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What is a Short Code?

A short code is a five- to six-digit mobile number used by businesses to send and receive both SMS and MMS messages – either as part of marketing activity or usual business operations.

They are usually country specific and don’t support international roaming (although there are a couple of exceptions to this, for example the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland).

A short code can ONLY be used for SMS and MMS messages – you can’t make a voice call to a Short Code.

What are the benefits of short codes?

As we’ve mentioned, short codes are most used by businesses when communicating with customers or prospects. Most of the benefits relate to their suitability for this purpose.

  • Scalability! It is much quicker to send messages via a short code – especially if you are sending a large number at the same time. If you are sending a monthly statement alert to all 50,000 of your subscribers, it would be about 50x quicker to do this via a Short Code than via a 10+ digit number.
  • Being short, they are far more memorable than conventional mobile numbers and are easier to use in marketing material and outdoor media.
  • Messages from short numbers are instantly recognizable as being from a business, and can be incorporated into brand identity.

How to get a short code?

Short codes are usually leased for a set length of time i.e. 3 months, 6 months or 12 months at a time. You would need to apply for a short code via your SMS service provider. Infobip can help with this process with a service that covers more than 50 countries globally.

How much do short codes cost?

The exact price depends on the type of short code that you want (Dedicated, Premium, Shared etc.) the country that you will be using it, and the duration that you will need it for. In the US, a randomly allocated short code is the cheapest to lease and usually costs between $400 and $600 a month, but it can cost more than double if you want a specific number (for example, one that spells your business name on a phone keypad).

What are zero rated short codes?

Zero rated short codes are used for 2-way interaction between companies and their customers where the customers do not pay the cost of sending messages to the company, who pick up this cost. The common use case is for opt-out as in many countries regulations require free opt-out.

Zero rated short code are also used to motivate customers to leave feedback. Companies will send messages to end customers requesting service or product ratings and stress that the message is free for the customer.