Updated: Wednesday 25 January, 2012
By Anthony Hill - email@example.com
Telephone bills can be a big expense if your family loves to chat, call abroad often or make calls to mobiles. So how do you cut the cost of your monthly bills?
If large phone bills are eating away at your monthly budget there are loads of ways you can save money. A few simple changes can reduce your bills and even get you some calls for free.
Here are our top tips for making big savings:
If you want to save money, itís important you find a package that has cheap line rental as well as cheap calls.
Primus Saver currently offers the cheapest UK landline at 9.49 a month, including free local and national calls at evenings and weekends.
BT line rental is £15.45 a month, as long as you pay by direct debit. The table below shows how line rental charges compare:
For more money saving tips, read our guide to cutting the cost of your line rental.
Making sure youíre on the right calls package is key to cutting down your monthly phone bills, and will help you take advantage of special offers and discounts.
Calls packages tend to be divided into three main types:
So if youíre on an evening and weekend package calls package but also make calls during the day, it may be worthwhile changing your package to an anytime one in order to make overall savings.
Do this by examining your last three months (or more) bills and working out how much youíve been paying for those daytime calls. Then find out the price of the anytime package, and see if you can save.
Compare home phone packages using the Homephonechoices.co.uk comparison calculator, and see if you can save money by switching to a deal that suits your calling habits.
If you want more from your home phone package, bundling it with your broadband connection or digital TV service could save you money on your monthly home phone bills, and even get you a better service.
Advantages of bundling - You could save money by taking more than one service from the same provider, and some home phone providers even throw in ďfreeĒ broadband, digital TV or line rental when you take one of their bundles. Youíll also have less paperwork.
Disadvantages of bundling - Calls outside of your package allowance can be quite expensive and if you get a ďfreeĒ service, it might not be the best available or even suitable for your needs.
For more information, read our article on bundling your home phone with other services, and download our free guide to bundles. And donít forget to compare prices of bundle packages using our home phone comparison.
Vonage is a low-cost internet phone provider that lets users make phone calls using their existing broadband connection. It works just like a traditional phone service, letting you make phone calls from your home phone to other home phones or mobiles. The main difference is that your phone is plugged into a Vonage adapter which is connected to your broadband router or modem. Unlike other internet phone companies though, the people you call donít need either Vonage or broadband to receive calls from you, and your PC does not need to be switched on.
For more information, read our expert guide to making internet calls using VoIP.
Direct debit is generally the cheapest way to pay all your bills - some companies will charge an extra premium for choosing to pay by a payment method that isnít direct debit. Cable giant Virgin Media (www.virginmedia.com) charges customers £5 if they donít pay by direct debit for example.
It is also often cheaper to opt to have your bills emailed to you rather than sent in the post. For example, if you sign-up to paperless billing and pay by direct debit with TalkTalk (www.talktalk.co.uk), youíll save around £6 a month on your line rental Ė thatís about £70 a year.
While calling features like 1471 and 1571 are free with all providers, other features such as call divert and call barring have to be paid for. These can be added (and removed) to most home phone packages at any time - just phone your supplier and request the feature you want.
Itís important to compare prices of these features though, as there are huge differences from one provider to the next. BT (www.bt.com) for example, charges £4 a month for Anonymous Caller Reject, while Primus Saver charges just £3.50 a month for the same feature.
For more information, read our guide on how calling features are priced.
Calls to 0870 and 0845 premium numbers can be very expensive and are rarely included in free calls packages. However, customers with BT (www.bt.com) can call 0870 and 0845 numbers for free, depending on their calling plans. Subscribers to the Unlimited Weekend Plan get free 0870 and 0845 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.
Alternatively, saynoto0870.com lets you search and find free numbers for some of Britainís biggest companies. Some companies charge up to 50p per minute to phone their customer services, however, saynoto0870.com has loads of freephone numbers listed that could save you loads on your bills.
If you make a lot of calls to mobile numbers, youíll need a provider that offers competitive mobile rates. The table below shows five of the UKís biggest home phone providers and their call rates (in pence per minute) for an evening call to a mobile:
|BT||TalkTalk||Virgin Media||Primus Saver||YourCalls.net|
It is important you compare the different charges for the different mobile networks, as often calls to the Orange and 3 networks are more expensive than the other networks.
Alternatively, some providers offer add-ons that cut the cost of calls to mobiles. BT customers can save 40% on daytime pence-per-minute rates to UK mobiles compared with BT standard rates with the Friends & Family Mobile add-on. An 13.1p call set-up fee applies to each call, and the service costs an extra £1.50 a month.
If you make a lot of calls to numbers overseas, youíll need a package that offers the cheapest international calling rates. Some home phone providers give discounted calls with your package, while others have add-on features that let you save money on international calls for a small fee a month.
YourCalls.net (www.yourcalls.net), home phone from the Post Office (www.postoffice.co.uk) all offer competitive deals for customers that call abroad regularly. For example, YourCalls.net offers discounted international calls with its Golden Destination deal. If you have friends and family abroad you can select one country from the YourCalls.net Golden Destination list - which includes over 300 countries - and receive a discount on your day, evening and weekend calls to that country.
For more information, read our guide on suppliers that offer cheap international calls.
If you frequently make calls abroad with the cost stacking up each month, you may want to consider using a VoIP provider (outlined in section 4), by paying one set fee a month you can make unlimited calls to destinations of your choice. Vonage packages start at £5.99 a month, with up to 45 international destinations included.
It is really important you know what contract youíre on, and when it is going to run out. If youíre tied into a 12 or an 18-month contract, you will probably be faced with exit fees if you want to switch to another provider. If this is the case you should weigh up the savings and the charges before switching - you may find that the savings donít merit the switch.
Similarly, if you are on a rolling-contract and you donít switch when it expires, you may end up being locked into another 12 months with the provider, at a more expensive rate. A way of avoiding this is to make a note (in your diary, on your calendar or set an email alert) to compare prices a month before your deal is about to end. You may find a deal that is cheaper and save yourself hundreds of pounds on your phone bills.