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The Best Conference Call Services of 2021

By Kiely Kuligowski,
business.com Writer
| Updated
Nov 24, 2020

Which conference call service is right for your business in 2021? We review the top-rated services.
Best Overall Service
Supports both call types
Accommodates up to 500 callers
Multiple price plans available
Best Free Service
Ideal for budget-conscious SMBs
Accommodates up to 1,000 callers
Reservationless
Best Within a Phone System
Offers flexible options
Accommodates up to 1,000 callers
Reservationless
Best for Remote Workforces
Hybrid system
Supports up to 100,000 callers
Free plan available
Which conference call service is right for your business in 2021? We review the top-rated services.
Updated 11/24/20

This page has been updated to include new frequently asked questions about the cost of conference call services, their security standards and how to evaluate if your business needs one.

 

With remote teams becoming increasingly common in businesses across the world, conference calling has become a vital part of modern business. There are many different options available in 2020, all with different features and benefits. We researched dozens of services and analyzed several factors, including pricing, types of services offered (reservationless or operator-assisted) and included features. In addition to our best pick selections, we cover how much you can expect to pay for a conference call service, the features they generally include and things you should consider when shopping for a conference call service.

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How We Decided
Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
28
Considered
17
Researched
4
Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

  Vast Conference FreeConferenceCall.com RingCentral Webex
Type (Reservationless, Operator-Assisted, Hybrid) Reservationless and Operator-Assisted Reservationless Reservation-less Hybrid
Number of callers Up to 500 Up to 1,000 Up to 1,000 Up to 1,000
Mobile app? Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Reviews

Vast Conference: Best Overall Conference Calling Service

Vast Conference is our pick for the best overall conference call service because it offers everything a business would want in a conference calling service. You can choose reservationless or operator-assisted services, there are multiple cost structures based on how often you use the service, and it offers a wide selection of valuable features. The reservationless service allows you to host conference calls at any time without scheduling them in advance. This option easily hosts up to 500 callers (and you can increase it by alerting Vast Conference to your needs). It offers customizable greeting options and includes call recording for no added cost. Hosts can control these meetings from their phone or the service's online portal. The reservationless service is available in both monthly and pay-as-you-go pricing plans. The monthly plans allow you to host as many calls as you want each month. The plans, which range between $15 and $40 per month, vary in the number of participants that can be on each call and cloud recording space. The pay-as-you-go plan supports up to 500 callers and costs 3.5 cents per caller, per minute. You can add callers into a meeting as it is going on by dialing out to them, and it’s easy to turn the meeting into a video conference so participants can see each other and view presentations or documents via screen sharing. For those looking to host larger and more formal conference calls, the operator-assisted service may be a better fit. This option can host calls with up to 6,000 attendees and provides a dedicated operator who helps you plan the call before it takes place, greets callers as they join in and remains in the meeting to handle any questions or conduct Q&A sessions. The operator-assisted service costs 16 cents per caller, per minute for a standard event and 19 cents per caller, per minute for a premium event. Regardless of the service you choose, there are no contracts with Vast Conference, so you can cancel at any time.
Read Review

FreeConferenceCall.com: Best Free Conference Call Service

Reservationless service supports meetings with up to 1,000 callers at a time.
Features include web management, call recording and calendar integration.
Operator-assisted meetings are not available.
FreeConferenceCall.com is our choice for the best free conference calling service because it provides a robust service for no cost. The reservationless service, which supports up to 1,000 callers at one time, includes many of the features businesses need conference call service, such as web management, call recording and calendar integrations. March 2020: While the service remains free, FreeConferenceCall is now asking users for a suggested monthly donation. The website gives users the option of paying $4, the suggested amount; $6, the average amount; or $15, the market rate. You can also donate your own custom amount. If you can't, or don't want to, pay, the service will remain free. We will take this new pay-what-you-can pricing model into consideration when we fully update this category. FreeConferenceCall offers two plans: its free plan and StartMeeting, the paid service. The biggest difference between both plans is that with the free service, participants hear an advertisement for FreeConferenceCall.com each time they connect to a call. There are also ads for FreeConferenceCall.com on the email invites that are sent out when scheduling calls. With the free plan, there are some add-on costs for extra features. For example, you can opt to have participants call in via a toll-free number for 3.9 cents a minute, and personalized numbers cost $3.95 per month. Add custom hold music and personalized greetings for $2 per month, and cloud storage space for $3 per month. In addition to traditional audio conference calls, FreeConferenceCall.com allows you to host online meetings for no additional cost. This gives attendees the chance to meet face to face (virtually, at least) and view presentations or documents via desktop sharing. FreeConferenceCall.com has a mobile app for iOS and Android devices, offers international calling options, and provides excellent customer support. If you need to host meetings with more than 1,000 attendees, you can contact FreeConferenceCall.com's large meeting services to arrange that. FreeConferenceCall.com does not offer operator-assisted conference call services. February 2020: The prices for StartMeeting were recently lowered to $12.95 per host, per month. StartMeeting's features include HD video calls, local dial-in for 66 countries, phone, mobile or web access, and toll-free 24/7 support. The paid plan supports up to 1,000 callers.
Read Review

