How Much Does an Answering Service Cost in 2024?

Depending on call duration, an answering service costs between $1.39 to $2.69 per call. The cost per minute will average $1.36-$1.43. Find out how much you will pay according to the type of services you need by starting here.

Featured Solutions




  • 31 Call Centers
  • 250 Languages Interpreted
  • $1.39/Minute


AnswerConnect  Logo


  • Email & SMS Messaging
  • Message Taking
  • $350/Month


Specialty Answering Service

Specialty Answering Service

  • Sub-account $10 Per Month
  • IVR $.15 Per Minute
  • $38/Month Base Rate


Answer America

Answer America

  • no monthly fee
  • 24-hour answering
  • $30/Month Base Rate

Calculating the Cost to Hire an Answering Service

Calculating the cost of an answering service with a rate of $1.39 per minute and billing in 30-second increments:

  1. Determine the Billing Rate per Increment: Divide the per-minute rate by 2 to get the cost per 30-second increment: $1.39/2 = $0.695 per 30-second increment.
  2. Calculate Total Cost: Multiply the per-increment rate by the number of increments:
    • Assume a call lasts “x” minutes and “y” seconds
    • Convert total time into 30-second increments
    • Multiply by the per-increment rate

Adjust “x” and “y” according to the actual call duration for a specific cost calculation.

Buying Advice For Entrepreneurs Branded Image

An answering service provides an off-site team of receptionists, sales representatives, and/or customer service representatives who handle inbound business calls. Answering services offer small businesses and companies of all sizes greater flexibility and cost-effectiveness than keeping inbound call handling entirely in-house. The cost of an answering service is a fraction of in-house staff and typically charge either for a discrete block volume of calls or a number of minutes per month. Average costs per call by industry will be:

Average Answering Service Cost

Industry Average Cost/Call Low End $ High End $
Medical  $1.60 $1.39 $4.53
Legal  $1.55 $1.37 $4.25
Real Estate  $1.44 $1.40 $3.30
HVAC  $1.39 $1.25 $2.80
Higher Education  $1.50 $1.40 $4.00
*Price ranges call center and call duration

Compare Answering Service Prices by Company 

To help get you started in shopping around for a professional answering service, we’ve gathered some sample pricing structures from some of the best answering service companies that help businesses avoid missed telephone calls and capture more potential customers.

AnswerNet Cost

Answernet LogoAs of January 3, 2024 the cost to work with AnswerNet is $49 a month. Answernet has some of the cheapest answering service plans for small businesses. AnswerNet’s answering service delivers efficient and flexible call handling, catering to diverse business sectors. Their responsive agents offer commendable customer interaction, though service consistency can vary. With scalable solutions and robust technology integration, it’s a competent service, albeit with room for user experience improvement. An adaptable, if not impeccable, option.

  • 31 Call Centers
  • 250 Languages Interpreted
  • Chat and Text Service
  • 1200 Employees

Ansafone Cost

Ansafone LogoIn 2024 Ansafone rates are $1.39 per minute, and they also offer several packages for larger use. Ansafone’s answering service overall had some of the cheapest price plans and provides reliable 24/7 customer support, ensuring no call is missed. Their professional operators handle calls with care and precision, offering a seamless extension of any business. The customizable plans fit various needs, though some may find the interface less intuitive. Overall, a solid choice for continuous connectivity.

  • 24×7 call answering
  • Outbound contact center services
  • Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
  • 50 Years of experience

Answer America Cost

Answer America LogoLocated in Willow Grove, PA, Answer America offers a range of pay-as-you-go plans. They start at $30 worth of credits and go up to $400 credits.

As of January 3, 2024 Answer America starts with a $30 package, which gives you 20 credits and each call uses $1.50 per call credit (20 calls). While at the $200 package each call will cost you $1.31 each and you get 133 credits.

There are a few things that are included in your plan:

  • no monthly fee
  • 24-hour answering
  • email messaging
  • text messaging
  • wrong number or hoax calls are free

Responsive Answering Service LogoResponsive Answering Service Cost

If you need an answering service for a specific industry then RAS can help. Their plans start at $99 a month for about 80 calls.

  • virtual receptionist
  • message delivery
  • dispatching
  • appointment scheduling
  • registration service
  • 24/7 answering services
  • Answering Service United Logocall screening

Expect the cost to rise as you select from the service offered.


Answering Service United Cost

Located in Lake Havasu, AZ, ASU can offer customized plans to fit your specific needs. As of January 3, 2024 the most basic plan will start at $50 a month. Included with all plans is a dedicated help desk and disaster recovery back up.

