How to Call a Pay Phone

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You can call a pay phone number easily, but not all pay phones accept incoming calls.

Not everybody owns a cell phone and can make a call whenever desired. A pay phone can be a lifesaver for the person without a cell phone, especially in cases of emergency. A pay phone call lasts only a certain amount of time, depending on the amount of money you enter into the phone before and during the call. When you dial a pay phone, the call lasts until somebody disconnects the call.


Step 1

Locate the phone number for the pay phone. The number is located on the front. Use pay phone directories to find unknown pay phone numbers (see Resource).

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Step 2

Tell the person you're calling the exact time and date you'll be calling. This ensures that your call is not intercepted by an unknown party.


Step 3

Use your land line or cell phone to call the pay phone number. Wait for the call to go through. If you don't hear the “ringing” sound that indicates the call went through, disconnect the call. Redial the pay phone number using all 10 digits in the number.


Ask the person you're calling to stand outside the pay phone at the exact moment you're calling. Doing so ensures the person hears the pay phone ringing.

Some payphones may have the ringer disconnected. In these cases, have the person call you from the pay phone. Then disconnect the call and immediately dial the pay phone number. The person will know to pick up the phone within 10 to 20 seconds of the disconnected call, despite no ringer.


Not all pay phones accept incoming calls. There is no way to call pay phones that don't accept incoming calls.

You may be charged a fee for calling a pay phone number. Consult your phone company or phone bill for more information.