We’ve all seen criminal types using burner phones on shows like The Wire and Breaking Bad. And most of us have secretly wanted to throw a phone away or break it in half at the end of a conversation.
Unless you have reason to believe the NSA or FBI is interested in you, it’s probably not something you need. However, there are all sorts of non-criminal reasons to have a second phone number. While you may want to get a physical burner phone for emergencies, you could also just get a burner app on your existing phone.
Why Use a Burner App?
In case you’re not sure why you’d want a burner phone app:
- Online dating is more popular than ever, but it does carry certain risks, particularly for women. Using a temporary number provides a valuable extra layer of privacy.
- When buying or selling something on Craigslist, or placing an ad anywhere, a disposable number means you don’t have to deal with calls once your business is done.
- If you’re job hunting, you may be expecting a lot of calls from unknown numbers. It’s good to know that these are related to your job search before you answer.
- Perhaps you’re moving to a different area, or even a different country. In such cases, you might want to pick up a local number before you move.
- If your job requires you to be on call or you run your own business, you’ll want a dedicated number that you know to answer professionally and can ignore when you’re off the clock, without having to carry two phones.
- If someone is monitoring your calls and texts (like an abusive parent or partner), you can reach out for help using a number they don’t have access to.
Whatever the reason you need a second number, there are plenty of burner apps that can help. Here are some of the best burner phone apps.
Burner certainly has the best name, and it’s one of the best and most straightforward fake number apps available—as long as you live in the US or Canada.
It provides a real phone number (not a VoIP number like Google Voice) with a local area code that you can use for calls, text messages, and voicemail. The app gives you control over who can call you, and when you’re done with a number, you can just burn it at the press of a button.
You can connect Burner to apps like Dropbox, Evernote, Slack, and SoundCloud to share or store items. In addition, this app might appeal to online daters thanks to its GhostBot feature. This can can give automatic non-committal replies to certain contacts.
Burner gives you a seven-day trial with 20 minutes of talk time and 40 text messages. After that, you can pay for what you need or sign up for a premium subscription that gives you a permanent number with unlimited usage.
Hushed is much like Burner, but it has numbers for 40 countries and works from many more.
Unlike Burner, it uses VoIP. Thus it won’t eat into your minutes, but it will use your data allowance if you’re not on a Wi-Fi connection. If needed, you can set it up to route calls through your own carrier.
It’s free to use for three days, but only with American numbers. After that, it costs $5 per month for one number with unlimited calls and texts within North America. There are a variety of other payment options depending on your needs.
Numbers from countries other than the US and Canada are charged at different rates (from $3 to $13 per month); calls and texts are extra.
CoverMe puts an emphasis on privacy. As well as hiding your number, it allows you to make what it calls “military-grade encrypted phone calls” and store sensitive documents in its “impenetrable” private vault.
Many of its features, such as encryption of calls and texts and self-destructing messages, will only work if the other party also has the app. However, the app can still be useful for anyone wanting an extra layer of privacy. It has phone numbers from the US, Canada, UK, China, and Mexico.
The app is free to download. If you want to add regular minutes to your plan, you need to subscribe.
Line2 is a business-oriented app that offers a second number on your existing phone and a host of other features such as conference calls, auto-attendant, and even toll-free numbers. You can add multiple lines for different departments as your business grows. It’s also suitable for individuals who want to keep their work and personal numbers separate.
It works as a temporary number, but is really geared towards professionals who want a permanent second number. Line2 has a desktop app so you can make calls and send texts from a Mac or PC as well.
There’s a seven-day free trial, after which you need to subscribe.
Sideline’s big selling point is that it’s free. The basic app is ad-supported but still allows unlimited text messages and porting numbers to and from other services. You can choose to use your own carrier or Wi-Fi for calls. It’s a great fake number app.
A subscription of $3 per month will remove the ads. It has additional premium features such as international calling and team accounts that you can buy with in-app purchases.
These Burner Apps Get the Job Done
All the apps in this list will give you a second number, but they’re each tweaked for a slightly different market. Which you use is largely up to personal preference.