Are you looking for a payphone near you? Now that the prevalence of cell phones has eliminated the utility of payphones in many regions, it can be tricky to find a payphone when you need it. While payphones and phone booths used to be on nearly every street of every city, they have all but disappeared! But what if you need to make a call and don't have a phone? We'll show you easy ways to find the closest payphone location near you, and how to find helpful payphone alternatives that can help in a pinch.
Browse Online Directories
A few web-based payphone directories are still somewhat maintained.
These sites are run by individuals, not companies, so locations may not be updated often. Still, checking a payphone directory is a great way to explore some of the last remaining payphones in the United States and across the world.
- Payphone Directory: One of the oldest payphone listings on the web, organized by country, state, and city. Some of the listings may be out of date, but you’ll likely find one or two payphones that are still working in some areas
- Payphone Project: This is a website dedicated to payphone history and preservation. It also includes a mostly-maintained list of payphones in the United States, which you can visit at https://www.payphone-project.com/numbers/usa.
- Waymarking: This site is great for finding information on things near your location, including payphones. Just type “payphone” into the “find waymarks” box, and enter an address or postal code to find nearby payphones reported by other users.
Check Common Payphone Locations
Gas stations and convenience stores.
While many cities no longer have public payphones, some private store owners continue to host private on-site payphones for customers. Though pay phones are disappearing from these locations as well, many still have them.
Airports, bus stations, and train depots.
Public transit centers in many towns still have a pay phone or two at places that cater to travelers. Just keep in mind that since payphones are less common, they aren’t typically maintained.
- The stations of interstate bus companies, especially those of Greyhound, often still have pay phones. Greyhound stations are worth mentioning in particular because, in many larger cities, they are open 24 hours and have several pay phones that are in good repair.
- Major airports, and most smaller ones as well, usually have some pay phones around. Airport managers seem to realize that people traveling often leave certain vital things at home. International travelers are also in need of pay phones if they have not purchased special ones for the country they are traveling to. As a result, airports still have large numbers of pay phones.
Government, community, and medical centers.
Government buildings, such as the county’s courthouse or jail, often have payphones. Every county in the United States has a courthouse or some form of office, and many still offer payphones which are accessible to the community. Because people in courthouses often have important messages that they need to share with family members, there seems to be an understanding that pay phones can provide a needed service. Outside of government locations, you might also want to try these:
- Post offices
- Public libraries
- High schools
- Workforce training centers
Search Google Maps
Search Google Maps for “Payphone near me.”
Searching Google Maps for the nearest payphone will usually produce a location, though there’s no guarantee the phone will be in working order. You can also run this search in the Google search engine, which will display the nearest payphone location in a map right on the page.
- To see payphones in a particular city on a map, just head over to https://maps.google.com and type “payphones in New Orleans” or “payphones in 70118” (or your preferred city/ZIP or postal code) into the search bar.
- Keep in mind that the payphones you find may not be in service. Have a backup plan in case the payphone you want to use is not working or was removed.
- Some existing payphones will not appear in Google Maps, so don’t lose hope.
Keep an eye out for Futel phones in Maps.
If you’re in Portland OR, Detroit MI, Ypsilanti MI, or Long Beach WA, you’ll probably find some Futel phones on the map when you search. Futel is a project that aims to bring pay-style phones back to urban areas. Futel phones look just like payphones but are actually free to use and likely to be in great working order—lucky you!
Pay Phone Alternatives
Payphones aren’t the only way to make calls without a cell phone or home phone.
If you can’t find a payphone,
- LinkNYC: New York City has replaced all public payphones with free phone kiosks that also have Wi-Fi and device charging features. There are almost 2000 LinkNYC locations across all 5 boroughs. Visit https://www.link.nyc to find the nearest kiosk.
- VoIP services: If you don’t have home or cellular phone service but do have access to the internet, you can use services like Google Voice, WhatsApp, and Skype to make free phone calls over the internet. If you have an old phone laying around, you can even revive it by connecting it to Wi-Fi and using it as an internet-based phone.
- Prepaid cell phones: Now that cell phones are everywhere, you can get an incredibly cheap cell phone from just about any store and purchase prepaid minutes instead of signing up for a plan. You’ll even get your own phone number so people can call you back.
- Calling cards: Prepaid calling cards are a great way to use anyone’s phone without worrying about the phone’s owner incurring extra charges. These especially come in handy when making international phone calls.
- Even though all most remaining payphones in the United States are privately owned, the FCC requires all payphone providers to allow free 911 emergency phone calls.
- Ask local people where a pay phone can be found. Because of the increasing scarcity of pay phones, you may have your best luck by simply asking the people who know the area well. For rural areas where the population tends to be older and internet connections are harder to have at home, there will be little information about payphones on any website.