RingCentral: Best Conference Call Service Within a Phone System

No special equipment or wiring is needed for this cloud-hosted business phone system.
RingCentral offers an array of calling, collaboration and mobile features.
Audio and video conferencing is not included in the cheapest service plan.
RingCentral is our choice for the best conference call service within a phone system because of its support for up to 1,000 callers at a time, which is far and above what many other phone systems offer. With RingCentral, each user has access to their own conference bridge, which can host unlimited conference calls with up to 1,000 participants. This is a reservationless service, which means users can host audio meetings without scheduling them in advance. The RingCentral mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices, makes it simple to join conference calls. With the app, you can quickly tap a button to connect to the call without having to dial in to the conference and enter a PIN. The conference call service is just one aspect of RingCentral that makes it a useful business phone system. RingCentral is a cloud-hosted unified communications system that is also our choice for the best business phone service. RingCentral has all of the calling and mobile collaboration features businesses look for in a phone system. Some of the more valuable features are voicemail, voicemail transcription, auto-attendants, call queues, softphones, call screening and instant messaging. It also includes HD video conferencing services. RingCentral is available in four plans that range from $29.99 to $59.99 per user, per month. Prices drop by $10 per user if you pay annually. There is a 30-day free trial period. Customer support is available by phone 24/7. In addition, the RingCentral website is filled with helpful training materials, including user guides, FAQs, videos and whitepapers. May 2020: RingCentral recently unveiled a new unified desktop app for both Windows PC and Mac computers. In addition to hosting and joining conference calls, users can seamlessly switch between RingCentral's phone, message and video solutions with the new app. It also has calendar integrations with Microsoft Office 365 and Google.
Read Review

Webex: Best Conference Call Service for Remote Workforces

Although this isn't strictly a conference call service, its flexibility to let participants join meetings by phone, combined with its robust web conference services, make it our top choice as the best conference calling system for businesses with a remote workforce.

The service is really a hybrid of web conferencing and conference calling services. The option to attend by phone opens meetings up to those who aren't always sitting in front of their computer.

The system features many valuable tools, including call recording and a call-me feature that automatically calls meeting participants at the time of the call. WebEx also allows the host to view a list of all the meeting's participants and pass along presenter controls so that participants can present ideas, plans and strategies to attendees.

What makes Webex ideal for remote teams is its Webex Teams platform, which comes included for all users. This is a digital workspace that includes group messaging, file sharing and HD video for online meetings.

Webex is available in four pricing plans. They vary based on the number of participants that can join a meeting, the amount of cloud storage space and the level of customer support. For the starter, plus and business plans, prices range between $14.95 and $29.95 per host, per month. There is a 10% discount for paying annually. Pricing for the enterprise plan is customized for each business.

Webex offers customer support by phone and live chat. In addition, the website includes a number of helpful materials, including training guides and how-to videos.

November 2020: Webex has announced two new features for its conference calling service: background noise removal and call queue availability. It now removes all types of background sounds while amplifying your voice to make you easier to understand. The call queue availability feature allows users to set their availability for when they receive calls to make call routing more effective and better enable work without a desk phone. This feature works on both the Webex mobile app and the desktop service.

April 2020: Webex is now offering a free service plan that allows users to host conferences with up to 100 participants. It includes a wide range of features and has no restrictions on how long the meetings can last. In addition to the free plan, Webex offers three paid plans that range between $14.95 and $29.95 per host, per month. There is a 10% discount for paying annually. In addition, for those who commit to a year of service upfront, Webex is offering four free months of service.
Read Review

Pricing

Pricing varies by provider; most conference calling services use one of two main cost structures: pay as you go and unlimited monthly.

With pay-as-you-go plans, there is a per-minute fee for each person on a call. For a reservationless service, fees typically range from 2 to 10 cents per minute, per person. For example, a 30-minute call with 10 participants would likely cost $6 to $30.

Operator-assisted services are more expensive. These calls cost 15 to 30 cents per minute, per caller. So, for example, a 30-minute call with 200 participants would cost between $900 and $1,800.

With unlimited plans, you pay a monthly fee and can host as many calls as you want for as long as you want. Fees for unlimited plans range from $7 to $60 per month.

