Did you know you can make money from premium phone numbers (those are the 0870, 0871 prefixes and numbers like that)?
If you’ve got expert knowledge in something or you’re just very good at listening, it could be a way for you to make serious cash.
In fact, you can even use them to make money from pesky cold callers!
Here’s all you need to know about this money making opportunity below.
- What are premium phone lines?
- Types of premium rate numbers
- How can you make money from premium phone lines?
- What services can you offer?
- How to set up a premium phone line
- Case study – Lee Beaumont
- So is it really worth all that hassle?
Premium rate numbers are numbers that charge extra to the person who made the call through their monthly phone bill or through credit on their mobile phone.
The costs tend to be more than for a normal phone call or text message.
In 2009 the premium rate industry in the UK was estimated to be worth around £800 million – however strict regulation has been put into place over the last couple of years to try to weed out the cowboys.
Premium rate numbers generally begin with 09, 118, 0871, 0872 and 0873.
To help you get a better understanding of premium phone lines see PhonepayPlus’s guide.
- Short text message numbers – Mobile text shortcode numbers are five or six-digits long and usually begin with 5, 6, 7 or 8. These numbers are often used to pay for new features in apps, to donate to charity, to enter competitions and to download games and ringtones.
- 118 – Directory enquiries – Numbers beginning with 118 are used for directory enquiries services. Most calls include a charge to connect (can be between 50p and £4) and then a charge for every minute you use the line (can be up to £5 per minute).
- 0871, 0872 or 0873 – These numbers are normally used for customer service lines, such as technical support lines, chat lines, tarot/horoscope lines and sales/booking lines. Typically they cost between 11p and 15p per minute from a BT landline and between 20p and 41p per minute from mobiles.
- 070 numbers – Numbers beginning with 070 may look like mobile numbers but they are different and can be more expensive. They are used to divert calls to another phone number. Small businesses and sole traders often used these to avoid giving out their personal phone number.
- 09 numbers – These numbers are mainly used for competitions, TV voting, horoscopes, chat lines, adult lines and professional service lines. They cost between 9p and £1.69 per minute from a BT landline (other landlines up to £2.60 per minute) or between 50p and £2.50 per minute from mobiles. For more information about the cost of premium rate numbers visit Gov.uk.
In the past, premium numbers were used by marketing companies running competitions as a way to generate revenue and to pay for the ‘prize’ (often for a phone-based competition), while businesses saw them as a way to increase their margins by charging customers to call.
The common misconception is that premium rate telephone numbers are reserved for sales lines and big companies, but this isn’t the case.
Anyone can set up a non-geographic telephone number – and that means you can too!
So how do you make money?
When a caller calls your number the charge of the call is added to their telephone bill.
These charges are then shared between the network operator (typically BT) and the service provider – you.
You as the owner of the number get a revenue share for operating the line. You earn money on every incoming call to your number and you get more the longer they are on the line.
To make money you can offer a service which people can pay to use, or you can can just use them to get your own back on cold callers and make them pay to call you – take a look at our interview with Lee Beaumont below to find out exactly how to do this.
How much does it cost?
This will depend on the service you choose but initial set up costs for a single telephone number can be quite low, it’s reported that Lee Beaumont paid £10 + VAT to set up his 0871 telephone number.
Besides just getting revenge on cold callers, you can use your premium number to offer a service.
There are many types of premium rate services that you could run to make a profit.
The types of services available include:
- Specialist helplines, such as customer helplines, directory enquiries or technical support lines
- Computer support – either help when someone’s computer goes wrong or actual training in different types of computers or types of software
- Language training – if you are fluent in a foreign language, or trained in English as a Foreign Language, you could give classes over the phone at the premium rate.
- Support and help for people with specific medical or psychological issues, or for parents of children with specific issues.Sporting tips, gardening tips, celebrity news, anything that you have an inside knowledge of that others really want/need to know.
- Recorded information lines or text alerts, such as news, sports or traffic updates and horoscopes
- Virtual chat services you sign up to
- Mobile ringtones, videos, images and games downloads
- Voting or competitions by phone, text or through the red button on your TV remote
- Adult entertainment content on your mobile, computer or TV
If you want to set up a premium rate service in the UK, there are five steps you need to follow.
1. Read the Code of Practice and guidance guide from PhonepayPlus
PhonepayPlus regulates premium rate (or phone-paid) services in the UK. The Code of Practice sets out the rules for the premium rate industry, such as clear and accurate pricing.