They will customize your plan so that it fits your business needs. This could include any of these services.

  • bilingual answering
  • 24-hour answering
  • dedicated agents
  • call overflow
  • appointment scheduling

AnswerConnect  LogoAnswerConnect Cost

In 2024 there are several plans for you to choose from that start at $350 a month and go up to $575 a month. For $350 you will receive 200 operator minutes and each additional minute will be billed at $2.50. The $575 per month program allots 400 minutes, and it’s billed at $1.85 per minute for any overage time. Both plants require a $49.99 set up fee.

The lowest-priced plan charged $1.85 per additional minute, and all other plans charge $.1.39 per additional minute. All plans require a $49.99 setup fee. Then you’ll get a suite of included services with your plan.

  • email & SMS messaging
  • message taking
  • 24×7 answering
  • appointment setting

SAS Answering Service LogoSpecialty Answering Service Cost

SAS is the most scalable answering service for your business. You can start with them at the most basic of plans at a low $38 a month at a rate of $1.39 per minute.

Then you can incrementally increase your plan all the way up to their top tier at $589 per month for 500 minutes. Then each additional minute is $1.19.

All plans require a $50 setup fee. There are no holiday fees, weekend fees, or line fees. You will pay additional fees for other services though. They also offer a 2-week free trial.

  • sub-account $10 per month
  • IVR $.15 per minute
  • Voicemail $.15 per minute
  • Patching $.10 per minute

Ruby Cost

Ruby LogoNewly updated in 2024 the starting plan for Ruby is $235 per month which will cover 50 minutes of receptions time. Additionally, you can purchase 200 minutes for $680, or 500 minutes for $1640 per month.

Ruby Answering Service is a virtual receptionist and live remote answering service that assists businesses in managing calls and client interactions. It offers personalized greeting, call forwarding, message taking, and appointment scheduling services, ensuring that businesses never miss important communications. Note that details could have changed since my last update, and I’d recommend checking their current offerings directly for the most accurate information. Advantages:

  • 24/7 Availability: Ruby Answering Service provides constant, around-the-clock availability, ensuring that businesses do not miss any important calls or client interactions.
  • Professional Customer Interaction: Trained virtual receptionists manage calls with a professional demeanor, providing high-quality customer service and enhancing business image.
  • Scalable Solutions: Tailored to meet various business needs, the service can adapt to varying call volumes and specific industry requirements, offering scalable solutions that grow with the business.

AnswerForce Cost

AnswerForce logoTecently, updated on their webpage, the entry plan in 2024 for AnswerForce is $279 a month plus a one time set up fee of $99. This plan a lot for 200 minutes of operator time +50 online chats. Overtime is billed at $1.95 per minute. For $389 a month for business will receive 300 minutes +100 online chats, and again overage time is billed at $1.85 per minute/chat.

AnswerForce provides a 24/7 live answering service, offering virtual receptionist solutions to businesses across various industries. They handle customer calls, web chats, and texts, ensuring consistent communication. Services include appointment scheduling, bilingual support, and lead capture, aiding businesses in maintaining a professional image and enhancing customer service quality. Note: Specifics might have updated. Advantages:

  • 24/7 Accessibility: Ensures continuous, round-the-clock communication with clients, preventing missed opportunities and providing constant customer support.
  • Multichannel Support: Offers a range of communication channels, including phone, text, and web chat, catering to diverse customer preferences and enhancing user experience.
  • Bilingual Services: Provides support in multiple languages, enabling businesses to cater to a wider demographic and ensuring clearer communication with a varied customer base.

Reception 247 Cost

Businesses can get started with reception 247 for just $39 a month which will include 25 minutes of operator time. Any overtime would be billed at $1.29 a minute. Alternatively, for $229 a month businesses can receive 200 minutes of talk time, billed at $1.19 for any overage time.

Reception 24/7 is a UK-based company providing 24/7 virtual receptionist and telephone answering services. They handle calls, take messages, and manage appointments, ensuring businesses never miss important communications. Note that for updated and detailed information, please verify from their website or contact them directly. Advantages:

  • 24/7 Availability: Ensures that businesses are always reachable, providing continuous customer support and never missing important calls or inquiries.
  • Professional Call Handling: Trained virtual receptionists provide a professional customer experience, managing calls, messages, and appointments proficiently.
  • Flexible Packages: Offers a variety of service packages that cater to diverse business needs, ensuring cost-effective and scalable solutions for companies of all sizes.

AnswerFirst Cost

AnswerFirst logoAs of January 4, 2024, the published rate for AnswerFirst is $30 a month, with rates running from $1.25 to $1.70 per minute, based on your overall usage. The company has a pay-as-you-go program with no minimum usage, and additionally, bills in true one second billing increments.