Some providers charge extra fees for things such as toll-free calling, call recording and transcription services.

Many providers have set prices, so there isn't a lot of room for negotiation. However, there are some questions you can ask to ensure you are getting a fair price.

  • Ask if the service offers discounts if you agree to a long-term contract. Some providers discount their rates if you agree to pay annually, instead of month to month.
  • If you're a midsized or large business, see if the provider offers discounts for businesses that have a high call volume.
  • Ask if the provider will match the price of one of its less-expensive competitors.  

While many providers don't require you to sign a contract, if yours does, read the contract and verify that it has everything you agreed to and doesn't include any price increases after an extended period of time. It is also important to know how to cancel your service if you need to and if there are any costs to do so. There are several free conference call providers, though they may offer fewer features and services than paid plans.

Free Conference Call Services vs. Paid Services

Free conference call services are a budget-friendly way to communicate with clients and employees, and although free services tend to provide fewer features than paid services, there are plenty of free services that get the job done.

If you are looking to save money by choosing a free service, determine which features are must-haves. Most free services offer basic features that let you conduct conference calls without difficulty, but you may find yourself wishing you had the ability to host more callers or save call transcripts.

Free conference call services are just as safe and secure as paid plans; the only difference is that paid plans provide more features and support more call participants. Another difference you can expect to find is that you will likely have to listen to at least one ad when using a free service.

Buying Guide

Types of Conference Call Services

While many of today's unified communications and business phone systems include audio conferencing services, you can sign up for a separate conference calling service in conjunction with your phone system.

With these add-on services, you are typically provided a local or toll-free phone number you and attendees call to access the conference line. Each caller is then prompted for a host or participant access code. Depending on how you set up the service, participants are either placed immediately in the meeting room or put on hold until the meeting's host starts the call.

There are two separate types of conference call services: reservationless and operator-assisted.

Reservationless

Reservationless services are used for your everyday conferences and meetings. These calls can be planned in advance or held instantaneously. Your conference line is free to use 24/7.

Reservationless service generally includes features like call recording, the ability to manage calls online, options to dial out to attendees once a meeting has started, and a "call-me" tool that dials participants when the meeting is set to start.

Additionally, many reservationless conference call providers include the ability to host web meetings for no added cost. This allows for virtual face-to-face meetings via HD video, where you can share screens, which can helpful when making presentations or discussing documents.

The benefit of a reservationless service is that it is simple to use and available whenever you need it. Need to host an impromptu conference call? The conference line is ready to go. These services are also very cost-friendly; some are available for free. Those that aren't free typically offer unlimited monthly plans, which allow you to host unlimited conference calls each month for a flat fee, or pay-as-you-go options that charge you for each call based on how long it is and how many people are attending.

The biggest downside to reservationless services is that the host bears the responsibility of planning and running the call. An extra set of hands can be helpful in some situations, which is why businesses may prefer operator-assisted conference call services in some instances.

Operator-assisted

Operator-assisted services are generally used for more formal meetings, such as an investor call, and can accommodate thousands of callers at a time.

This type of service provides you with a dedicated operator to assist you before, during and after the call. Before the call, they help you plan the meeting and send out invitations. During the call, they greet callers and manage speakers and Q&A sessions. After the call, they provide you with participant lists, recordings and transcriptions.

With the added help provided by an operator, the host can focus on the presentation itself rather than being distracted by all the tasks that go with hosting a call, like monitoring who is in attendance.

Operated-assisted calls need to be planned in advance. This isn't the type of call you conduct at the last minute. These services are much more expensive than a reservationless service as well. Costs for operator-assisted services start at about 15 cents per caller, per minute. Depending on how many attendees you have, the costs could add up quickly.

Benefits of Using a Conference Call Service

Communication and collaboration – whether with customers or colleagues – are key components of any successful business in 2020, and conference calling services help facilitate these tasks. Whether it's for an impromptu brainstorming session or a formal presentation, conference calls mean dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people from anywhere around the world can be on one call at the same time.

Conference call services offer the following benefits for dispersed teams:

  • Ease of use. Conference call services provide the easiest way to connect with multiple people at once in real time. An in-person meeting requires everyone to be in the same location, but a web conference requires people to be in front of their computer. However, a conference call only requires attendees to be near a phone. Reservationless conference call services make it simple to set up and run an audio meeting efficiently. You can quickly send an email invitation that gives your attendees everything they need to join the call: the date, time, dial-in number and access number or PIN.

  • Integration with other apps. Many services integrate with Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar and other calendar programs. You can quickly schedule a call straight from Outlook. Once the meeting is scheduled, it is automatically added to your digital calendar. This also reminds your attendees not to forget the meeting.

