Some landline telephone providers will waive certain calls, but most mobile providers won't. Here we look at the cost of these premium-rate numbers and how you can avoid paying for them.
How much do you pay?
CHEAPEST: The cost of a call to 01/02 numbers
These are everyday local numbers and are included within your free calls in landline and mobile packages. The average cost to these numbers is around 5p a minute during peak times and 1p a minute off peak from a landline. Most landline contracts include free evening or weekend calls to these numbers. These numbers cost around 10p per minute from a mobile.
The cost of a call to 03 numbers
The industry regulator Ofcom introduced 03 numbers back in 2007 as an alternative to chargeable 08 numbers like 0870. Calls to 03 numbers cost the same as local area calls and will be part of monthly inclusive payment plans.
The cost of a call to 0500 numbers
These calls are free from landlines, but come with a charge if you call them from your mobile. For example, Vodafone charges 14p a minute and Orange charges 20p a minute.
The cost of a call to 0845 and 0870 numbers
Both of these phone numbers are non-geographic and some landline packages, such as Sky and TalkTalk include these numbers for free in their monthly packages but most mobile phone providers will charge you between 14p to 40p a minute.
The cost of a call to 0800 and 0808 numbers
These calls will charge you if you're calling from a mobile and are only free for the caller when they're dialing from a landline. For example, 02 charges 20p a minute for pay monthly customers and 15p a minute for pay as you go customers.
The cost of a call to 0871 and 0844 numbers
Calls to 0871 and 0844 are generally not free from mobiles or landlines. Vodafone charges 35p a minute and there's a one minute minimum charge time. BT also charges 10p per minute if you call it from a landline.
The cost of a call to 070 numbers
Phone numbers starting with 070 are not mobile numbers and are used to divert calls from one phone to another. These are expensive to call and are not included in most packages. For example, Vodafone charges 66.4p a minute and Orange charges 76p and there is a one minute minimum. You also have to pay if you use a landline.
MOST EXPENSIVE: The cost of a call to 09 numbers
Calls to 09 numbers are the most expensive type of premium-rate numbers you can call. Costs vary but you'll have to pay whether you use a landline or a mobile and Vodafone says costs can be between 51p to £2.04 a minute.
Can I avoid paying for these calls?
Yes, you can. Here are a couple of suggestions.
Use an alternative phone number
Many companies list a separate phone number to be used when calling from abroad, which usually begins in the format +44.
Even if you're not abroad you can still use this number and it will be charged at a normal telephone rate. If you look on a company's website there should also be a geographic head office number that you can call and ask to be redirected to the customer services team.
The website saynoto0870.com offers an extensive list of alternative numbers for UK companies who use expensive 08 numbers. On the website there is search tool so you can enter a company's name and find an alternative number which won't charge you any extra. There's also a free app for smart phones, which works in the same way.
If you have access to the internet, sending an email is a quick and efficient way of communicating with a company. It also provides you with a record of communication, which you may need at a later date.
Fair usage policy
Although many phone providers, such as BT, will waive the cost of selected 08 numbers a fair usage policy does apply. This means you're allowed to make 1,000 minutes of calls to these numbers or 150 calls a month. If you exceed this you'll have to pay for each call and the phone provider should inform you before this happens. However, this does only apply to landlines.