If your phone bills are eating away at your monthly budget, it’s time to get them under control.
With our top ten tips you can save on your phone bills and even get calls for free.
Want to know how to save big on those bills? Read on.
There are loads of great deals to be had, and if you haven’t switched phone company in the last 12 months, chances are there’s someone out there charging less than your current provider.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that BT is the only option – their basic line rental is £14.55 a month and that’s if you pay by direct debt and do online billing.
Getting a new phone can be very expensive but there are a few things you can do to keep your costs low.
- Do your research. Use comparison sites to shop around and help you find the best deal for you. See if you could save money by switching your provider with our free comparison service.
- Only pay for what you need. Find a deal that matches your needs.
- Haggle with your current supplier. If your contract is ending, they’ll be desperate to keep you and might offer you some cheap deals.
Override providers are specialist phone providers that you access by dialling a code before the number you are calling. The calls made with them are mostly charged straight to your credit or debit card. You must already have a phone line to use them, but they work on all providers.
They charge an initial connection charge but then calls are generally a lot cheaper than with BT or other suppliers. The best one for UK landlines is 1899. You’ll pay a 4p connection charge and then the calls are free. For calling mobiles during the day the cheapest service is 18185 which is 6p/min plus a 5p connection charge.
These companies also offer ridiculously cheap international calls and are well worth using if you phone abroad a lot. You can sign up to all these services at the same time to get the best price for whatever call you’re making.
3. Pay-as-you-go or pay monthly?
With mobile phones you either pay for exactly what you use in minutes, texts and data – pay-as-you-go – or a set fee that includes a range of services – pay monthly.
The best option for you depends on how much you use your phone and what you use it for. On a pay-as-you-go tariff, you pay for every call, text or chunk of data you use. If you rarely use your phone, this is probably the cheaper option.
If you’re looking for a pay-as-you-go deal GiffGaff lets you have a sim without committing to a long term contract and you can just buy a cheap handset off ebay. There are monthly packages you can take advantage of and it means you won’t end up paying more than you need too.
However, if you use your phone more regularly, it may work out cheaper to pay a monthly fee, which includes a certain number of call minutes, texts and data.
Most providers will offer a discount to customers paying by direct debit and to those that opt to pay up-front for the year ahead.
Call your provider and ask what reductions they could offer you if you changed the way you pay. Also opting for electronic rather than paper bills could make you further savings.
If you’ve got broadband you can phone on the internet for free using something called ‘voice over internet protocol’. Sounds complicated, but it’s not – all you need is the right piece of free software.
Skype can be downloaded for free and once you’ve registered you can get started. Find the username of the person you want to call and then click the green phone. You’ll need earphones and a microphone but these can be bought for less than £10.
Skype also allows you to phone landlines from your computer, however it’s not the cheapest. The best on the market are VoIP Stunt and VoIP Cheap. Both offer free international calls and have no sign up fee, but you do have to put £10 credit on your account before you can use it.
This credit expires 120 days after your last paying call which means you are forced to use it up to keep your free calls. These sites are great to use if you’re abroad and want to make cheap calls home. However lots of override providers can offer equally competitive deals that don’t rely on your internet connection.
For small businesses Vonage is a good option. Vonage uses your broadband connection to make calls from mobiles, home phones, laptops etc. It allows you to choose your are code so, if you want to look more professional, you can choose a London area code. Vonage offers different packages (which you pay monthly) and on some packages lets you make international calls for free.
Say no to 0870 and 0845
0870 numbers can be up to 10 times the cost of a normal landline call and are rarely included in free minutes packages. The companies who use 0870 numbers take a cut of the profits made by the line so they are squeezing even more out of you.
We can’t count the number of times we’ve been asked “what is the cost of 0844 numbers?” Luckily, there’s a brilliant website – saynoto0870 – which has a search engine that finds alternative and often free numbers for the company you’re trying to call. Simply enter the number and the name of the company and you’ll be given a load of alternatives to call.
However, BT customers can call 0870 and 0845 numbers for free, depending on their calling plans. Subscribers to the Unlimited Weekend Plan get free calls at the weekend; users of the Unlimited Evening and Weekend Plan call for free at weekends and evenings; and Unlimited Anytime Plan consumers ring for free all the time.
Don’t use 118 numbers
We’ve all got the internet or just a phonebook, so there’s no excuse to waste money on phoning directory enquiries. If you do need to find a number, make sure you do so online for free from Yell.com, 192.com, thephonebook, 118.com or Uphonebook.
RebTel is a service that lets you make cheap international calls from your mobile. No need for a computer. It works in two ways:
Direct call – to call someone directly, first you send their number to Rebtel who then generate a unique local number for them. You then simply call that number, they connect you over the internet, and pass all the savings on to you.
Smart call – to set up a smart call, you dial someone on their RebTel number. You then ask them to phone you back on the number that has appeared on their phone. They hang up to phone you back, but you stay on the line. In a few seconds they will click back onto the line and your call will be free. You can only smart call between certain countries.
The rates start from less than a penny. When calling with RebTel you do still have to pay your main provider (o2, Orange etc) for the minutes you use. However they will only be charged at local rate.
RebTel really is good if you have a big free minutes bundle from your mobile provider and you have lots of friends abroad.
If you’re taking your mobile abroad an international SIM card from a site like Go SIM is a great way to save. There are various packs available starting from just £10 that let you call the UK cheaply and receive calls for free.
You don’t have to rack up huge bills on your mobile to send texts. There are loads of sites online where you can send texts for absolutely nothing.
Textmefree has over 200 sites where you can send texts for free. The site explains exactly what you need to do to get free texts on each different website it features.
If you do need to need your mobile then you can try Whatsapp – free messaging and free phone calls. You need to have the app and so does the person you wish to contact, as well as an internet connection, but if you’ve got that you can make unlimited calls and send unlimited texts – even abroad!
Also don’t forget that mobile phone apps such as FaceTime also allow you to make free calls providing you’re connected to wi-fi.
Lots of companies make millions out of the lethargy of their customers. If you don’t look at your bills you could be paying for calls that you haven’t made. All companies are liable to make billing mistakes that are often just admin errors. However if you don’t look at your bills, you’ll never even notice.
Go through your bill carefully, even if it’s online, and check that all the numbers called look familiar. If there are any big charges make sure you know what they are and why they were called. If you have any queries, get in touch with your provider before you pay the bill – it’s a lot easier to do this than to get your money back once you’ve paid it.
Your old mobile can save your money on the phone calls you’re making now. Instead of chucking your old mobile in the bin, you can recycle it online and get up to £100 for it. Simply type in the make and model number of your phone, and our comparison service will tell you which company will give you the most cash for it.
The company will send you everything you need to post it to them so it won’t cost a thing – all you need to do is wait for your cheque!