Virtual receptionist pricing 101

Reading time:

How much does a virtual receptionist solution cost?

Answering this question can be tricky. Different providers not only charge different rates, but have unique pricing structures, plans, and billing models. On top of that, each solution offers its own mix of features— not all of which may be included in advertised rates. And then there’s the possibility of additional fees, which some providers bury within their fine print.

Let’s break down how pricing works, so you can understand what you’re paying for and avoid hidden fees.

Understanding virtual receptionist rates

Most virtual receptionist providers charge one of two ways: per minute or per call.

Stopwatch icon

Per-minute pricing means you pay for the time receptionists spend assisting your business. There are three typical kinds of per-minute billing structures. 

To understand how they compare, consider the difference in how these structures calculate the cost of a call lasting 1:12 (one minute and 12 seconds):

True to the second

30-second increments

60-second increments

You pay for every second a receptionist spends on a call—no rounding involved.*

Each call is charged in multiples of 30 seconds, rounded up to the nearest increment.

Each call is charged in multiples of 60 seconds (one minute), rounded up to the nearest minute.

Dark blue arrow pointing down
Purple arrow pointing down
Teal arrow pointing down




True to the second

You pay for every second a receptionist spends on a call—no rounding involved.*

Dark blue arrow pointing down


30-second increments​

Each call is charged in multiples of 30 seconds, rounded up to the nearest increment.

Purple arrow pointing down


60-second increments​

Each call is charged in multiples of 60 seconds (one minute), rounded up to the nearest minute.

Teal arrow pointing down


*Look out for extra fees associated with after-call work.

Per-call pricing means you pay a base rate per call. This type of billing structure can be attractive to businesses with callers who need to spend extended time on the phone, but quickly adds up for businesses that receive large volumes of calls with varying lengths.

Yellow and pink circular phone icon

Tip: Be careful with providers that advertise low per-call rates. These rates often conceal long lists of additional fees you’ll be charged based on the services receptionists perform on each call. For instance, you might end up paying more for every call that involves transferring, scheduling, or message-taking.

Avoiding additional and hidden fees

Dollar character within circle icon

Keep in mind many providers charge multiple fees on top of their base per-minute or per-call rates. These providers often market themselves as low-cost “answering services” and saddle customers with separate costs for basic capabilities such as call transfers. Think of an answering service as a motel that charges for every amenity, and a virtual receptionist solution as an all-inclusive hotel.

Additional and hidden fees that many providers charge include, but are not limited to…

> Setup or activation fees for new customers

> Holiday fees, which raise prices for service on holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day

> Service fees, which can cover many different aspects of a receptionist’s work:

  • 24/7 answering
  • Call transfers
  • Multiple transfer destinations
  • Complex call routing
  • Bilingual service
  • Scheduling and conflict checks
  • Lead capture and intake
  • Local and toll-free numbers
  • Voicemail service
  • Porting numbers to/from the provider
  • CRM integrations
  • Mobile app access
  • Caller ID selection for calls and/or texts

How Ruby compares

High-quality providers build these costs into their advertised pricing rather than attempting to mislead customers. At Ruby, we’re committed to transparent pricing. We want you to know exactly what you’re paying for, so you can make informed decisions about your business.

> Straightforward per-minute rates in 30-second increments

> Only charges for the time from when a receptionist answers until a receptionist transfers the call to you or your voicemail, or the call ends (rounded up in 30-second increments)

> No hidden fees—pay only for your base monthly plan rate, any overage minutes, and optional features such as custom hold music and additional phone lines

What you can expect to pay:



One all-inclusive rate

Base rate + setup fees + holiday fees + transfer fees + message-taking fees + service fees + after-call work fees


One all-inclusive rate


Base rate + setup fees + holiday fees + transfer fees + message-taking fees + service fees + after-call work fees

Not sure what virtual receptionist solution is right for your business? Check out our guide and scorecard: 10 questions to ask a virtual receptionist provider.

Additional reads you may find interesting...

View All
Needs-based selling: woman using laptop in well-lit office next to large window.
Small Business Tips

Needs-based selling 101

Closeup image of a business owner texting message from smart phone in cafe
Small Business Tips

Why you should be texting from your business number—and how to get started

Title card: Craig Rashkis, Farwell Rashkis LLP, Ruby customer feature series
Customer Feature

Ruby customer feature: Craig Rashkis, Falwell Rashkis LLP

What you can do to support Hispanic and Latinx-owned businesses

Wall clock nearing 8:00 on pink background

Using virtual receptionists for full-time answering

How to end a phone call: person holding phone
Receptionist Tips

How to end a phone call

Virtual receptionist sitting at desk

Virtual receptionist pricing 101

Professional sitting at desk on computer, working on a law firm's website
Legal Practice Tips

What Google’s Core Web Vitals mean for your law firm’s website

A group of Ruby customers stand together, smiling and talking

Does your business need an answering service?

Screenshot of a YouTube channel's live videos

How to use YouTube Live to engage your clients & audience

Smiling woman standing in a bicycle workshop with a mobile device in her hands
Small Business Tips

3 ways virtual receptionists elevate customer experience (while making your life easier)

Circular cutout of Rebecca Grimes, Ruby's Chief Revenue Officer

A conversation with Ruby’s Chief Revenue Officer, Rebecca Grimes

Woman in yellow sweater working in front of open laptop, sitting in home office interior, drinking coffee
Small Business Tips

Happy customers, efficient businesses: How to supercharge growth with virtual receptionists 

Help wanted sign hung in reflective window
Small Business Tips

Using online presence platforms for recruitment

A man in silhouette looks out over a foggy mountain range
Small Business Tips

How to communicate with employees during times of tension

Try Ruby Risk Free

Call to talk to a live virtual receptionist and hear why 10,000+ companies Ruby.

Call Ruby Sign Up
Sales Support
Phone Thumbnail 2

10 Questions to Ask a Virtual Reception Provider

Ask the right questions and rate virtual reception services with our handy guide and scorecard!

Already a Ruby customer?

Let’s get started.

Ready to turn more callers into customers?

Missed connections translate to lost revenue. With Ruby, you have a partner in gaining and retaining customers. Plus, we’re so confident you’ll love our service, we offer a 21 day money-back guarantee*.

*Ruby is delighted to offer a money-back guarantee to first time users of both our virtual receptionist service and our chat service. To cancel your service and obtain a full refund for the canceled service (less any multi-service discount), please notify us of the service you wish to cancel either within 21 days of your purchase of that service or before your usage exceeds 500 receptionist minutes/50 billable chats, as applicable, whichever occurs sooner. Some restrictions may apply.


The Secret to Successful Law Firms

The inside scoop on Clio’s latest legal trends report.