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10 ways to save on your phone bills

MoneyMagpie team 16th Feb 2020 9 Comments

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Want to know how to save on your phone bills?

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!

1. Change your provider to save on your phone bills

Woman checking her mobile phone bill

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 £21.10 a month as of December 2021 and that’s if you pay by direct debit 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. FasterBroadband.co.uk offer a free phone and broadband comparison service, just enter your postcode to check broadband deals in your area.
  • 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.


2. Use an ‘override provider’ to save money on BT rates

BT Logo

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?

Save on your mobile contracts

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 to.

Another low-cost provider is iD Mobile, operated by Carphone Warehouse. Their pay monthly contracts work on a 30-day rolling basis – essentially the same as GiffGaff’s 30-day pay-as–you-go bundles – and start from just £6 a month. Sign up to your new mobile contract through cashback sites like Quidco to save even more money, too!


4. Change the way you pay

Woman looking at phone bill

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.


5. Phone for free on the internet (VoIP)

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 is free to download 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.

Use WiFi calling on your mobile

Apps like Whatsapp also now let you call people using WiFi – for normal calls AND video chats. If you’re connected to a wireless internet connection, you can make these calls entirely free. It’s a great way to opt for a cheaper phone contract if you tend to make your calls while you’re at home!

6. SAY NO TO 0870 and 0845 AND 118 to save on your phone bills

Say no to 0870

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 at least 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 online.


7. Send free texts to save on your phone bills

Woman texting

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 100 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 those then 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.


8. Always check your bill for any charges that are wrong

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 phone numbers you contacted 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.


9. Recycle your old mobile to save on your phone bills

Mobile smartphone with a recycling symbol on the screen

Your old mobile can save you 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!

10. Look for family deals or broadband bundles

These days, many providers let you share your data between family members. So, if your teenage kids watch loads of YouTube on their phone but you hardly check yoru emails, think about getting a family phone contract.
Broadband and landline providers like Sky also offer mobile SIMs at a reduced price for their customers. It’s worth checking them for bundled offers to see if you could save even more cash!
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4 years ago

You say on 1899. You’ll pay a 4p connection charge and then the calls are free. They are now 2p per minute plus the 4p connection charge. The text should be altered to bring it up todate.

5 years ago

Phoning on the internet is a good idea to save money.

13 years ago

Despite all the money saving advice on the web, nothing seems to get past VirginMedia. smsia.ru

Tom McCarthy
Tom McCarthy
14 years ago

Free texts from your computer can actually be very expensive. I recently sent a ‘free-text’ from my computer to my daughter’s mobile but it would have cost her £3 to receive it if she had not rejected the call.

John Clark
John Clark
14 years ago

I have a Skypephone S2x with a Sim Zero contract with Three which means free Skype forever (until they chop the service) & no monthly fee. The phone synchronises with my Skype contacts list & looks like a real mobile

Tom McCarthy
Tom McCarthy
14 years ago

Whatever cheap ‘phone call over-ride numbers I use on my VirginMedia telephone landline I always get billed the full VirginMedia call rate on my VirginMedia bill, and I know I am correctly using the dial code instructions. Despite all the money saving advice on the web, nothing seems to get past VirginMedia. Anyone out there using a cheap call number that isn’t gobbled up by VirginMedia?

14 years ago

Hi! About using either Easydial or 18185. two very good websites

14 years ago

Make free international calls using u r free bundled minutes from u r mobile, only thing u need to do is register here link://.bestmobilesaver

15 years ago

what about some money saving tips when using virgin media, as phone supplier? use this package for phone, computer and TV as they did such a good deal for me

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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