It's that annoying moment when you need to call a helpline or similar from your mobile phone but you'll be charged extortionate amounts for it. Here's how to call 0845, 0870 and 0800 numbers free from your mobile, and find out which numbers are free from your mobile and the cost of specific premium numbers.
You might have a smartphone plan with unlimited minutes, but that’s unlikely to include premium-rate numbers. If you’re stuck without access to a landline, calling numbers beginning with 0845, 0870 and similar is something to avoid. Many companies use such numbers to offset the cost of tech support, or to simply make more money.
Mobile networks tend to charge excessive amounts for these types of numbers – even more than when calling from a landline.
Since July 2015, Ofcom made sure that all 0800 and 0808 numbers were free on mobile phones, no matter what network you're on. However, there are still a lot of numbers which will cost you a bomb. Below we've outlined what different numbers are for and what they will typically cost.
What numbers are free from mobile?
Call 01, 02, 03 and 030 numbers
The first three in the above list are geographic numbers and will be included in any minutes you have on your mobile tariff. If you're using credit or minutes outside of your allowance, these will cost 3p and 40p per minute depending on your network and plan.
Be aware that when you make these calls from your mobile outside of your inclusive minutes you can be charged up to 45p per minute.
030 numbers are for non-profit organisations, charities and public bodies such as The BBC, the Met Police, the RSPCA, Oxfam and some local councils. These come under the same pricing structure as the geographic numbers above.
Call 07 numbers
As you might already know, 07 numbers are for mobile phones, and cost between 3p and 40p per minute but will usually be included in a tariff's minute allowance. Often you'll get free calls to other users on the same network, too, but making a call outside of your allowance can cost up to 45p per minute.
Call 070 and 076 numbers
While 07 numbers are easily recognisable as mobile numbers, 070 numbers are another kettle of fish. They are a legitimate number and used as a follow me service so calls are diverted from one number to another meaning the person being called can keep their own number private, and remain contactable wherever they go. They are also used by small businesses and sole traders easily manage calls.
However, they are also used a scam where you get a missed call and because it looks like a regular mobile you call it back. What you're actually dialling is a service which costs up to £1.50 per minute. Often the call is dropped or an engaged tone played while you're charged. You might also hear a recorded voice telling you the line is bad, requesting you call a second time.
The bottom line is that if you get a missed call from an 070 or 076 number, do not call it back. You can note down the number and complain to the premium rate regulator PhonepayPlus (0300 30 300 20).
Call 0800 and 0808 numbers
As mentioned above, these are now completely free to call from your mobile so dial away without worrying about your bill.
Call 0843/4, 0845, 0870, 0871/2/3 numbers
The cost of calling 084 and 087 numbers is split up into two costs - these numbers are normally chat lines, technical support, sales lines and other related things.
Firstly there is what's known as a 'service charge' which is set by the organisation you are calling and ranges from 0- and 13p per minute.
You'll also get an 'access charge' which is set by your provider and start at 5p per minute. For example, Giffgaff charges 25p per minute while Three charges 45p
Call 118 directory enquiry numbers
Be very careful if you're thinking about calling a direct enquiry number beginning with 118. These are expensive. They are split into service- and access charges as above so you'll be charged up to 45p per minute on top of whatever the company you're calling charges - a maximum of £7 and/or £3.60 per minute. Most will have a minimum call charge of 60 seconds.
"Calls to 118 118 cost £2.75 per call plus £2.99 per minute, (minimum 60 second charge applies). In addition you will be charged an access charge per minute by the company that bills you for calls." says the 118 118 website so this means a minimum charge of £5.74 if your call is less than one minute.
Call 09 numbers
A number beginning with 09 is a premium rate number usual used for competitions, TV voting, horoscopes, chat lines and similar. From a mobile phone charges typically range between 1p to £3.60 per minute. You may be charged a one-off call cost ranging from 5p to £6.
Mobile network call costs
Since the charges for different calls varies from network to network, here are some handy links so you can find out more details on what you will be charged. For example, what numbers are free on EE?
How to call premium numbers free from mobile
WeQ4U works with 0870, 0800 (now free), 0808 (now free) and 0500 numbers by routing the call through an 03 number which is part of your inclusive free minutes.
Other 08 numbers, including 0845, are redialled using an alternative number sourced from a database such as the one at saynoto0870.com.
Whenever you dial an number beginning 08, an Android phone will automatically pre-dial an 03 access number. This means you don't even have to open the WeQ4U app. However, iPhone users will have to open the app to dial the number, and then tap the Start Call button.
The app will start the call, using an 03 number, and you’ll hear a message from WeQ4U about queuing. Your phone’s dialling screen will be visible so you can select options in automated systems as usual.
If you do find you’re stuck waiting in a queue to talk to someone, simply tap 9* on the on-screen keypad and the app will notify you when an operator has picked up your call.
If you're not an Android or iPhone user, you can still use the service. Just dial 0333 5432111 (better still add the number as a contact in your address book), and then the premium-rate number you need to call.