AnswerFirst is an answering service and customer support solution provider, offering 24/7 live answering services, including message taking, appointment scheduling, and customer support. It caters to various industries, ensuring businesses maintain reliable communication channels with clients and do not miss essential calls, while potentially enhancing customer satisfaction. Advantages:

  • 24/7 Live Answering: Ensures uninterrupted communication with customers, offering continuous support and ensuring no missed opportunities or calls.
  • Diverse Industry Application: Tailors services to various industries, adapting to specific needs and providing relevant customer support and communication solutions.
  • Flexible Service Options: Offers a range of service plans and solutions, enabling businesses to select options that best fit their operational needs and budget.

Reception HQ Cost

Reception HQSurprisingly reception HQ starts as little as $19 a month, which is a pay-as-you-go program and bills at $1.62 per phone call. Stepping up from there will cost you $75 a month which includes 50 calls, and any excess time would be billed at $1.55 per phone call.

ReceptionHQ is a virtual receptionist and answering service provider. It offers personalized telephone answering, message taking, and appointment scheduling services for businesses, helping them manage calls efficiently without the need to hire a full-time receptionist. Advantages:

  • Cost-Efficiency: Saves businesses money by offering virtual receptionist services without the overhead costs of an in-house employee.
  • 24/7 Availability: Ensures that businesses never miss a call by providing around-the-clock, professional call answering.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Enhances customer experience by providing prompt and professional responses to all calls and inquiries.

MAP Communications Cost

MAP CommunicationsGetting started with MAP Communications starts at $47 a month, includes zero minutes but instead is billed add an additional $1.37 per minute used. The company also offers an enterprise plan which allows for 225 minutes, and this plane cost $296 a month and bills at $1.28/minute for any additional time used.

MAP Communications provides live 24/7 answering and call center services to businesses across various industries. They offer tailored solutions like customer support, appointment scheduling, and emergency dispatch, aimed at improving customer experience and ensuring that clients never miss a call, boosting both efficiency and customer satisfaction. Advantages:

  • Customizable Services: Tailors its offerings, like customer support and appointment scheduling, to meet specific business needs.
  • 24/7 Support: Offers continuous, round-the-clock live answering services, ensuring no call goes unanswered.
  • Enhanced Customer Experience: Aids businesses in providing prompt and professional customer interactions, improving satisfaction and loyalty.

Does a Virtual Answering Service Cost More Than a Receptionist?

The cost comparison between an answering service and a full-time receptionist depends on several factors including the scale of operations, hours of coverage needed, and the complexity of tasks. An answering service typically charges a monthly fee based on the volume of calls or a per-call rate, offering flexible after-hours support and can handle high call volumes, which can be more cost-effective for businesses with fluctuating call patterns or after-hours needs. In contrast, a full-time receptionist, with a median salary of around $30,000 to $45,000 annually in the United States, provides a broader range of on-site services but comes with additional overhead costs such as benefits, office space, and equipment.

According to ZipRecruiter, the cost to employ a full time receptionist is:

  • Los Angeles, CA – $19 per hour ($39,520/year)
  • Houston, TX –  $16 per hour ($33,280/year)
  • New York, NY – $18 per hour ($37,440/year)
  • Phoenix, AZ – $16 per hour ($33,280/year)
  • Philadelphia, PA –  $17 per hour ($35,360/year)

For small to medium-sized businesses or those with variable call volumes, an answering service can be more economical, while larger businesses or those requiring dedicated, specialized tasks may find more value in a receptionist.


Phone Answering Service Plan Types

Cost For Answering ServicesYou can expect virtual receptionist services to cost you anywhere from $0.85 to $1.67 a call, or for higher end services upwards of four dollars a call. Pricing plans and extra cost usually fluctuates depending on how many minutes you need, which generally is determined at the small business owner just needs basic information, collected, someone to schedule appointments, and other factors that impact the level of service.

Standardized Plans: 

There are several plans that you will see when comparing answering services. Standardized plans usually are for a monthly subscription requiring less than 100 minutes per month, and mostly for businesses with very few inbound calls. Expect the base rate for this to be around $75-$149 per month.

Custom Plans: 

If you have a high call volume of more than 500 minutes your best option is to get a custom plan. When you have a high call volume you have negotiating power to set a lower price per minute. Different plans at this level can cost around as $1.60 a call, and lower prices, if calls are answered during normal business hours, and last less than one minute. These plans are very popular with medical practices, attorneys, universities, and businesses with moderate call volume at simply need a live person to capture customer information.

500 Minutes: 

If you are in this category you are considered a high-volume customer. You will probably use a lot of the additional services that are offered. So look for plans that include more additional services.

You can expect your cost to be anywhere from $499 to $700 a month. This can go up though if your additional services are add-ons.

200 to 250 Minutes: 

If you fall in this range, you’ll need to compare the plan carefully. You’ll find that many companies will charge you on a monthly basis. But you’ll find that you will spend less if you pay on a per-call basis.

This is also the usage range where additional fees for services will make a difference in your monthly cost. You can expect to pay in the range of $250 to $370 a month. These plants are normally a good fit for small law, offices, HVAC, companies, real estate, firms, and small healthcare practices.

100 to 150 Minutes: 

This is a low-volume plan where the additional services fees will take up a large portion of your monthly bill. You can expect the monthly fee to be around $150 to $230. This type of call-center service generally is a good fit four small businesses, roofers, plumbers, daycare centers, and spas. Additionally, this has been known to be a typical plan for restaurants, towing companies, and businesses that need a real person to handle phone calls after normal business hours.

Pay as You Go 

If you have a super low call volume this is your best option. You can expect to pay a low monthly service fee and then an additional fee per call. For example, $50 a month plus $1.38-$1.60 per minute.

Suggested Sites For Answering Service Providers: Association of TeleServices InternationalAmtelco, CamX

Answering Service: Per Minute vs Per Call. Which is Best?

Both per minute and per call answering services have their advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice depends on your business needs, call volume, and call duration. Here’s a comparison of the two:

  1. Per Minute: In a per-minute answering service, you are billed for the actual time your calls are handled by the answering service. This model can be beneficial for businesses with varying call volumes or shorter call durations.


  • Can be cost-effective for businesses with short call durations.
  • You only pay for the actual time the service is used.


  • Can become expensive for businesses with longer call durations or high call volumes.
  • It can be challenging to predict costs, as they depend on call durations and the number of calls.
  1. Per Call: In a per-call answering service, you are billed for the number of calls answered by the service, regardless of the call duration. This model is suitable for businesses with longer call durations or consistent call volumes.


  • Cost-effective for businesses with longer call durations.
  • Easier to predict costs, as they depend on the number of calls.


  • May not be cost-effective for businesses with shorter call durations.
  • You pay for each call, even if the call duration is minimal.

To determine which is best for your business, consider the following factors:

  1. Call volume: Estimate your average monthly call volume. If your business has a consistently high volume of calls, a per-call plan may be more cost-effective.
  2. Call duration: Assess the average duration of calls handled by the answering service. For businesses with shorter call durations, a per-minute plan may be more suitable, while a per-call plan may be better for those with longer call durations.
  3. Budget: Consider your budget and evaluate which pricing model aligns with your financial constraints.
  4. Predictability: Determine whether you prefer a predictable, fixed cost (per-call) or a variable cost based on usage (per-minute).

In summary, the best choice between a per minute and per call answering service depends on your specific business needs, call volume, and call duration. Evaluate these factors carefully to determine the most cost-effective and efficient option for your business.


Fees to Avoid When Buying Answering Services

You need to pay attention when you start comparing different answering services. They do not use the same pricing structure or provide the same services per cost.

This can lead to extra fees that you may not have initially planned on. These fees can also result in the cheapest price service becoming one of the most expensive.

Buyers GuideStandard Additional Fees

First let’s start with standard fees that all answering services charge, and ones that you can completely avoid. These are fees that will appear as an additional line item on your bill.

If you pay your bill late, you can expect there to be a late fee on your bill. Obviously, the way you avoid this fee is by simply paying your bill on time.

If you prefer to get paper bills instead of electronic you might be charged a fee. It’s cheaper for your service to send an email, so sign up for digital bills and save some money.

If you go over your agreed-upon used minutes you will pay elevated pricing. Avoid this by accurately predicting how many minutes your company will use, then pad that time so your plan allows for some fluctuation.

Short Billing Cycle

This one is just sneaky, and you may not even notice it costing you more money. But if your answering service charges you every 28 days instead of 30, they get in an extra invoice every year.

Don’t agree to a billing cycle that is less than 30 days. This will give you a bill every month, which will also match the rest of your standard invoicing.

Transfer Fees

Do you want the answering service to take calls and record messages? Or do you want them to transfer certain calls to you or your employees?

All answering services are going to charge you a certain amount for transferring calls. The trick is to pay attention to how you get charged.

Advice for Anything Business Branded Image

The best method for you is a flat fee per call. This is a flat rate for each transfer. Usually, this fee will range from $.25 to $1.25.

The other common method is billing for the time on the phone. You will pay for the entire time that you are on the phone. This means that your bill can get astronomical if your call then lasts 45 minutes.

Incremental Billing

This may not be a big deal if your individual call volume is low. The way incremental billing works is the service will round up your call time to the nearest minute.

So if a call lasts less than a minute, you are still charged for a full minute. If a call lasts 3.1 minutes, you get charged for 4 minutes.

This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if the answering service takes three calls in less than a minute, it will be a big deal. Now you are paying for 3 minutes of service, that only costs the answering service 1 minute.

This will be a nasty surprise when you get your bill and find that it is significantly higher than your actual use. So if you know your call volume is high, ask about incremental billing.

Holiday Pricing

Depending on your business, this one may not affect you at all. Some answering services will charge special rates on national holidays.

You may not care about your phones getting answered during these days. But if you do, ask what the rate is. It could be anywhere from $5 to $15 per national holiday.

Think about your monthly call volume. If you get less than 20 or so calls a month, then that holiday fee will be a big chunk of your bill.

Especially when you think about the fact that there is a national holiday in 6 out of the 12 months.

Foreign Language Fees

These are additional fees that are less common, but if they apply to your business, you’ll need to pay attention to them.

Do you need an answering service that speaks more than one language? Expect to pay extra for your foreign language calls. This could be charged as a per-call rate or as a flat monthly fee.

Simultaneous Call Answering

This one is a big deal if your call volume is higher and you get more than one call at a time. The answering service will only answer one call at a time.

Then if you complain and want a higher answer rate, you’ll have to pay extra. This is ridiculous, you are paying for an answering service, you shouldn’t then have to pay extra for the service to answer the phone.

Random Fees

There are a whole host of fees that will have random names.

  • Telecomm recoupment fee
  • Message retention fee
  • Universal service fund fee
  • Voice recording and logging fee
  • HIPAA compliance charge

While some of the fees are completely justifiable, you’ll need to confirm with the answering service what exactly you are getting for the extra fee.


How Much Does an After Hours Answering Service Cost?

Typically, the cost of engaging an after-hours answering service aligns closely with the costs of a standard daytime call center. When considering an after-hours phone answering service, the price range is usually between $1.36 and $1.42 per minute. The cost for each call is calculated by multiplying the call’s duration by the per-minute rate. For example, a two-minute call would likely cost around $2.80.


5 Steps to Estimating Answering Service Costs for Businesses

Each business is unique, and the cost of an answering service will vary based on your specific operational needs and customer service setup. To assist you in understanding the potential expenses, here’s a detailed guide:

Step 1: Assess Your Monthly Call Volume

Start by figuring out your monthly call intake. Review your call logs or phone bills. If your business phone system includes call analytics, that’s a helpful resource too. Account for both answered and missed calls.

If you lack precise data, estimate your call volume based on your business size, employee count, and industry. For instance, a small retail store might typically receive 20-30 calls daily.

Step 2: Calculate Average Call Length

Next, find out the average length of your calls. Analyze your call logs, phone bills, or analytics data. To calculate, add up the total call duration for a month and divide by the number of calls. This formula gives you the average call duration:

Total call time / number of calls = average call duration

For instance, if you get 100 calls a month totaling 300 minutes, the average call duration is 3 minutes.

Step 3: Select an Appropriate Plan

Answering services offer various plans and pricing models. Choose one that aligns with your call volume, average call duration, needs, and budget. Plans are usually priced per minute or based on a fixed monthly minute quota.

Step 4: Request a Custom Quote

With your call volume and average duration determined, ask for a tailored quote from your preferred answering service. Some providers offer online calculators for an estimated cost based on your specifics. Providing them with your call logs or bills can lead to a more precise quote.

Step 5: Account for Additional Costs

Remember, there are extra costs beyond the base service fee. These may include:

  • Call Patching/Live Transfer: Charges for connecting callers directly to your staff.
  • Custom Call Scripting: Tailored scripts aligning with your brand and values.
  • Custom Development: Advanced system integration or programming, usually priced individually.
  • Online On-Call Scheduling: Systems for scheduling on-call staff, updated in real time.
  • Online Reporting: Access to call records, messages, and statistics.
  • Pre-recorded Messages: Custom greetings or messages, with recording time counting towards monthly minutes.

Also, consider potential discounts for annual contracts or bundled services to save costs.

Request a FREE Demo

People That Viewed This Page Also Found These Pages Helpful:

Call Center Services
Appointment Setting Service
Outbound Telemarketing