  • Improved communication. When run successfully, conference calls can greatly improve your business's communication. If you're relying solely on long, drawn-out email chains, important details can get lost in the shuffle. In contrast, conference calls give multiple employees (or several employees and customers) a quick and efficient way to complete tasks and answer questions, making sure everyone is on the same page in a quick and timely manner. In addition, important feedback and discussion can take hours, or days, on an email chain; on a conference call, it can be taken care of in a half-hour.

Convenience, increased productivity and reduced costs are among the top reasons organizations adopt conference calling. Research shows that 70% of employees prefer conference call services for their convenience and ease of use. In addition, 96% of remote workers believe access to conference calling improves productivity because it easily allows for increased collaboration.

How to Choose a Conference Call Service

When searching for a conference call service, there are various factors you'll want to consider. First and foremost, you want to ensure the provider you choose offers services that fit your needs. Among the specific factors you need to consider are:

  • Ease of use: Your conference call service should be easy to use for everyone in your company as well as everyone you are conferencing with. You should be able to schedule a call, invite participants, and use basic features like call recording without difficulty.

  • Call quality: If there is a free trial offered, use it to determine the call quality. Does the sound come through clearly? Is there any lag time? Is your connection stable throughout the call? If you're using video conferencing, assess the video quality, sound quality, and lag time.

  • Security: As more businesses use conferencing to conduct meetings, security has become imperative. When looking for a conference call service, determine what security measures come with your plan. Can you lock meetings with a password? Is the meeting coordinator able to grant or deny individual users access to meetings? Are your call recordings kept confidential?
  • Number of callers: How many callers can the service support at one time? Some can support dozens, others hundreds, and others thousands. Make sure the service you select can host the number of callers you may need on a call at any given time.

  • Call controls: Some services allow the host to control the meeting by phone, and others allow the conference call to be managed online. These controls let the host know who is on the call, mute callers to eliminate background noise, start and end recordings, and lock the call so no one else can enter the room.

  • Call recording: Most services offer call recording. Some include it in the cost, while others charge extra for it. In addition, some allow for playback online, while others make you download the recording before listening to it. Many services also offer transcription services.

  • Dial out: Some services allow you to dial out during a conference call to add more people to the meeting while it is in progress.

  • Call me: Instead of requiring meeting participants to dial in to each conference call, some services give you the option of having the system automatically call them when the meeting is ready to begin. This frees you up from having to remember the dial-in and access numbers.

  • International conference calls: If you plan on hosting meetings with participants from outside the U.S., make sure the conference call service offers international numbers. Many services offer local and toll-free numbers in countries around the world.

  • Mobile app: Some services have their own conference call mobile app for both iPhone and Android phones, making it easy for hosts and participants to join conference calls when they're out of the office.

  • Integrations: Many services integrate with Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar. These integrations make it simple to send out conference call invites.

  • Video conferencing: Some conference call services include web conferencing, which features HD video at no additional cost. With this, you can host online meetings that allow everyone to see each other via video webcams. It also opens up the ability for screen sharing, which is beneficial when conducting a presentation or discussing a specific document.

  • Customer support: Is it easy to reach support when an issue arises? Some services have features that connect you with support team members during your calls should a problem arise.

  • Free trial: Many services allow you to test the service for a few days or weeks to ensure it meets all your needs.
  • Call quality: Most services have dedicated efforts to making call quality as clear as possible, but you can also improve call quality by wearing a headset, muting yourself when you are not speaking, and ensuring you have a strong internet connection.

  • Hold music: Many services provide the option to include hold music that plays while participants are on hold or are waiting to join the call. There are typically multiple choices of music to choose from.

  • Custom greeting: You can record a custom greeting that plays as new guests join the call.

  • Presentation tools: You can choose a service that offers tools for a seamless presentation experience, including screen sharing, drawing tools, presentation slides and document sharing.

  • Security: Security is important, especially when you're on sensitive calls. Many services provide security measures such as encrypted meetings and passwords.

 

Community Experts on Conference Call Services

We spoke to several small business owners about which conference call service their company uses, what they like and don't like about it, and their opinion of the provider's customer service.

Bruce Hogan, CEO of Software Pundit, is a fan of UberConference because of its ease of use.

 "The company offers a free plan and a $15 per-month plan that is still quite affordable. It has useful integrations like Slack and Hubspot," said Hogan. "The only major downside of the tool is that its free plan is pretty limited in features and functionality. Their customer support is very attentive."

UberConference is also the service of choice for Ian Kelly, vice president of operations for NuLeaf Naturals.

