How to call premium rate phone numbers for next to nothing
Don’t get stung by premium rate service numbers: here’s how to dial down your calling costs. The only thing special about so-called special numbers (or ‘service numbers’) is the hidden charges they can whack you with.
Despite rules about when companies can use 0845 or 0870 numbers, you’ll still find them floating around – but as they’re usually not included in contract minutes, they can quickly ramp up your costs on the sly. Because they’re not classed as standard landline numbers (unlike 01, 02 or 03 calls), they could leave you shelling out up to 60p a minute for dialling them.
Luckily, these troublesome digits can be beaten, so we’ve put together the ultimate guide on how to punch them in the face and come out smiling.
What’s on this page?
The numbers to look out for
The most commonly used 08 numbers that have a high charge are: 0843, 0844, 0845, 0870, 0871, 0872 and 0873.
Virgin Trains and National Express are two big names that should know better: they still use pricey 0871 numbers for new ticket sales. Swerve the cost by booking online or using one of our fixes. Know of any others? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them here.
What about 0800 numbers?
0800 and 0808 numbers are now free to call from mobiles as well as landlines – they won’t appear on your bill, and shouldn’t come out of your inclusive allowance either.
If you can’t find a free number, look for an alternative starting with 01, 02 or 03: it’ll cost you less (or nothing, if you’ve got a call allowance).
How much do 08 calls cost?
How much you’re charged depends on who you’re with and who you’re calling.
The cost is made up of an access charge (what your provider charges to connect you) and a service charge. The company you’re calling sets the service charge, but you can expect to pay:
- up to 7p per minute for numbers starting 084
- up to 13p per minute for those starting 087
The company you’re calling should tell you the service charge when you phone (“Calls cost 20p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge”), but you can also get an idea from the ukcalling website.
Separating the cost like this is meant to make it easier to know how much your call’s going to cost. Unfortunately, you’ll need to know both charges and add them together yourself to find out! So, you’ll also need to know your phone provider’s access charge – read on.
If you’ve got a calling plan, check if it includes 08 service numbers – you may already be able to call them for nothing. If you don’t have a calling plan, or you’ve busted your allowance, BT and Virgin both charge just over 10p a minute on top of the service charge. PlusNet are slightly cheaper at 9.58p per minute.
That means if you call an 0870 number for ten minutes, it could cost you up to £2.30.
On mobile phones
Access charges are far more expensive on mobiles. EE adds on 44p a minute, while over at Three, it’s between 25p-45p per minute. Asda mobile is much more pocket-friendly, at just 8p per minute.
Call that 0870 number from your mobile on one of the heftier tariffs, and you could pay twice as much as calling from your home phone – up to £5.80.
If you can’t avoid nasty numbers altogether, it may be cheaper to call from a landline or buy a bolt-on call allowance to cover the cost – but you may be able to ditch the cost entirely by following our tips below.
How can you call 08 numbers for free?
If you need customer service or a helpline, the company should already have a standard or free number you can call – check their website first. That way, you can use any contract minutes you’ve got to call for free.
This site couldn’t be simpler: just enter either the 08 number or the business name to reveal a lower cost alternative.
There are a number of apps that do the same job when you’re out and about. The iTunes version will cost you 79p but you can pick up Android versions in the Google Play market for free.
Saynoto0870.com also has an option on the home page for you to add any free or cheap numbers you’ve found – active participation and contribution from users allows the site to become more comprehensive and detailed.
Disclaimer: saynoto8070 is an open source website so some of the numbers may be dud ones or, even worse, posted by scammers. Just make sure you check the comments before calling and stay safe.
If you’re looking to put in the minimum effort possible for your calls, it’s also well worth downloading WeQ4U.
This handy little app not only gives you a cheaper number to call, but saves you waiting around on hold by giving you a call back once you’re connected to a real person.
You can grab the app for free both on the iTunes store and for Android, but if you don’t have a smartphone you can also use it from a landline. The best thing is that, while you’ll only pay for a standard rate call, you won’t be charged while you’re queuing (which you would if you dialled direct). That’s one way to stretch your call allowance even further!
Whatever you do when making calls, make sure you don’t end up paying over the odds! If you’ve got any handy tips or services we’ve missed out then make sure to let us know in the comments!
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