messages. I also use it to take or not to take calls from work 🙂

    I also have my family leave me messages there since my cellphone is by the minute since I don’t talk much on there.

    Also works great for craiglist since I can then call back when I verify that it is a call I wanted and not some random person.

  9. Thanks for the notification of this great service. As usual, Jonathan, you deliver info on great products/services with exceptional signal to noise ratio!

  10. This is a great find! Thanks.

  11. We just started to use our cell phones in conjunction with GrandCentral as a replacement for our Vonage line. You can read more about the switch by visiting my blog (simply click on my name).

  12. pretty cool, I just signed up for business use.

  13. Does anyone know what features are core features and what features are premium features? I’m curious to know what features I’d have to pay for once it came out of beta.

  14. I have been using GrandCentral for a few months now and its pretty good so far. I have my customers calling me on it, so I can talk to them no matter where I am.

  15. Ever since the Techcrunch and the Iowa number fiasco, I have been constantly on the lookout for cheap international call. I have been using Jajah for couple weeks now and found that you were at least able to get 120 minutes of free international calls. It’s not really related to GrandCentral, but nonetheless a pretty good deal.

  16. I signed up for this service for a while now, but did not use it. Until now, you mentioned it. I think I can save some long distance call for my mom. thanks again.

  17. Very cool, now if only they decided to include Canada. 🙁

  18. Actually, even if you don’t have the Caller ID enabled, if someone calls you and that person is listed in your address book, it will say the name when you pick up the phone and then give you the option to pick up or not.

    It’s great.

  19. Can you invite me so i can get in on the fun? thanks … love the great advice btw…. i just signed up for sero after getting hosed by t mobile for a year…

  20. It is now an invite-only service and I’d like to use it. Would you please “invite” me so I can sign up? Thanks.

  21. I would like an invite to this grandcentral.com please.

    Thank you very much for your assistance.

  22. Can I get an invite for grandcentral? Thanks

  23. Please, no more requests for invites at this time.

  24. I like GrandCentral, but there are a few ‘hangups’ (pun intended)

    – you can’t forward two GC numbers to the same phone: I setup a local number and one in Chicago, but can’t get them both to ring my cell

    – you can’t forward a GC number to another GC number: tried this since my first option didn’t work – no go

    – you can pick the number of rings before voicemail picks up: GC sends a call to voicemail after about 15 seconds; I tested this by calling my cell to my GC number which forwards to my home…however, after a couple rings then call screening picked up, then a clicking noise, then the 15 or so seconds of ringing, then another pause for click, then finally voicemail picked up….by the end, this took over a minute for a caller to leave a voicemail – that’s took long for my business clients

    But apart from that I really like it, and it’s just so darn coooool!!
    –bp

  25. Here’s a question for you. How is Google’s aquisition affecting GrandCentral? Also, is there some way around the invitation only membership? I don’t have a membership yet, and I would definitely like to use this service.

  26. brandonjp says:

    chad–
    you could aways check ebay and buy an invite….or…. get a website so that when you post comments like this your username would link to your website so that in the event a nice person wanted to send you an invite you could make yourself open to receive one
    –bp

  27. Missmissy says:

    I’ve just found this website. I wonder if at this time the author of the article would send me an invite? I’m a broke college student and need the service.

    Thank You

  28. Thanks 4 the info guys! I’m going to check grandcentral and ebay for an invite. any updates on that?

  29. I also have trouble picking up the line in time on my cell, seems like most of the time a pick it up and press 1 the person has hung up for the call has already gone to voicemail and my phone stops ringing and says missed call.

    I wish they would have a way to automate pressing 1 to pick it up.

    Also, I would like more options to restrict when people can get thru. I would like to just send it to voicemail between Midnight and 6am.

    One great thing is that I used my GC number for CRC registration, we get so many marketing calls from that, now it is easy to block them so they can’t call back.

  30. are there any other company like grandcentral? that offer free local numbers

  31. When will they start issueing new accounts? I have put in a “Reserve a number for me” for a few weeks now (with two different names).
    No dice!
    If anyone hears of other sevices like this, please post!
    Thanks!

  32. Amit Jolly says:

    Hi,

    Can someone please send me the Grand Central Invitation.

    Thanks In Advance.

    -Amit

  33. anyone plz send me a grand central invite!
    thanx in advance on my id seephonly@yahoo.com

  34. Invites are not currently available.

    http://www.google.com/support/grandcentral/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=94683

    “GrandCentral invites are temporarily unavailable, but will be back soon. We appreciate your patience.”

  35. It appears as if no invites are being sent out right now. If anyone has verified info re: how to get an invite I would appreciate getting one.

    -G

  36. It would be highly appreciated if i could get an invite i have waited for six months to no avail as of yet……

  37. I would like to get an invite also to get the number. please advise.

    David

  38. I would like to request an invite if there is any possible ways to get it.

    Thanks

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