 "We've been fond of UberConference for years [because] it doesn't require a lot of tech savvy, so it's quick and easy to use both internally and externally," Kelly said. "It's easy on the budget, easy to use, and it gets the job done. We tried other providers, but for the price and features, UberConference fits the bill."

Reuben Yonatan, founder and CEO of GetVoIP, prefers RingCentral for their conference call services.

"What I like most about RingCentral is its reliability and enterprise-grade security," Yonatan said. "There isn't much I don't like about RingCentral, but if I had to choose, I would say the fact that it lacks direct Linux support."

Phone Systems With Conference Calling

Depending on the phone system you have, you might not need a separate conference call service. Most phone systems have some sort of built-in conferencing service. However, you need to determine whether the phone system's built-in conference bridge can support your needs. Some systems can only host conference calls with just a handful of participants, while others can support hundreds.

Among the business phone systems and business VoIP phone systems we reviewed, 8x8Nextiva and Grasshopper support fewer than 20 participants for each conference call. On the other hand, AvayaRingCentral and Phone.com support more than 50.

Besides the number of callers these built-in conferencing systems can support, most offer many of the same features as dedicated conference calling services, such as call recording and web controls.

Web Conferencing With Conference Calling

While some conference calling services also offer web conferencing, most allow you to connect to meetings via phone. Depending on your needs, a web conferencing service that allows remote attendees to join by phone could be a good fit. This gives you the flexibility to have web conferencing, which allows participants to see each other by video and participate with screen sharing and conference calling in one service.

Nearly all of the web conferencing services we reviewed allow participants to join meetings either online or by phone.  

Related Services: Webinars

Webinars are an important business tool that allow companies to find new customers, educate current clients and strengthen their customer service. With a webinar service, it's easy to create and share a PowerPoint presentation or conduct a live demonstration.

Attendees typically join a webinar or online meeting from a browser or mobile device without downloads or complicated codes. With many services, you can present from a mobile device.

Webinar software has three main feature categories: presenter tools, moderator options and webinar features. These focus primarily on the attendee experience, including security, integrations and needed downloads (if any) before they attend your webinar.

Integration with Outlook is a great convenience – you can invite, remind and schedule webinars straight from your email platform. Social media integration makes it easy to invite people at large, share webinars and have attendees promote for you. The best services also offer encryption and passwords for security.

With archiving, you can save recorded webinars and share links if you don't want to transfer files to your own website, though most services allow you to download the recordings as well. Most webinar services have limited editing software, usually just for cutting out sections. With this limited editing ability, you can remove dead time and off-topic questions for a higher-quality final product.

When searching for webinar services, there are several features and tools to look for. These include:

  • Monetization options: For businesses that use webinars for marketing and revenue, monetization features play an important role. Some services have lead-generation tools that go beyond simply asking questions during the registration or survey process. Also, some services, such as GoToWebinar, integrate with customer relationship management software so your sales representatives can follow up with attendees interested in your company or service. A logout redirect lets you send attendees to a URL of your choice after logout, such as a survey, a buy link or a webpage with more information about your product.

  • Host management: Webinars are meant to be responsive to the audience, so it's useful for presenters to see their planned slides before they post it for attendees to see. This allows presenters to adapt the presentation to the audience.

  • Dial-in: All services have VoIP capability and webcam functionality, but being able to handle dial-ins as well is a plus. Making sure attendees can at least hear a presentation when they are not in front of their computer is definitely a plus.

  • Screen sharing: Most every webinar service allows for screen sharing and loading of documents, such as PowerPoint slides, into a webinar "library" for use in the webcast itself. Some services let you share individual applications so you don't reveal your entire computer screen to attendees. This feature not only makes sharing more convenient but also adds a layer of security to the webinar.

  • Recording: A service that allows you to record the entire presentation is beneficial for sharing it with those who were unable to attend as well as for the host to review to see where changes can be made.

Other valuable features many webinar services offer include analytics and reporting, drawing tools, email automation, and the ability to take polls and surveys and conduct Q&As.

Among some of the more popular and reputable webinar services include Webex, Onstream, Webinato and ClickWebinar.

Related Services: Webcasting

Webcasting lets you live stream anything from company seminars to press conferences. Using webcasting software, you can increase brand recognition and promote your company to a wide audience.

Webcasting services have great recording and editing capabilities, and have become more mobile-friendly so that your listeners can view your material from any web-enabled device. This makes webcasting more on demand and user-friendly than webinar or web conferencing services that tend to be geared toward smaller and more defined audiences.

A successful webcast depends on the basics. Webcasts should be able to accommodate hundreds of attendees with the ability to expand to thousands if needed The fewer downloads needed, the easier it is for you, your presenters and your audience. Several services also have a phone-in feature for those who lack voice over internet protocol (VoIP) capability.

