After conducting extensive research and analysis, RingCentral is our 2020 pick as the overall best online fax service for small businesses. Rather than owning, operating and maintaining a dedicated fax machine, RingCentral's services effectively move faxing from the analog world into the digital realm. Through its strong feature set, emphasis on security and flexible user count, the California-based company leads the pack among its competitors.
You can learn more about how we came to our conclusions and see a comprehensive list of online faxing providers on our best picks page.
While most fax providers offer a free option for businesses that don't use the fax service too often, RingCentral does not currently offer such a choice, though they do offer a 15-day trial. That being said, the lowest tier costs $12.99 a month with an annual plan, so it's not the priciest product on the market.
RingCentral's monthly plans are as follows:
- Fax 750: $12.99 per month with an annual subscription, or $14.99 for a monthly subscription. This plan supports up to 750 pages, with a 5.9 cent charge per additional page.
- Fax 1,500: $17.99 per month with an annual subscription, or $22.99 for a monthly subscription. This plan supports up to 1,500 pages, with a 4.9 cent charge per additional page.
- Fax 2,500: $49.99 per month with an annual subscription, or $59.99 for a monthly subscription. The plan supports up to 2,500 pages and has a 3.9 cent charge per additional page.
- Fax Unlimited: $39.99 per month with an annual subscription, or $49.99 for a monthly subscription. The plan supports an unlimited number of pages per month.
The first three tiers come with one shared fax number, while the unlimited tier includes two shared numbers. Phone and web support are available for all but the Fax 750 tier. RingCentral offers add-ons to its fax service, including additional fax numbers for $4.99 per month, and toll-free and vanity numbers for a one-time fee of $30.
When it comes to the act of sending a fax online, there's very little that differentiates one vendor from another. They all take a digital file and transmit it to the intended recipient, much like an email or SMS message is sent. What sets one vendor from another, however, are the features they offer and the quality-of-life improvements that make the entire online faxing process even simpler for the end user.
While testing RingCentral's online faxing platform, we found that the company's robust range of features added a lot to the service it provided. Though not an exhaustive list, here are some of the things you can expect to take advantage of if you sign up for a RingCentral account:
- Accepted file types. When sending faxes, RingCentral supports common file types, including PDFs, DOCs, and various image files. You have the option of attaching a cover page. Faxes you send and receive are converted into PDFs for easy access.
- Accessibility. Both incoming and outgoing faxes can be accessed through a desktop computer, an email client or the company's iOS and Android apps. Additionally, RingCentral's fax service can integrate with many popular business programs, including the Windows Office suite, Dropbox and Google Drive.
- Notifications. You can set up the system to send email and SMS alerts to multiple individuals when faxes arrive. With proper access to the account, those users can then view incoming faxes.
- Recipient groups. You can send a fax to multiple recipients at once by creating groups with up to 50 email addresses.
- Toll-free, local and vanity numbers. You can choose from a list of toll-free, local and vanity numbers when creating your account. You decide which numbers you use for incoming and outgoing messages, and customize how your identification information shows up on recipients' caller ID.
- International faxing. RingCentral offers international faxing, but costs vary depending on the number of pages you send and the country your recipient is in.
- Fax storage. Up to 200 faxes can be stored indefinitely in an online account.
Pros of RingCentral
After committing numerous hours examining the online fax industry, we conclude that RingCentral is the most adept service provider at giving small businesses the tools they need to fax documents without the need for bulky equipment or supplies.
Chief among the reasons we made such a selection was the robust feature set they offer, their cybersecurity initiatives and their ability to work with small businesses to meet their specific needs. Like some of their other competitors, RingCentral's fax service lets users send and receive faxes through their preferred email client. Once set up, incoming faxes show up as regular emails. If a user wanted to send a fax via email, they would simply create a new message, add the fax as an attachment and send the email to the recipient's fax number "@rcfax.com."
We were also impressed with the number of software integrations natively supported by RingCentral. By connecting a preferred cloud storage solution like Box, Dropbox and Google Drive, users can send faxes directly from those services, either from a desktop computer, smartphone or other mobile device. RingCentral's faxing platform integrates with the Microsoft Office suite, allowing users to send and receive faxes right from their preferred program.
For users who want to ensure they never miss a fax, RingCentral can set up SMS alerts for incoming faxes. Mobile phone users also gain the benefit of using RingCentral's proprietary online fax app for either Android or iOS devices.
International faxing is available if needed, though that feature comes with additional costs that depend on the recipient country.
Cons of RingCentral
If your company doesn't send too many faxes in a 30-day span, RingCentral may not be the right choice for you. The company's lack of a low-volume option leaves out businesses that have minimal faxing needs, especially since many business owners send less than 100 pages of faxes each month. Still, given that the price is relatively affordable, and the plan includes features that aren't always provided without an additional fee, it may be the best option for businesses that won't get anywhere near the monthly page limit.
While RingCentral refers to its plans in terms of pages, it should be noted that it really calculates its plans based on minutes. The company assumes that one page equals one minute, but this depends on your internet speed. In some cases, users might send five pages in one minute, while others send one page in five minutes. This results in an uneven pricing system. However, the company's representatives made no efforts to hide this fact from us – in fact, they were the ones who illuminated it for us.
As part of our research and evaluation of online fax vendors, we interacted with RingCentral's customer service to get an idea of what the average user could experience if faced with a dilemma. In our conversations with RingCentral, the company's customer service representatives were calm, courteous and friendly. We asked questions about the company's features, pricing structure and other aspects of the service, posing as a potential client. In each instance, we were met with a quick and clear answer.
Additional support is available through the company's community support forum, which has more than 4,000 discussion topics. RingCentral offers live chat support and online support tickets.
For those who prefer speaking to an actual person, telephone support is available. However, 24/7 phone support is only available with the Fax 1,500 plan and up. Users of the Fax 750 plan still receive phone support, but not around-the-clock assistance. Customers can support between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Non-English support is offered Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central European Time.
Previous Best Picks
At Business News Daily, we are dedicated to finding the best products and services for small businesses. We know that your time is limited, and we invest hours into research and testing so you feel confident about our recommendations.
Each year we update our best picks. When we do, we investigate new changes and companies in the industry, and we thoroughly scrutinize products and services, both new and existing. Our process also involves revisiting companies previously selected as best picks to evaluate whether they truly are the best in their category.
In addition to our recommendations this year, to help you find the best overall online fax solution, below is one company we previously selected as a winner:
Ready to choose an online fax service? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage: