Best Conference Call Services of 2020
June 4, 2020
As the remote workforce grows in 2020, the ability to communicate with employees and colleagues around the country is critical. Conference calling services help facilitate that collaboration. The best conference call services can connect dozens or even hundreds of people at one time, offer features like call recording and screen sharing, and are affordably priced. As part of our process, we researched nearly 30 options to help you determine the best one for your business. You can see our recommendations below, as well as how much you should expect to pay for a conference call service, the different types of services and what features to look for in a service.
Additionally, we've provide a comprehensive list of conference call services at the end of this page in case the options we recommend aren't good fits for your business.
Editor's note: Looking for the right conference call service for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
The reservationless system, which supports up to 500 callers at a time, 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 for one flat fee. Prices range from $14.99 to $39.99 per month. The plans vary in the number of people that can be on a call at once and cloud storage space. The pay-as-you-go plan costs 3.5 cents per minute, per caller.
The operator-assisted service, which is typically used for large formal conference calls, can handle calls with up to 6,000 participants. You have access to an operator who will help you plan and run the call; they go over itineraries, send out email invitations, greet callers and conduct Q&A sessions, among other things.
Conference Calling offers a wide selection of valuable features, such as customizable greetings, dial-out options, call recording and web controls. You have access to HD video conferencing tools for video calls, which also allows screen sharing for presentations.
There is also a paid plan – StartMeeting – that costs $9.95 per month. The biggest difference between the two plans is that those using the free service are presented with ads for FreeConferenceCall.com when they join a call. Ads for the service are also included in email invitations that are sent to participants. The paid plan doesn't display ads.
Both plans include call recording, web meeting controls, keypad commands, and the ability for participants to leave a main conference to join a breakout room for a subconference call.
FreeConferenceCall.com also lets you host online meetings with screen sharing, chat tools, drawing tools and recording options.
The service integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar and offers a mobile app for iOS and Android devices.
The system allows any user to host a conference call without scheduling it in advance. The Microsoft Outlook integration makes it easy to schedule a meeting, and it's free to record calls. RingCentral offers local dial-in numbers in more than 50 countries for meetings with callers located outside the U.S.
The conference call services are included in the RingCentral Office platform, a unified communications system that offers everything businesses need in a phone system. It has a wide range of calling, collaboration and mobile features, including voicemail, voicemail-to-email, one-touch calling, call recording, auto-attendants, IVRs, and a softphone. It also includes video conferencing and a mobile app for iOS and Android devices.
Costs for RingCentral Office range from $29.99 to $59.99 per user, per month. You save $10 a month per user if you pay annually. There is a 30-day free trial.
For anyone to join a meeting by phone, the host must join online by computer or change the meeting settings to allow everyone to connect from their phones. Those on the phone can participate just as if they had joined from a computer. Webex includes call recording and a Call Me tool that allows the system to call you when the meeting is set to begin.
Webex is available in three pricing plans that vary in the number of people who can attend a conference, how many host licenses you can have, the cloud storage space and the level of customer support. Prices range from $14.95 to $29.95 per host, per month. You save 10% by paying annually instead of monthly. Webex also offers a free plan with limited features.
A bonus of Webex is that all users have access to its Teams platform. This is a digital workspace designed to facilitate collaboration among employees. It includes group messaging, file sharing and whiteboarding.
Conference Call Services Pricing
Conference call services typically have one of two cost structures. Some charge you on a per-call basis, while others charge a flat monthly fee for unlimited use.
With pay-as-you-go plans, you pay a per-minute fee for each caller. For a reservationless service, these fees typically range from 2 to 10 cents a minute. Operator-assisted services are more expensive, with per-minute fees of 15 to 30 cents. Remember that these per-minute fees are for each participant on the call. For example, a 30-minute reservationless call with eight callers, including the host, would likely cost between $4.80 and $24. A 30-minute operator-assisted call with 100 participants would cost between $450 and $900.
Unlimited monthly plans are usually only available with reservationless services. With these plans, you can host any length of meeting as often as you want. Unlimited monthly plans tend to range from $7 to $60 per month. Many conference call providers offer multiple pricing plans that vary in how many people can join a call at one time.
Depending on the service provider you choose, there might be some extra fees. Some providers charge extra for things like call recording, translations, transcripts and custom greetings.
Free Conference Call Services vs. Paid
Free conference call services are a budget-friendly way to communicate with clients and employees. Although they tend to provide fewer features than paid services, there are plenty of powerful free conference call providers that get the job done.
If you are looking to save money by choosing a free service, make sure you know which features are must-haves and which you can live without. While most free services offer basic features that enable you to conduct conference calls without difficulty, 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 can support more call participants.
Types of Conference Call Services
There are two main types of conference calling services: reservationless and operator-assisted. While the two cover the same basic function of allowing multiple people to be on one conference call at a time, they vary in how they are used and how many people they support.
Reservationless service: This type of service allows you to host conference calls 24/7, with no advanced scheduling needed. Your conference line is always available to you. This type is used for everyday conference calling and generally supports anywhere from 50 to 1,000 callers at a time. It includes valuable tools such as call recording and online host controls.
- Operator-assisted service: If your business holds formal conference calls that need a personal touch, choose a provider with operator-assisted services available when you need them. With this type of service, a dedicated representative helps you plan the meeting ahead of time by sending out invites and ensuring the call's itinerary makes sense. During the call, the representative greets callers, gathers their contact information, and manages speakers and Q&A sessions. After the call, they can give you the participant list and a recording and transcript of the call.
Conference Call Service Features
When you choose a conference call service, it is important to ensure it offers what your business needs. These are the most important features to look for:
Caller limits: Choose a service that can support the number of meeting attendees you have, whether that's five, 10, 50 or several hundred clients. Many reservationless services support several hundred callers, while most operator-assisted services can handle several thousand callers at a time.
Secure calls: Many conference call service providers offer security measures to help keep your business's information safe and secure, such as passwords, encrypted data, and manager permissions to grant or deny access to meeting participants.
Call controls: With some services, the host can manage the call from their phone's dial pad; other services allow the host to control the call from an online portal. Both options give the host the ability to mute callers, start call recordings, share their screen, lock the call and end the call. The web controls give the host the added benefit of seeing who is on the call.
Call recording: Most services allow you to record each conference call, but they differ in how the recordings can be played back. Some providers store them in the cloud so those who missed the meeting can listen online or by calling in and accessing a recording over the phone. Other providers allow you to download the recording so you can play it back or email it to others. Some services burn the recording to a CD and mail it to you.
Mobile conference call app: Some conference call services offer a mobile app for iOS and Android devices that makes it simple to schedule, host and participate in conference calls from a mobile device.
International access: If you plan to host conference calls with participants located overseas, make sure the conference call service you choose makes it easy for them to join the call. Many services offer local dial-in numbers in countries around the world.
- Calling tools: There are two main calling tools that you may find valuable. One is a dial-out feature that allows you to put your conference on hold and add someone to the meeting by calling them directly. The other is the Call Me option, which has the service call participants when the meeting is scheduled to begin. This removes the necessity of holding on to the dial-in and access numbers.
Ease of use: Your conference call service should be easy to use for everyone in your company and anyone else you will be 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, 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, look at the video quality, sound quality and lag time.
Integrations: Some conference call services integrate with email and calendar services. These integrations, such as with Microsoft Outlook, simplify the process of scheduling conferences and sending out meeting invites.
Online meetings: Many conference call services include online meeting tools, such as HD video streams and screen sharing. These tools allow you to see everyone who is in the meeting, make presentations visual, or discuss specific documents that everyone can view.
- Customer service: Make sure the conference call service provider you choose is available to answer your questions when you need it to be. In addition to offering phone, email and live chat support, some services allow you to contact an operator for help in the middle of a conference call by dialing *0.
What to Expect in 2020
Artificial intelligence's role in conference calling services will likely expand throughout the rest of 2020. Currently, several different companies use AI to turn phone calls and conference calls into smart calls. Instead of diligently taking notes during an important call, you may be able to turn that task over to a bot that can take notes for you and provide you with all the key points when the call is over.
One phone system and conference call service provider, Dialpad, has already introduced this type of technology in its services. Last year, Dialpad acquired TalkIQ, a provider of speech recognition and predictive analytics technology. With this tech, Dialpad (which also offers UberConference) unveiled VoiceAI. The new feature provides real-time call transcriptions and end-of-call summaries that include action items, follow-ups and important moments.
While Dialpad is one of the first to build this type of technology into its core platform, we expect other providers to follow suit. Artificial intelligence is becoming more prominent in a wide range of B2B services and software, and vendors don't want to see all their competitors get a leg up.
Conference Call Frequently Asked Questions
How do conference call services benefit remote workers?
Conference call services provide several benefits to remote workers, mainly easy communication with everyone in their company and anyone else they work with. A good conference call service makes it simple for workers to connect with each other and increase their productivity.
Do conference call providers offer free trials?
Most conference call service providers do offer free trials, ranging from two weeks to a month. The companies that don't offer free trials may offer free versions of their services.
How many people can join conference calls?
The number of participants you can have on a conference call depends on which service and which of its plans you choose. Some companies can support thousands of attendees, usually on operator-assisted calls, and most reservationless calls can at least support hundreds.
How do you organize a conference call?
The process of setting up a conference call varies by the service you use and the type of call (reservationless or operator-assisted). However, the basic steps are to schedule the call, invite participants, and send out the information they will need to join the call, such as time, date, and link or dial-in number.
To help you find the best conference calling service for your business, we extensively researched and analyzed a wide pool of companies. Here's how we arrived at our best picks.
Locating the Best Services
To determine the best conference calling services, we started by looking at a comprehensive list of nearly 30 conference call service providers. We pared that list down by focusing on vendors that have solid online reputations, such as services with consistently high rankings on other websites.
Choosing the Best Services
We visited each company's website from our initial list of 30. If a company stood out to us, we added it to the short list. We eventually narrowed the pool of contenders to 17 service providers: Arkadin, AT Conference, ConferenceCalls.com, ConferenceTown.com, FreeConference.com, FreeConferenceCall.com, FreeConferencePro, Infinite Conferencing, InterCall, No Cost Conference, PGi, RingCentral, Totally Free Conference Calls, UberConference, Vast Conference, Webex and Zip Conferencing.
Researching Each Service
We continued to research each contender by investigating its services, 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 each finalist, posing as business owners to gauge the service each provider offers its users.
Analyzing Each Service
Ultimately, we analyzed each system based on its type of services (reservationless, operator-assisted or both), call controls, call recording, features, integrations, mobile apps, cost and pricing structure, customer support, international access, and Better Business Bureau complaints and rating.
Other Services Considered
AnyMeeting: AnyMeeting by Intermedia is a web conferencing service that includes conference calling for up to 200 callers. Your AnyMeeting account includes a conference call number and PIN codes for you and your attendees. Pro subscribers can provide their attendees a U.S. toll-free number to call for their meetings. As a conference call host, you'll have full call controls, including the ability to mute and unmute attendees, lock the call, and control entry and exit chimes. anymeeting.com
Arkadin: Arkadin offers both reservationless and operator-assisted conference calling services. Arkadin Anytime, the reservationless service, hosts meetings with up to 100 participants and features call recording, one-time PINs and phone keypad controls. The operator-assisted service provides a dedicated representative who helps plan and manage your conference call. arkadin.com
AT Conference: AT Conference is a completely on-demand conference call service that allows you to conduct calls 24/7 using any landline or mobile phone. It has an easy-to-use platform with cloud conferencing tools. AT Conference also offers operator-assisted conference calling services. atconference.com
Civicom: Civicom offers both on-demand and operator-assisted conference calling services. The on-demand service supports up to 2,500 callers, while the operator-assisted service can host meetings with as many as 5,000 callers. Features include call recording, full host controls, secure entry, pre-conference green rooms, hands-free conference entry and instant call summary reports. civi.com
ConferenceCalls.com: ConferenceCalls.com's audio conferencing is easy to use, and its reservationless conference calls require no contracts or commitments. It has local access coverage in over 20 countries, along with toll-free access and global dial-out options. The reservationless service supports calls with up to 50 people and lets you record calls. Operator-assisted conference calling is also available. conferencecalls.com
Conference Calls Unlimited: Conference Calls Unlimited provides phone conferencing, web conferencing and operator-attended services. The company offers custom pay-per-use and monthly pricing. The on-demand service is available 24/7 and includes call recordings. conferencecallsunlimited.com
ConferTel: ConferTel by Civicom offers on-demand, unassisted audio conferencing for everyday use as well as operator-assisted services for large-scale, high-profile conference calls that require special attention and white-glove concierge services. Features include call recording, custom greetings and transcripts. confertel.net
ConferenceTown.com: ConferenceTown.com was developed to offer free conference calling to both corporations and casual users. It allows you to start a free conference instantly, without registering or signing up. The service supports up to 5,000 callers at a time and records calls for no charge. conferencetown.com
FreeConference.com: FreeConference.com offers a complete set of free audio and web conferencing features, including international dial-ins, moderator controls, call summaries, screen sharing, call recording and SMS notifications. The reservationless service can host calls with up to 400 participants at a time. freeconference.com
Free Conference Calling: Free Conference Calling is a reservationless conference call service that allows you to host meetings on demand with up to 1,000 callers. The service features call reports and an online conference manager. freeconferencecalling.com
Free Conference Pro: Free Conference Pro is a free, full-featured audio conferencing service. You can make unlimited conference calls without paying for any bridging time. Both on-demand and scheduled conferencing is available, and both options can support up to 800 callers at one time. freeconferencepro.com
Infinite Conferencing: Infinite Conferencing offers reservationless and operator-assisted conference calling services. The reservationless service, which supports up to 100 callers, includes dual passcodes, international dialing, dial-out, call recording and mobile apps. infiniteconferencing.com
InstantConference: InstantConference is a reservationless conference call service that can support up to 150 participants on each call. The web-based moderator controls let the meeting host monitor attendance and activate call features, such as recording the call or changing the muting configuration. An online control panel displays available caller ID information, and you can ping individual participants to take roll call. instantconference.com
InterCall: InterCall's Reservationless-Plus service does not require reservations or operators. You control the conference commands from your telephone keypad, and you can select English, Spanish or Portuguese for your system prompts. In addition, you can use the Conferencing Center to manage your account and conference calls online. InterCall also offers customized features and operator-assisted services. intercallonline.com/ResPlus
No Cost Conference: No Cost Conference provides instant, unlimited, automated conference calls that are free and take place over regular telephone lines (including cell phones) – no computer or internet access is required. The conference call services are available 24/7 with no scheduling. Callers may also access conferences via VoIP services like Skype. The service can host up to 500 callers at one time. nocostconference.com
OnConference: OnConference is a conference call service with toll-free access in more than 100 countries. No reservations or advanced bookings are required, and you can host up to 96 participants. You get your own dedicated access codes, and the service features call recording. onconference.com
PGi: PGi's GlobalMeet offers both reservationless and operator-assisted options. The reservationless service features call recording and web controls. The operator-assisted service helps you plan and run the conference calls. Customer support is available 24/7. pgi.com/globalmeet-audio-conferencing
QConf: QConf is a reservationless conference call service that features unlimited conferencing minutes, call recording, Outlook and Google integrations, branded welcome messages, custom invitations, real-time controls, and SMS reminders. qconf.com
Toll Free Conference: Toll Free Conference offers both reservationless and operator-assisted conference calling services. Reservationless meetings can host up to 300 callers, while the operator-assisted service can support up to 6,000 participants at a time. The service features call recording, web-based call management and a conference call reporting platform. tollfreeconference.com
Totally Free Conference Calls: Totally Free Conference Calls allows you to host a conference whenever you want, no reservations required. Free calls support up to 500 callers at a time; for a nominal fee, you can increase the limit to 10,000. Features include an echo canceler, full web controls, call recording, scheduled replays, presentation mode, Q&A mode and reports of the call's details. totallyfreeconferencecalls.com
TurboBridge: TurboBridge provides a conference calling service where all parties dial in to the system. No special equipment is required, and most callers dial in with a standard landline or mobile phone, though you can also connect through a computer. The service can host meetings with up to 300 callers at one time. Call recording is available for no extra charge. turbobridge.com
UberConference: UberConference by Dialpad is a reservationless conference calling service that allows you to launch meetings from the office, at home or on the go with any device. It features screen sharing, call controls, custom hold music, Call Me tools, call recording, dial-out options, international calling, and mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. uberconference.com
Zip Conferencing: Zip Conferencing offers reservationless and operator-assisted conference calling services. The reservationless service, which can host meetings with up to 300 callers, includes call recording, customizable settings, call blocking and multiple-presenter controls. The operator-assisted service can host meetings with up to 3,000 participants. zipconferencing.com
Editor's note: Looking for the right conference call service for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.