Webcasting offers much more versatility than webinars. Among some of the more valuable features webcasting services provide are:

  • Live streaming: Webcasts take place live. Webcasting apps allow you to live stream your presentation in HD video to anyone around the world.

  • Presenters: You can host a panel of speakers rather than a single lecturer; however, some limit the number of simultaneous video streams during a session.

  • Desktop sharing: You can share your entire screen or just specific applications. This is helpful when making presentations. Many services let you upload video to enhance your presentation. Other services, such as ClickWebinar, provide in-webcast slide preview, a useful feature that lets you skip or move slides during the webcast without the audience noticing. This lets you adapt your presentation on the fly.

  • Moderator tools: With webcasts that have hundreds or thousands of audience members, Q&A chats may become overwhelming for presenters and confusing to attendees. Moderator tools help you keep control of the chat while still receiving audience participation. The raise-hand feature makes it easy for the presenter to see who has a question. Muting or removing attendees can take care of troublemakers or those who simply don't realize their background noise is affecting the webcast. Most webcasts rely on text-based Q&A, but a few have audio Q&A. Some services even provide operators who can serve as moderators for your webcast.

  • Monetization: You can use webcasts for marketing and revenue (so monetization features can play an important role). Some services integrate with your PayPal account so you can conveniently receive payments. In addition, some webcasting software integrates with CRM software so that your sales representatives can easily follow up with attendees.

  • Branding: The best webcasting platforms let you brand your webcast room so it reflects your company and services. You can also program a logout redirect to send attendees to a URL of your choice as they leave so you can lead them to a survey or a webpage with more information about your product, or even a by link.

Other valuable features include recording, analytics and reports, and administrator controls. In addition, some services also provide specialists who will help you plan and run the event.

Some of the more popular webcasting services include Webex, Onstream Media, Adobe Connect, Webinato, GoToWebinar, and GlobalMeet Webcast.

Methodology

To determine the best conference call services, we started by looking at nearly 30 providers. We then separated vendors that had a good online reputation, such as those consistently ranked highly by other websites. We also visited each company's website. If a company stood out to us, we added it to the final list.

We ultimately narrowed down our pool to Arkadin, AT Conference, ConferenceCalls.com, Conference Town, FreeConference, FreeConferenceCall.com, Free Conference Pro, Infinite Conferencing, InterCall, No Cost Conference, PGi, RingCentral, Totally Free Conference Calls, UberConference, Vast Conference, WebEx and Zip Conferencing.

Next, we thoroughly investigated each service, watching tutorials and how-to videos, testing out the service when possible, and reading user comments. After narrowing the list down even further, we contacted the customer support team of our finalists, posing as business owners to gauge the type of service each provider offers. In all, we analyzed each system based on the following factors:

  • Type of conferencing services: reservationless, operator-assisted or both
  • Call controls
  • Call recording
  • Features
  • Integrations
  • Mobile apps
  • Cost and pricing structure
  • Customer support
  • International access
  • Better Business Bureau complaints and rating

Conference Call Services FAQ

How does a conference call service work?

Conference call services give businesses the ability to host calls with multiple people, regardless of where they are located, at one time.  While most modern business communication systems already include conferencing services, you can also sign up for a separate conference calling service in addition to your existing phone system. With these add-on services, you are typically provided a local or toll-free phone number you and attendees call to access the conference line. Each caller is then prompted for a host or participant access code. Depending on how you set up the service, participants are either placed immediately in the meeting room or put on hold until the meeting's host starts the call.

There are two separate types of conference call services: reservationless and operator-assisted. Reservationless, as the name suggests, are calls that do not require previous scheduling and are most often used for everyday communication. Operator-assisted calls are generally used for more formal meetings, such as an investor call, and can support thousands of callers at a time, with a dedicated operator who helps run the call.

Can I use Google Hangouts for conference calls?

Yes, Google Hangouts offers conference call services. To start a conference call in Google Hangouts, start a new conversation, then click New Group, and enter the names or phone numbers of the people you wish to add, then click Video Call or Message.

How do you set up a conference call?

The process of setting up a conference call will vary depending on the service you use and which type of call – reservationless or operator-assisted – you are making. The basic steps are to schedule the call, invite participants, and send the information participants will need to join the call, such as time, date, and link or phone number. You can read more about how to set up a conference call and read our tips for having a successful conference call.

What is a dial-in conference call?

A dial-in conference call allows multiple participants to be connected together seamlessly via a conference call bridge. Dial-in conferencing services are reservationless, meaning you do not need to schedule them ahead of time.

Do conference call providers offer free trials?

