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What is a burner phone number, how to get one, and why?

Digital lifestyle
What is a burner phone number, how to get one, and why?
Digital lifestyle

What is a burner phone number? How and where can you get them? Is there an app for that? Read it all in this article.

Burner phones. You might recognize them from television series or movies. Disposable cell phones that aren’t linked to your personal identity. Sim cards bought at the local kiosk every once in a while.

All of that is a bit old fashioned. Although you can certainly still buy disposable sim cards at your local kiosk or supermarket. There are now also apps with which you can make virtual burner sim cards with their own burner phone number. Yes, even in this case, there’s an app for that.

But what are burner phones exactly? And why would or should you use one? Find out all you need to know in the guide below. Whether you’re just curious. Or looking to compare the best apps to get a burner phone number.


Why do you need a burner phone number?

So what is a burner phone exactly? Basically it’s a phone with only the most basic features. No apps or online browsing. This essentially means that it’s not connected to our many accounts. Accounts that can be used to track our behaviour in various ways for marketing purposes.

A burner phone number is the number associated with a burner phone. It’s usually connected to a burner sim that you can buy at your local kiosk. Taken together, a burner phone and it’s sim offer a lot of privacy at the cost of many of the features smart phones have. If you’re looking to find out more about what burner phones are and how they differ from other phones, check out this guide.


What is a virtual burner phone?

So do you still need to go around the corner to a local store and physically buy a burner phone? No. Like we’ve said above that is a thing of the past. These days there is an app for that.

Burner phone apps offer a virtual burner phone number. All from your own smartphone. They usually do this by connecting to your burner phone number not by a normal phone connection, but through Wi-Fi. This means the calls are not connected to your phone carrier. That way you can call and text in relative anonymity and privacy by protecting your main phone number. We’ll discuss some of the best burner phone apps (both free and paid) further below.


Why do you need a burner phone number?

Burner phones get a bad reputation because of how they’re represented in television and movies. But there are plenty of good reasons to use one.

Most people use a burner phone number for the privacy and anonymity it offers. For instance, it can be important for journalists or dissidents to protect their primary phone number and their identity linked to that phone number. Not all examples have to be so dramatic however. You might want to sign up to a service, but avoid unsolicited marketing calls. Give them your burner phone number and they’ll never reach you unless you want them too. Using a burner phone number when dating also means you can keep creepy dates and would-be stalkers at bay since they don’t have your real number or know who you really are.

Privacy might be the biggest reason why people use burner phones, but it’s absolutely not the only one. They also offer a relatively cheap way to call from abroad. The sim card in your phone is connected to a provider in one specific country. If you’re travelling a lot that means you might rack up extra costs for calling from abroad. Having multiple burner sims, one for each country you visit often, means you can skip those extra costs.

The last reason why people use burner phones is that they are cheap. Hikers use them for instance. If the burner phone gets lost or is stolen it can be easily replaced without costing you an arm and a leg.


Ways to get a (free) burner phone number

What’s the best way to get a burner phone number? It depends on what you want to use it for. The two main ways of getting a burner phone number are buying a physical burner phone or using a burner phone app. Which one should you use? Let’s find out!

Physical vs virtual burner phone number: which is right for you

Virtual burner phone numbers are great when your main use is protecting your primary phone number. The greatest advantage of using an app is that you don’t even need a burner phone to use a burner phone number. You can use it straight on your smartphone. When you get a call on your burner phone number it gets routed through the app to your personal phone. When you switch to a new burner phone number, or stop using the app, those who have that number won’t be able to reach you anymore.

This can also be the greatest disadvantage if you’re using a burner phone to prevent high costs. Not all burner apps can be used abroad for instance. But even more critically, you’re still using a smartphone. If you’re hiking and your phone gets stolen, you still have to replace an expensive smartphone. If you’re using a physical burner phone it’s cheap to replace.


Best burner phone number apps (paid and free)

So what are the best apps to get a burner phone number with? Below will discuss our three picks, both paid and free.

  • Burner – Best Overall

Burner works by taking incoming calls to your burner phone number in the app and sending them to your phone. That way you keep your primary phone number anonymous while using your normal phone. It also offers integrations with a couple of note taking apps, like Dropbox, Evernote and Soundcloud so you can archive text messages and phone calls.

The biggest drawback of Burner is it’s cost. It costs $4.99 to use per month and all calls are counted against your current phone plan, making international calls expensive. You can find out more about burner and their future plans in this Inverse article.

  • Hushed – Best for travellers

Hushed works in a very similar way to Burner, but it offers a burner phone number in 40 countries. Great for when you’re travelling. Hushed also keeps the phone calls from your burner phone number away from your real number and your phone carrier. You can get a number of new phone numbers and manage those in the app.

The basic version of Hushed is also less expensive than Burner, at $1.99 a month. If you want to use those international phone numbers, however, you need to activate the 30-day worldwide package which of course costs more.

  • 2ndLine – Best Free App

2ndLine is one of the few free burner phone apps currently available. It offers an ad-supported free burner phone number. You can use it to call locally and it also offers affordable rates for international calls and texts.

Its biggest drawback is that it’s currently only available in the US and Canada and only on Android.

Can’t find the perfect burner phone app among these three? You can find even more burner phone apps in this guide.


Things to keep in mind before you get a burner phone number

So you’ve picked what kind of burner phone you want. You got your burner phone number and now you’re ready to go! What else should you keep in mind?

A Burner phone doesn’t guarantee anonymity

If you’re going to use a burner phone for the extra privacy it offers it’s good to know that no phone can ever promise complete anonymity. When you’re just using your burner phone to evade telemarketers or dodgy dates, that doesn’t really matter. But burner phones can still be tracked and can still be linked to your identity. You can find out more about the safety and anonymity of burner phones here.


Where to get call credit for your burner phone

If you’ve got a physical burner phone, you’re going to need call credit for it. It used to be the case that you had to buy that physically too. But that’s no longer the case. In this day and age buying call credit online is fast, safe and simple right here on Recharge.com. Simply go to our call credit page and select your provider. Enter your email address and pay with your favourite payment method. Your code will arrive in 30 seconds in your inbox. Ready for you to top up your burner sim.

You can do this from abroad too. Handy for if you’re travelling. You can preload your sim with call credit before you enter a new country.

Written by

Kristina Kalpaklieva