A guide to the cheapest land­line deals

The Jewish Chronicle - - Business -

PEO­PLE ev­ery­where are in­fu­ri­ated by tele­phone line rental — or at least it is the first thing on their mind to ask when they spot me. Per­haps it is the idea that af­ter pay­ing hun­dreds of pounds a year for a fa­cil­ity you are then charged for calls, which makes peo­ple’s teeth gnash. Thank­fully though, for the first time ever, I have an an­swer for how you can cut the cost of the line rental and calls.

WHY HAS IT TAKEN SO LONG?

Providers have been com­pet­ing on line rental deals for years, but the worry has been that they will block the use of over­ride providers that can mas­sively cut call costs. Th­ese are spe­cial­ist com­pa­nies which you ac­cess sim­ply by dialling them up on your ex­ist­ing phone line. Once con­nected to them, your call costs are slashed, eg, 5p per call rather than per minute to call a land­line; or half a penny a minute, rather than 20p, to call many coun­tries over­seas.

BT is pre­vented from block­ing ac­cess to th­ese over­ride num­bers, be­cause of its dom­i­nant po­si­tion. Yet the re­stric­tion does not ap­ply to other line rental providers. So sav­ing a quid or two on the line can scup­per your abil­ity to get cheaper calls. Yet for once, the two cheapest line rental providers have guar­an­teed me that they have no plans to block ac­cess, so you can get the best of both worlds.

ARE YOU ON A BT LINE?

Strange as it may sound, the com­pany that pro­vides your phone line need not be the one that you make calls with. Un­less you are with a ca­ble provider (more to come), even if you pay line rental to an­other com­pany such as Talk­Talk or Sky, chances are it is BT pro­vid­ing the hard­ware that makes it all work. As long as have that, you should be able to ac­cess th­ese deals.

THE CHEAPEST LAND­LINE DEALS

This de­pends on whether you are just looking for a phone alone or want bun­dled broad­band too. For that, go to www.mon­eysaving­ex­pert.com/broad­band. Here, I want to fo­cus on phones.

THE EASY OP­TION

Vast num­bers are with BT for line rental and calls, and can­not be both­ered to switch. If that is you, BT gives “free” calls to other land­lines at week­ends on its stan­dard line rental, yet if you agree to a year’s con­tract, you get “free” evening calls too. But “free” just means for the first 60 min­utes. You pay af­ter that, so sim­ply hang up and re­dial to keep it cheap. To pay the min­i­mum £11.25 a month, make sure you pay by di­rect debit and ask for pa­per­less (email) billing, oth­er­wise it can be £14.

The best deal is Primus Home saver at £9.50/month. It in­cludes free evening and week­end calls to land­lines (first 90 min­utes) and it is guar­an­teed to al­low over­ride calls.

The Post Of­fice’s ba­sic Home Phone pack­age is £11.75/month. This in­cludes the first 60 min­utes of evening and week­end calls to land­lines. At week­ends, there are free calls to mo­biles and 40 in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions.

If you make more than ten min­utes of mo­bile calls at the week­end, you are bet­ter off with this than BT’s ba­sic line deal. Over­ride providers are al­lowed, and it tells me there are no plans to change this. For more info and op­tions on th­ese, go to www.mon­eysaving­ex­pert.com/home­phones

CUT THE COST FUR­THER

To halve many land­line call costs without chang­ing provider, set up an ac­count with no-frills phone com­pa­nies such as www.18185.co.uk. Then sim­ply dial the ac­cess code (un­sur­pris­ingly, it’s 18185), be­fore the num­ber you are call­ing.

It charges 5p per call to day­time land­lines, no mat­ter how long you speak (BT’s 4.5p/min) and 6p/min to mo­biles week­days.

This works on BT and other lines men­tioned, though some other call providers block ac­cess. If so, there are other spe­cial num­bers to dial. Go to www.mon­eysaving­ex­pert.com/callchecker for daily up­dated lists.

TIPS FOR CA­BLE USERS

For most peo­ple, ca­ble means Vir­gin, which took over the merged NTL and Telewest a cou­ple of years ago. Un­like stan­dard line rental, it au­to­mat­i­cally pro­vides calls, so it re­quires spe­cific tac­tics to save.

Hag­gle. Vir­gin is fight­ing to hold on to cus­tomers and mar­ket share. You can use this to your ad­van­tage by not­ing down the best deals. Call it up and quote th­ese, say­ing you are con­sid­er­ing leav­ing as it is too ex­pen­sive.

There is a good chance that it will of­fer to re­duce your prices or give you a num­ber of months for free. If it does not, do con­sider leav­ing, as bet­ter deals are likely to be avail­able else­where.

CUT IN­DI­VID­UAL CALL COSTS

Vir­gin calls can be ex­pen­sive, par­tic­u­larly if you are call­ing mo­biles at up to 15p/min. How­ever, you can legally by­pass this to nearly halve the cost, just by dialling a spe­cial code be­fore call­ing.

The best of th­ese over­ride providers is again 18185. There is more info at www.mon­eysaving­ex­pert.com/home­phones

MARTIN LEWIS

CASH-SAV­ING TIPS FROM MON­EYSAVING­EX­PERT.COM’S

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