How to Get Two Telephone Numbers (Lines) on One Cell Phone

Cellphones make you constantly accessible, but they can become inconvenient when you have two numbers you must answer all day. For many people, this is a work number and a personal one. Instead of trying to keep up with two cellphones and paying both their carrier expenses, several companies offer options to enable you to use two lines on the same phone.

Businessman using mobile phone at park
Talk to your family and your customers on the same phone.
credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Call Forwarding

A free, simple and quick fix for answering two lines on the same cellphone is to use call forwarding. This works best when you have a landline you want to answer on your cellphone. It's possible to forward from one cellphone to another, but you won't save money on carrier charges that way. To forward from either a landline or cellphone, enter the call forwarding code, such as "*72" and enter your cellphone number. Listen for the tone that tells you the forwarding was successful, often three quick tones. Phone service providers and business phone systems have different forwarding procedures, so verify yours before attempting to forward. This method isn't perfect. It doesn't always show you the number that's calling, just that the call is a forwarded one, and your cellphone number shows up on the caller ID of any calls you make. (ref. 1)

Third-Party Programs

When you need more functionality than call forwarding, use third-party programs to make your cellphone work with two lines. Google Voice, for example, gives you a permanent number you can forward to any phone, or even multiple phones in succession to ensure you don't miss a call. Downloading the app to your cellphone provides extra functionality, such as access to Google Voice contacts. Line2 offers several options to enable your smartphone to answer two lines. OneSuite Business lets you get an extra line for your phone and additional lines for others, such as family members or employees. (ref. 2)

How They Help

The third-party programs offer several benefits in addition to letting your phone answer calls to an extra number. Google Voice lets you screen and filter incoming calls so only the ones you want to answer make it to your phone. Also, it provides a voice mail service that sends the messages to your email for convenience. Line2 offers services such as visual voice mail and conference calling as well. OneSuite Business service has more of a global focus, with special rates for overseas calls as well as global call forwarding.

Potential Downsides

Each service has cons to go along with the pros, so research the options carefully to determine which one fits your needs. Most third-party programs don't show your name and the secondary number when you dial out; call recipients see either a blocked number, a generic number or your main cellphone number. Google Voice, for example, only shows your secondary number if the recipient uses Google Voice as well. Line2 and OneSuite Business charge for many services, so you might end up paying monthly fees for the functionality you need.