Client meetings, team check-ins, interviews, discussions, presentations, virtual trivia nights and happy hours—however you need to connect with your employees and customers while you’re working remotely, one of the seven best free conference call services can help you do it.
To clarify, most of the free conference call services on this list offer tiered pricing plans, one of which will include a free plan. So, depending on the free service you sign up for, your available features, caller thresholds, and maximum call durations might be limited. That said, all of these platforms offer reliable audio and video conferencing for small business owners, along with other useful features like chat and collaboration tools.
Here’s what you need to know about each of these seven free conference call services.
Best Free Conference Call Services for Small Businesses
We can’t talk about free conference call services without mentioning Zoom. Equally useful for business-related meetings as it is viewing parties, catch-ups with loved ones, workout classes, and any other virtual gathering you want to host or join, Zoom is arguably the world’s most popular video conferencing app right now. As a cloud-based app, Zoom works on any Mac or Windows device; and once you’ve downloaded it, the interface is simple to navigate.
Zoom has both free and paid pricing plans. Their free plan is perfectly sufficient if you’re a single-person business or freelancer, mostly conduct one-on-one meetings, and/or your meetings tend to be on the shorter side. Their Basic plan gives you unlimited one-on-ones and allows you to host up to 100 participants, but group meetings have a 40-minute cap. The next-highest tier allows meetings up to 24 hours, and it costs $14.99 per host per month.
Some other useful features with Zoom’s Basic plan include simultaneous screen share, a waiting room, basic host controls (like the participants’ audio, video, and screen sharing options), and group messaging. Also worth noting: Zoom recently rolled out updated security features in response to the security and privacy breaches Zoom users have reported.
2. Google Meet
After Zoom, Google Meet—the updated version of the classic Google Hangouts feature—might be the most popular free group-call service for small businesses. It’s definitely among the simplest and most straightforward, so this is another good option if you manage a very small team and tend to run pretty casual meetings.
Meet is available with every paid G Suite account, but you don’t need to pay extra for it. Participant thresholds vary depending on your G Suite account type: Up to 100 participants are allowed with G Suite Basic, up to 150 with G Suite Business, and up to 250 with G Suite Enterprise. Meet is compatible with Apple and Android devices.
Users can join meetings via a link or URL code, a synced Google Calendar event, through the browser or mobile app, or they can dial in by phone. Hosts and participants can also present to the entire meeting or individual windows and send chat messages while in a video meeting. Higher-tiered G Suite plans can record meetings, too.
3. Microsoft Teams
It’s likely that Skype was your entry point into video calling as a consumer—the platform launched way back in 2003—and Skype for Business, which has recently evolved into Microsoft Teams, continues to provide a reliable video conferencing service for consumers and small business owners alike.
Microsoft Teams is available with any Microsoft 365 account, but users can also download the chat-based platform as a standalone service. The free plan includes video and audio conferencing, screen sharing, and customized backgrounds for up to 300 people. More broadly, Microsoft Teams features unlimited chat on a platform similar to Slack, file sharing, collaboration in Office documents, and access to over 250 apps and services that integrate with your Teams account.
An up-and-coming contender to G Suite and Microsoft 365, Lark is a cloud-based collaboration software for small businesses that integrates chat, calendar, 200 GB of cloud storage, creation tools, and audio and video calls into a single, streamlined platform. It’s compatible with Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices, and the full version is completely free.
Lark Meetings, the platform’s conference calling feature, is fully integrated with the platform, so you can call your team by clicking the audio or video icon within the chat feature, via calendar invite, or through a URL or meeting code. You can start or join meetings from any device you’re using, switch among devices mid-chat, and share screens and content. Lark Meetings supports up to 100 participants for an unlimited duration.
The name pretty much says it all: FreeConference.com is a free conference call service—and it’s not much more or less than that. But with overwhelmingly positive ratings on all major review platforms, it’s safe to say that this free conference call service gets that job done well.
More specifically, one of their four available pricing plans is totally free. This plan allows up to 100 audio participants, five web participants, free international dial-in numbers, video conferencing, screen sharing, a mobile app, an online whiteboard, document sharing, and a meeting chat.
Their three paid plans have a few more features, like toll-free numbers, audio and/or video recording, auto transcription, and a meeting lock. All three paid plans also have a 100-participant cap, but you can contact sales to expand your plan’s caller capacity, whether that plan is free or paid. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, FreeConference.com is offering their Starter Plan (which costs $9.99 per month) free for the first two months after sign-up.
Not to be confused with FreeConference.com, FreeConferenceCall.com offers a unique pay-what-you-can model. They do provide suggested monthly fees—$4 is suggested, $6 is average, and $15 is the market price—but they’ll accept custom amounts, including $0 if you can’t or don’t want to pay right now.
You can download this cloud-based app via either the Apple Store and Google Play for use on both desktop and mobile. Audio meetings can hold up to 1,000 callers, who can call in using either domestic dial-in numbers, U.S. toll-free numbers, VoIP, or a meeting link. The platform supports international conferencing from a number of countries as well, and in-app language support is available in select countries. Audio conference calls can last up to six hours, and you’re allowed unlimited calls.
Video conferencing is also available for up to 1,000 participants at a time. You’ll find all the video conferencing features you’ve come to expect, including screen sharing, chat (with emoji), drawing tools, and recording and playback capabilities. The host can also use the remote desktop tool to take control of other screens.
Last but not least: UberConference. The Free version of their two available plans features unlimited conferences, screen sharing, call recording, mobile apps, and HD quality audio and video—standard fare for a basic, free conference calling service. The interface here is more modern and intuitive than services like FreeConference.Com and FreeConferenceCall.com, if that’s important to you.
Typically, the Free plan allows up to 10 participants and a 45-minute maximum call duration; but in light of COVID-19, UberConference is now allowing longer durations and calls with up to 50 participants.
For the most part, the decision about which conference call service will work best for your business depends on the maximum number of participants and call duration you need. If you have a very small team and mostly conduct check-ins, for example, then you’ll be just fine with UberConference’s limited capacity on both fronts.
Otherwise, you may want to opt for something like FreeConferenceCall.com and their impressive 1,000-person, six-hour limit on audio calls. After that, it makes sense to sort through each service’s additional features to find what you want and need to run your business. Equally important, of course, is to go with the free conference call service that’s easy for you and your team to use so you can stay connected, wherever you are in the world.
- TheVerge.com. “Zoom Releases 5.0 Update with Security and Privacy Improvements”