It’s 2024 and mobility is higher than ever. We’re changing homes, jobs, cities and even states. But there’s something most people don’t want to give up on. Their phone numbers.

Those digits somehow became part of your identity and your personal history, they’re showing where you are coming from.

Have you ever wondered what are the most popular area codes in the US and what makes them so popular? In this article, you’ll find everything you wanted to know about area codes.

What are area codes? 

Simply said, the area code consists of those three digits that come before your actual phone number. They’re showing from what region or city your phone number is coming. Today, there are 317 area codes in the U.S. and new ones may come up as you’re reading this article.

Depending on their size, some states have only one area code, while others have multiple. Currently, there are 12 states with a single area code:

  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Maine
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Wyoming

On the other hand, some of the biggest cities in the U.S. have more than one area code. Here are some rules of the North American Numbering Plan that you probably didn’t know:

  • The first digit can be any number between 2 and 9.
  • The second digit can be any number between 0 and 8.
  • The last digit can be any number between 0 and 9.

A piece of history behind area codes

Area codes were introduced in the mid-20th century, long after the first phone was invented. In the beginning, phone calls were facilitated by human operators working at the telephone switchboard. (We’ve all seen it in old movies.)

Phone numbers weren’t the same as today, in fact, they consisted of a combination of letters and numbers. For example, you’d call the operator and ask to connect you with “Murray Hill 5-9975”.

As landline phones became more affordable and people started using them more, there were simply not enough operators and one had to wait before placing a call! The system wasn’t scalable, especially in cities with large populations.

The Bell System company started developing a numeric system in the 1940s. As a result, they came up with the idea of a three-digit area code as we know it today.

The first direct-dial call was placed in 1951 and it started with dialing one of the most prestigious area codes at the time – 415 – the one that is still used in California. The famous phone call was placed from the Mayor of New Jersey to the Mayor of Alameda, CA.

How do modern direct-dial systems work?

Let’s first explain what direct dial phone numbers are. Simply put, the phone number can connect you directly to the person you want to talk to. There’s no need for the operator, front desk receptionist, or secretary to forward the call.

Today, many businesses use direct inward dial numbers (DID numbers). The system is based on extensions assigned to each phone in the office or the company. Usually, all numbers look the same, except for the last digits which are different.

It means that each employee has their own DID number, which makes internal communication easier. If you have someone’s DID number, you can call them directly without using the company’s main number.

DID numbers not only make communication faster, but they can also make you seem more professional in the eyes of your clients or business partners. For example, if you run an e-commerce business, it’s a good idea to have separate phone numbers for inventory, customer support tools, sales, etc.

Area codes – just a number or a part of your personal history?

Today, memorizing your area code isn’t as important as in the past, as you can always check them online. That said, there’s an increasing number of people that have different area codes than one of the regions where they live.

What’s behind this phenomenon?

First, people move from state to state more than ever before, for various reasons, from career to education. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an average American citizen moves 11 times in their lifetime.

An area code is no longer simply functional but has a sentimental component. It is a part of collective identity.

Many people decide to keep their old area code even when they move to a new city or state. They say that it became part of their identity and that they can’t imagine changing their phone number.

Even if you had to move from your hometown to pursue a career, you could still carry something with you.

Let’s say you’ve recently moved to a populous city such as New York City or Los Angeles. You meet someone new, exchange your phone numbers, and realize that you have the same area code. They’re no longer a stranger! You already have so much in common!

Some people go the extra mile and design t-shirts and hoodies with their area code. For example, if you see someone wearing a t-shirt with “802” stamped on it, you can immediately know they’re from Vermont. It’s more than just a phone number – it’s part of their culture, local pride and heritage.

What are the most popular area codes in the US?

