Instead of hunting down a fax machine the next time you need to send or receive a fax, consider an online fax service, such as RingCentral Fax. This service is an excellent, if pricey, choice if you’re in the market for a vanity fax number or plan on doing a lot of faxing each month. We also like its clean interface. However, RingCentral does not support international numbers and its fax quality disappoints. For the online fax category, Fax.Plus and HelloFax are our Editors’ Choice picks.
RingCentral Fax Pricing
RingCentral Fax offers two pricing tiers for fax services. The Fax 1500 plan costs $22.99 per month, which is very expensive. This plan lets you send or receive up to 1,500 pages per month. The per-page overage fee at this tier is 4.9 cents. Previously, Ring Central offered a more economical $14.99-per-month plan that allowed you to send or receive up to 750 fax pages.
The Fax+Phone+Video (Office) plan costs $49.99 per person per month, but this plan includes corporate-friendly features (such as administration of multiple users, VoIP, and team messaging) that most individuals don’t need. There are no limitations on sent or received faxes at this range though.
You can save money by paying annually for these plans. The annual Fax 1500 plan effectively costs $17.99 per month, while the annual Office plan runs the equivalent of $34.99 per person per month. Add-ons for additional fax numbers ($4.99 per month) and toll-free or vanity numbers (each a one-time fee of $30) are also available.
RingCentral’s base plan is now more expensive than all other fax services we tested, including eFax, which costs $16.99 a month in addition to its $10 one-time setup fee. That said, for the money, a pool of 1,500 pages is far more than any other entry-level fax service tier, setting RingCentral Fax among the best in per-page value. Nextiva vFax and MetroFax are also a good value, respectively charging $8.95 and $7.95 per month for 500 combined pages. Fax.Plus is the cheapest service we reviewed (in absolute terms), it only costs $5.99 per month for 100 combined pages.
If you want to send a fax to a location outside the US, Ring Central Fax will charge you an extra fee per page. So, for example, sending a fax to Ireland will cost you 3.9 cents per page. HelloFax and Fax.Plus use a system in which a number of extra pages are deducted from your totals depending on the fax destination. We prefer this pricing structure, since it means you don’t need to pay more money on top of your monthly subscription for international faxes.
If you are looking to send faxes for free, HelloFax and mFax are good options, though your pool of free faxes to send does not replenish. In other words, once you reach your allocation of sent faxes, you need to start paying. FaxZero is a completely free solution; it is barebones, but the fax limit resets daily. RingCentral Fax offers one of the stingiest free trials; you need to enter a credit card to get access and it only lasts for seven days. Most other services offer 30-day trials.
Getting Started and Features
The RingCentral Fax sign-up process requires more information than any other fax service we tested. Along the way, you need to add your credit card information and a valid phone number. RingCentral uses your phone number to send a verification code.
Despite its length, the process is mostly painless and the service feels rock-solid, even from this early stage. We’re also pleased that RingCentral Fax clearly takes password security seriously, unlike services that send you a short access code in plain text via email. With RingCentral, you not only need to verify your account with an automated code, but also create a PIN and set up a password afterward. Unfortunately, RingCentral Fax does not include any two-factor authentication options.
For each plan, you can choose between a local, toll-free, or vanity (that is, a number you choose yourself) fax number. Local and toll-free numbers do not cost extra, but there is a one-time, $30 fee for activating a vanity number. You can also port an existing number to RingCentral Fax, but you must contact support to do so. Note that RingCentral Fax doesn’t provide fax numbers outside the US, which is something that eFax and MyFax, both offer.
We like that RingCentral publishes mobile and desktop apps for its faxing services and discuss those in more detail later. Other fax services, including Biscom 1-2-3, Fax.Plus, and MetroFax, also offer apps, but not all do. We much prefer services with mobile apps as they make on-the-go faxing possible.
A big point in RingCentral’s favor is its integration with RingCentral’s other business services for calls, meetings, and business messaging. You’ll have to upgrade to RingCentral Professional to get all those features, though.
Hands On With RingCentral Fax
RingCentral Fax’s interface is modern, with a clean and easy-to-use layout. It rivals HelloFax and mFax in this regard. Other services, such as Send2Fax and MetroFax look like old webmail homepages, which doesn’t inspire confidence.