Yes, some conference call providers offer 14- or 30-day free trials. There are also a number of strictly free services. With these, you might not have access to all the features and tools a paid service offers, but you will have the basic functionality to hold quality conference calls. 

However, if you need a robust feature set, you should either look for a conference call service that offers a free trial or ask those that don't if they will let you test out the service for free for a week or two. Some companies might let you try the service if they know it will lead to a paid agreement in the future.

How many callers can be on a conference call?

It depends on the service provider. For example, if you are using a conference bridge that is built into your business phone system, you may be limited to hosting meetings with eight or 10 people. However, most dedicated conference call services let you host reservationless meetings with at least a few hundred people. The exact number may depend on the service plan you select. With operator-assisted calls, however, you can expect to be able to host conference calls with thousands of people at one time.

What to Expect in 2020

As was the case in 2019, we expect the integration of artificial intelligence into conference call services to continue in 2020. All types of call services, business phone systems, unified communications systems and conference call services, are finding ways to use to AI to make phone communication easier for users. 

One way AI is being employed is to "listen in" on calls, take notes and provide feedback on what is being said. These services are especially useful for conference call users. 

A number of unified communications providers that offer conference calling services, such as RingCentral and 8x8, have already invested in AI. Both companies have either acquired or partnered with AI companies to better incorporate the technology into their platforms. 

We expect additional dedicated conference call services to join this trend in 2020. By not investing in this type of technology, conference call services will lose out to larger unified communications system providers that are now offering their own stand-alone conferencing services. 

Kiely Kuligowski
Kiely Kuligowski,
business.com Writer
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Kiely is a staff writer based in New York City. She worked as a marketing copywriter after graduating with her bachelor’s in English from Miami University (OH) and now writes on small business, social media, and marketing. You can reach her on Twitter or by email.

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Other Services Considered

ConferenceCalls.com provides both reservationless and operator-assisted calls with a variety of tools to help your meetings run effectively and smoothly.
GlobalMeet by PGi offers basic web conferencing and conference call tools with its easy-to-use software. The software is easy to use and has a clean interface that makes it simple to enter, run and participate in meetings.

Infinite Conferencing, an Onstream Media company, is a reliable conference call service that provides quality, user-friendly phone meetings. You can easily manage and attend conference calls from anywhere around the world. Infinite offers both reservationless and operated-assisted conferencing services, giving you the flexibility to host any type of call, small or large, planned or spontaneous. Both options include valuable features and tools, such as the ability to customize your own greeting and phone number.

UberConference by Dialpad is a reservationless conference calling service that makes it simple to host meeting. The service can accommodate up to 100 callers at a time and includes a host of valuable features, including the ability to manage calls online, dial out to add callers to a meeting after its started and record meetings for playback at a later date.

Today, more than ever, businesses are prioritizing collaboration. To facilitate that, many organizations are turning to video conferencing to foster teamwork among their employees. This is where Webex by Cisco excels. Its features include messaging options, file sharing and the ability to start video calls in the middle of an online chat. It's for these reasons and many more that Webex is our choice as the best video and calling conference service for collaboration and for remote teams. 

The second service, Webex Teams, is a separate platform that all Webex Meetings users can access. Using the Teams app, employees can work together in one digital location. Staff can message one another, make video calls, host group video meetings, share files and bounce ideas off each other via the app's whiteboard tools. 

Webex Pricing 

With Webex, you have a choice of four service plans. Plans differ in price, the minimum number of host licenses, the maximum number of video meeting participants, customer support options, features and cloud storage. There are no time limits on the meetings, regardless of the plan you select.

Webex charges on a per-host, per-month basis, so to get the full value out of the Webex Teams platform, all of your employees will need their own license. 

Here are the specifics on each plan.

Free

  • Cost: $0
  • Meeting participants: Up to 100
  • Features: Desktop, application, file and whiteboard sharing options; HD video; active speaker, thumbnail, grid and floating views; personal rooms; web apps; calendar integrations; instant and scheduled meetings; host meeting controls; Q&A, polling and raise-hand features; interactive whiteboards; unlimited messaging and file sharing; emoji and GIF sharing; mobile screen sharing; and mobile voice command integrations
  • Customer support: Online support only

Starter 

  • Cost: $14.95 per host, per month
  • Meeting participants: Up to 50
  • Cloud storage: 5GB
  • Features: Everything in the free plan, plus recording transcriptions, MP4 meeting recordings, customizable personal room links, the ability to join from a video system or application, user management and administrative controls
  • Customer support: Available during business hours 
  • Optional add-ons: Domestic and international Call Me

Plus 

  • Cost: $19.95 per host, per month
  • Meeting participants: Up to 100
  • Cloud storage: 5GB
  • Features: Everything in the Starter plan, plus the ability to assign alternate hosts (and schedule meetings on behalf of the host), customizable Webex site URL, administrative portal, and analytics and troubleshooting
  • Customer support: 24/7 

Business 

  • Cost: $29.95 per host, per month
  • Host licenses: Minimum of 5 per month
  • Meeting participants: Up to 200
  • Cloud storage: 10GB
  • Features: Everything in the Plus plan, plus branding and customizations, single sign-on, and Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory sync
  • Customer support: 24/7 phone support 
  • If you pay annually rather than monthly, Cisco gives your business a 10% discount and four months free. Monthly paid plan users can get one month of free service upon signing up.