Digital dialer

Now, something you’ve been waiting for from the beginning. Let’s see which are the most popular area codes as of 2024:

  • 212 – New York City, NY: This might be one of the most desirable area codes in the US, but we have bad news for you. It’s nearly impossible to get the 212 area code today, as it’s exhausted. The alternative is to go for 917 or 718, codes that cover five boroughs of NYC.
  • 310 – Los Angeles, CA: It’s no wonder that the most populous city in California is on the top of the prestigious area codes. There are many other area codes in California, but 310 is the oldest and the most requested area code, although difficult to obtain.
  • 302 – Delaware: This may come as a surprise, but the Delaware area code is in high demand in 2024. In spite of the state not having a large population (less than a million inhabitants), each year more and more startups choose Delaware as their headquarters, which explains how this area code got so popular.
  • 305 – Miami, FL: Miami is no longer just about social life and tourism, as the city has a booming real estate economy. If you want to position your business there, we suggest opting for a local number.
  • 702 – Las Vegas, NV: If you want your phone number to be vibrant and lively, you can’t go wrong with the 702 area code!
  • 202 – Washington, DC: Many people associate the Washington area code with working for the federal government. So, whether you’re a federal employee or a government intern who wants to seem more professional, 202 is a way to go!
  • 415 – San Francisco, CA: If you’re a tech company or startup, San Francisco Bay Area code can open many doors for you! No wonder many tech giants like Apple, Google and Facebook are located in the silicon valley area.
  • 312 – Chicago, IL: Chicago still has its original area code, which was one of the first area codes assigned in 1947 by Bell System.
  • 626 – Pasadena, CA: Pasadena may not have as large a population as other Californian cities, but here’s the explanation for it. While larger cities have multiple area codes, 626 is used not only for Pasadena but also for all nearby towns and metropolitan area.
  • 949 – Irvine, CA: Did you know that Irvine is one of the fastest-growing US cities as of 2024? This Orange County city is experiencing a tech boom as many startups choose it for their headquarters. No wonder 949 area code recently became an in-demand area code.

Why are these codes so popular?

The reason why some area codes are more popular than others is that we all have some associations linked to a certain area or city.

When we see 212 we immediately think of Big Apple, Manhattan numbers, high-end businesses, and so on.

When we see Silicon Valley or San Francisco’s prestigious area code, we immediately think of big corporations in the tech sphere. Social status and prestige also play an important role in choosing the desired area code.

That’s why many businesses are willing to pay a lot of money to get a prestigious area code. They want to seem professional and well-established and unlike a local small business.

But what if you can’t get the area code you want, for example, 212 New York City? You can opt for a toll-free number that will make your business seem more professional.

Toll-free numbers have their own prefixes, similar to area codes, but no one can tell your location. Toll-free numbers (starting with 0800, 800, 855, 866 area code etc.) are ideal if you have clients

throughout the U.S. and your business is not connected to a physical location.

How can you get the area code that you want?

Until recently, it wasn’t so easy to choose your own area code. You were simply assigned one based on your geographic location.

Today, many carriers allow you to choose the code you want (as long as it’s available) or to keep your old phone number, even if you moved out of the state.

But if you run a company and need to use different area codes, keep reading because we’ll explain how to get them.

How can Ringblaze help you?

Ringblaze dashboard
Ringblaze dashboard

In 2024, one phone number is not enough, especially if you run an online business and have clients worldwide. You need to customize your phone number to build trust with customers.

That’s why we’ve developed a complete solution for your phone customer support and sales teams. Ringblaze is the ideal solution for e-commerce, marketing agencies, real estate firms, and other businesses that deal with customers from different regions.

With Ringblaze, you can easily choose the area code you want to use and create a new phone number in seconds. You can choose any state or city you want, but that’s not all. We also offer Canadian and international phone numbers.

You can also get a toll-free number, or a custom-made vanity number (1-800-DIGITAL, 1-800-REAL ESTATE, etc.)

Final word

If you’re a business owner, you don’t have to limit yourself to only one local number. Just think about what would change in your business life if you could have the same area code as each of your customers.

We can help you get multiple phone numbers in a matter of seconds. Sign up here if you are ready to take your customer experience to the next level.

Most popular area codes: FAQs

How are area codes determined in the US?

Area codes are determined according to the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). NANP divides US territory into smaller regions and areas where each area gets its three-digit code.

There’s no specific order to how area codes are assigned, but NANP made sure that similar codes aren’t next to each other, to avoid confusion.

Why are there so many area codes?

The number of area codes is determined by the size of the population. As the population in some areas grew, all possible combinations were exhausted and there was the need to introduce new area codes for the same territory.

That’s the reason why Los Angeles county has 6 different area codes, as it is the most populous city in the area.

What is the most popular area code in the US?

Two codes share the title of the most popular area code in the US. They are 212 – New York City, NY and 310 – Los Angeles, CA.