However, it’s clear that the RingCentral web interface isn’t solely intended for faxing. Instead, it appears to be the regular RingCentral dashboard with fax features shoehorned in. For example, the Overview tab, where you start each time you log in, shows inbound and outbound calls—not faxes. The Messages tab does show the faxes you’ve sent and received, but you have to download the files manually to see them. RingCentral Fax also features a Call Log section, which replicates much of what’s in the Sent Faxes area.
Rounding out the features are a contact book, which works fine for managing your fax recipients, and a settings page, which includes options that don’t even apply to faxing, such as for Caller ID and Blocked Calls. You can, however, configure the information that appears on the fax cover page, and change notification preferences. By default, RingCentral Fax sends you an email with your received fax attached as a PDF, but you can also opt to receive SMS alerts when you receive a fax.
Yet another sign that the RingCentral Fax interface isn’t just for faxing is that that button to send faxes is tucked in the upper-right corner. It’s not labeled and is easy to overlook. Click it and you can enter your recipients, select and write a cover page, and attach a file (up to 200 pages or 20Mb total). RingCentral Fax supports just about every file format you can imagine. We are disappointed that RingCentral doesn’t support drag-and-drop file attachments or show document previews, but we do appreciate that it lets you connect your Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft Office accounts.
Once you’re ready, hit the Send Now button to send your fax immediately. Alternately, you can click the Enable box under the Schedule heading and set a time for your fax to send out. That’s handy if you issue bills via fax and a feature we haven’t seen on most other services.
Apart from the web portal, RingCentral lets you send faxes via email, as is the case with most of the other fax services we reviewed. Just enter the recipients’ fax number in the format [NUMBER]@rcfax.com and press send. We had no trouble sending and receiving faxes in this manner.
Desktop and Mobile Apps
RingCentral does offer a desktop app for faxing, but you’ll have to hunt for it. The download that it directs you to did not offer any faxing capabilities. The download you want to find is called RingCentral Phone, not the aforementioned RingCentral Desktop app. This distinction is not clear at all and we hope RingCentral addresses this issue. In any case, the RingCentral Phone app is attractive and works well. It offers all of the faxing options as the web interface and includes a contact book. We had no issues sending a fax from this interface.
The RingCentral Phone app on mobile is easier to find, but again, it’s just one of several RingCentral apps available. If you happen to download the main RingCentral App, you will still need to install the RingCentral Phone app in order to send a fax. This is confusing.
RingCentral Phone is available for Android (version 5 and later) and iOS (version 10 and later) and we had no trouble installing the app on a Google Pixel running Android 9. The design and capabilities are exactly the same as the desktop application, save for the Documents hub, which is where you can import documents from email for use with the fax service. Note that the RingCentral allows attachments from other sources as well including Dropbox and Box.
Fax to the Future
PCMag no longer has any fax machines at our office, so we test fax services by sending files between various services. This does raise the question: are these services really going to be valuable tools for much longer? If there are fewer and fewer fax machines (and less copper wire to carry those faxes), then are people really faxing with online fax services, or just sending faxes to other online fax services? We’ll let the markets figure that one out.
See How We Test Online Fax Services
In any case, RingCentral Fax had no problem sending or receiving faxes in our test. To evaluate RingCentral’s faxing quality, we sent a test PDF as a fax to another service and downloaded the attachment from there. Unfortunately, RingCentral Fax’s faxing quality is below average. The test document’s text looked pixelated and the design at the top of the page suffered from significant banding and artifacting. Faxing obviously isn’t the best way to send high-quality images to recipients, but we would like to see an improvement here. RingCentral Fax should be adequate for mundane faxing tasks.
For High-Volume Faxers With Deep Pockets
If you regularly send or receive several hundred faxes over the course of a few weeks, it’s hard to beat RingCentral Fax’s generous allocation of 1,500 pages per month, even if it is pricey. We appreciate that RingCentral Fax offers toll-free and vanity fax numbers too, even if it lacks the ability to use fax numbers outside of the US. RingCentral could also do a better job distinguishing its faxing capabilities from its other services across its many interfaces. Our Editors’ Choice winners are HelloFax and Fax.Plus. HelloFax offers a better user experience and top-notch features, such as digital signatures, while Fax.Plus excels for its cheap monthly price and excellent mobile apps.