2. Check if you need permission to set up a service
You may need to get their permission to set up some services, where consumers need extra protection – it’s better to check before wasting your time.
3. Check the background of those you connect with
You must check the background of premium rate organisations that you intend to connect with and ensure consumers are not put at risk.
4. Register with PhonepayPlus
Before providing any services, you need to register with PhonepayPlus.
5. Submit your premium rate service and numbers
After you’ve registered, you must submit details of your premium rate service and numbers online within 2 working days of them being active.
Sounds simple, but it really is not!
It will take time and some effort so if you’re looking for a quick buck this probably isn’t the money maker for you.
However, if you are willing to put in a little effort at the beginning to set everything up and do you research, you can actually make big rewards for very little effort in the future.
For more information visit www.phonepayplus.org.uk.
In 2011 Lee Beaumont from Leeds decided to take revenge against cold callers.
After being annoyingly targeted by marketing companies with premium rate numbers he decided to make money from cold calls with his own higher-rate phone number.
We rang him up (on his mobile!) to find out how he did it. Here’s how it went…
Moneymagpie: Why did you set up a premium rate phone line?
Lee: Back in 2011 I used to work as a night manager at Tesco and I would use my evening catching-up on some TV before work. As I would sit down to relax I would always get cold-called about PVC windows, PPI claims and other services that I didn’t want, need or even sign up for.
As cold call companies sometimes just make up 01 & 02 numbers to call I thought, if I got a 08 they would stop. So I ended up buying a 0844 and 0871 number. I phoned Plusnet & changed my Leeds 0113 number, phoned-up Leeds Council Tax, Yorkshire Water, NPower etc and removed my 0113 and gave them all my 0871.
Then over the next few days & weeks when they sold on my data to “trusted third parties” I started getting cold calls on my 0871, so in-fact they started to make me money.
Moneymagpie: How much money can you potentially make?
Lee: The best thing is not to look at it as “How much money can I make?” as Phonepayplus (regulator) advise – you can not use 08 numbers just to make money.
But saying that, BBC2’s Jeremy Vine worked it out that per hour you can make around the National Minimum Wage (£6.50)….and that’s working from home!
If you want to listen to Lee’s interview with Jeremy Vine go here.
Moneymagpie: In your opinion how easy is it to make money from premium phone lines?
Lee: Very easy. As long as you give the 08 number to all the companies you deal with and never give them your normal landline number.Then each time they sell on our data the 08 numbers gets used more and more.
There are also other things you can do.
- Every 5-6 months I use all the price comparison website, give them all my 0871, as they are known for selling on data.
- Also, each time I use a company’s website and see something like “Call Me Back” I pop my number in there too.
Moneymagpie: What are the problems you’ve faced if any?
Lee: I did have a problem with nPower at first, as they refused to update my 0113 to 0871. I told them “Fine, email me instead if you need to talk to me”, but as they didn’t have my new 0113 they had no choice but to use the 0871 if they wanted to call me.
As for the regulator side of things, they looked into me when my story first came out and as I am doing nothing wrong they can’t do anything. Normal consumers do not call me (I would never, ever make a normal person call my 0871, that’s cruel). I only make big companies & cold-callers use it.
PhonePayPlus, which regulates premium numbers, has openly said in the past that it strongly discouraged people from adopting the idea of making money through premium phone lines.
Premium rate numbers are not designed to be used in this way and you will be liable under their code for any breaches and subsequent fines that result.
- You can make money for essentially very little or no effort at all
- Anyone can set up a non-geographic telephone number
- No matter how good the idea for a Premium Rate line, it will not earn you an income if nobody knows it is there. Once set up you will have to let people know about your number with some promotion.
- Unless you’re inundated by sales calls every day you’re not going to get rich using a premium rate number.
- There are now fewer ways to generate revenue from telephone calls
- You have to abide by the PhonepayPlus code of practice.
- If the regulator finds you’ve failed to follow their guidelines you could be forced to refund the cost of calls and be banned from using the service. Worst still, you could face fines of up to £250,000!
It doesn’t sound completely straightforward and there are some rules and regulations that you need to follow.
However if you’re upfront about the cost of your services, you always notify the caller when sharing your number that there will be a charge and make sure to stick to using the telephone number for direct enquiries only then this may be a potential money maker for you.
Have you ever set up a premium phone number? Perhaps now you’re tempted to give it a go? Share your story with the rest of the Moneymagpies below.