All three paid plans offer both domestic and international Call Me options for an added cost. For domestic callers, the feature is $4 per host, per month. For the international Call Me feature, the cost is $42.25 per host, per month. 

Webex Pros

Webex is an excellent choice for businesses that need both a video conference solution and collaboration platform. The biggest benefit of Webex is that you essentially get two platforms in one: On one side, you have a full video conference service that allows you to host video conferences with large numbers of participants inside and outside your organization. On the other side, you have Webex Teams, which gives you a platform designed specifically to allow your staff to connect with each other. 

With Webex Teams, employees can collaborate on ideas via messaging, video meetings and whiteboarding. Bundling this dedicated digital space with your conference call software saves you money; your business won't need to purchase a subscription to another team-based collaboration program. 

Another plus of Webex is its free service tier that allows up to 100 meeting participants and doesn't limit how long you can host a meeting. Most of the other video conferencing services we looked into that offer free plans have either smaller participant maximums or restrictions on how long each meeting can last.

Webex Cons 

One downside to Webex is the fee for the Call Me feature. Many conferencing services we evaluated include this tool for no extra cost. 

Another negative is that customer support is limited on the free and starter plans. With the free plan, you only have online customer service options, while the starter plan limits you to calling support representatives during regular business hours.

Webex Conference Calling Features

In addition to being the best video conferencing service for collaboration, Webex is the best conference calling service for remote teams.

By allowing users to connect by phone, Webex combines web conferencing and conference calling into one service. This option opens your meetings to people who can't be in front of their computers at the scheduled time, making it great for remote workers or staff whose work takes them out of the office regularly. Webex provides both toll-free and toll numbers, and you can dial in from anywhere around the world.

There are two options for hosting conference calls. One is for the host to log in online. Once the host has connected to the meeting via computer, everyone else can call in. The second option is for the host to choose a separate type of meeting room that allows everyone, including the host, to join by phone.

All Webex users, regardless of the plan they choose, have a dial-in phone option. The system also features many valuable tools that conference call services offer, such as call recording. All meetings can be recorded and shared as MP4A audio files.

Another feature for audio participants is the Call Me tool. With this, audio participants don't have to dial in. Instead, the meeting automatically calls them at the time it is scheduled to start, so they don't have to remember the dial-in number and the access code.

Webex also allows the host to view a list of all the meeting's participants. You can pass along presenter controls so that participants can present ideas, plans and strategies to the other attendees.

View all our recommendations for conference calling services on our best picks page.

Webex Features 

Between Webex Meetings and Webex Teams, there are several features that businesses of all sizes will find valuable, such as 720p HD video, speaker views that automatically shift the display to whoever is speaking, screen or application sharing, and meeting recordings that can be stored in the cloud. 

Webex Meetings has both desktop and mobile apps plus a web app that gives you full control of the conference from your web browser. Meetings can also serve as a conference call service. Everyone invited to attend a meeting gets a dial-in number that allows them to join by phone. While these participants can't see others or anything shared on the screen, they can listen in and share their thoughts. This solution integrates with several popular programs, including Office 365, Outlook and Google Calendar. 

Webex Teams has its own set of features, such as group messaging with notifications, file sharing, and whiteboarding that allows users to add drawings and notes to existing documents for collaboration. 

Customer Support 

We were satisfied with the customer support we received from Webex. We contacted the company by phone and live chat, posing as a business owner interested in video conferencing and conference calling solutions. 

Our call was immediately taken by a helpful representative who answered our questions thoroughly. We were especially pleased with how he explained the difference between Webex Meetings and Webex Teams as well as how they complement each other. We also discussed the various features and the cost structure. 

In addition to being thorough in his answers, the representative was the only one we spoke with during our research on different systems who followed up after our call with an email that included additional information. 

We were also impressed with the service we received over live chat. We were quickly connected with a support agent who answered all our questions in detail, and she sent along several links to articles that provided even more information.

Webex has an impressive website filled with helpful support materials, including training guides and how-to videos.

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