What Is a Vanity Short Code?

A vanity short code, is a 5-6 digit phone number that is specifically selected by a brand, rather than selected at random by the Short Code Registry. A vanity short code lease will cost $1,000/month, where a non-vanity short code, which is selected by the CSCA at random, will cost $500/month to lease.

It’s very common for newcomers to this industry to confuse the difference between non-vanity short codes and vanity short codes, with shared short codes and dedicated short codes. When starting any mobile messaging campaign, the first thing you’ll need to do is decide between using a dedicated short code, or a shared short code. If you’re not sure about the difference between these two types of short codes, or which one is best for your mobile marketing campaign, click here.

If you’ve decided that a dedicated short code is going to be the best type of short code for your mobile marketing campaign, the next step is to determine if you’ll want a vanity short code, or a non-vanity short code. You won’t need to decide between a vanity or non-vanity short code if you’re using a shared short code, as the owner of that shared short code will have already made this decision for you.

If you’ve decided to use a dedicated short code, and you want to select a vanity short code, you’ll first have to apply to lease a vanity short code. During the short code application process, you’ll be asked to select what short code number you want to use. If you had decided to use a non-vanity short code, this short code number would be randomly selected for you.

Once the short code application has been approved, to start using your new vanity short code number, you’ll need to pay the first $1,000 lease payment, which will cover your first month’s lease amount.

Identifying Vanity Short Codes

The majority of vanity short codes are easy to spot, as they’re good looking combinations of numbers, such as 33033, 711711, 411411, etc. There is however one type of vanity short code that is hard to spot, and those are the vanity short codes that are selected because they spell something on a user’s dialpad. For example, Kmart’s SMS short code 56278, which spells “KMART” on a user’s mobile phone’s dialpad.


Vanity Short Code Advantages

Why would a brand choose a vanity short code over non-vanity short code? Vanity short codes are usually preferred over non-vanity short codes for use in marketing campaigns, because they’re easier for consumers to remember.


An easy to remember short code is critical when you’re asking consumers to text an SMS keyword to your SMS short code. A vanity short code like 727272 (see above RedBox example) will be much easier for consumers to remember, compared to a non-vanity short code like 150842.

That being said, if the short code is being used for non-marketing purposes, for one-way communications like SMS appointment reminders, SMS fraud alerts, or even SMS shipping messages, it’s common that a non-vanity short code will be used. This is because a non-vanity short code is half the monthly cost of a vanity short code at $1,000/month.

An example of Chipotle’s vanity short code 888222 is below.