Tech Talk: How to make cheaper phone calls

Costly extra: A landline phone is an anachronism but we need it for broadband.

Costly extra: A landline phone is an anachronism but we need it for broadband.

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IN AN age of mobile communications, the landline phone has become an anachronism. Yet nearly everyone is continuing to pay upwards of £15 a month for the privilege of renting one.

Although many of us could do without the phone itself, the line from the telegraph pole to your house is vital because it’s the one that also carries your broadband signal. But, though you can’t eliminate the rental cost you can certainly reduce it.

The chances are, your phone line is currently supplied by your broadband provider and the rental added to your monthly bill. But nearly all of them will let you pay for a year’s rental up front – saving you between £20 and £57 over the year.

You can also shop around for a cheaper deal – the best at the moment is DirectSave Telecom, which is offering line rental for £132 a year – equivalent to £11 a month.

Whichever company you end up with, keep in mind that you don’t need to route your calls through them – you will get much better value by using an override provider. This is one that you access by dialling a five-digit code before the regular number; the call then by-passes your usual phone company.

The savings can be staggering - especially when calling mobile numbers, which are typically excluded from inclusive call packages. 18185.co.uk, one of the cheapest overriders, charges a flat rate of 6p a minute to mobiles on weekdays and 7p at weekends, plus a 5p connection fee for each call – half the standard cost.

Even on regular landline calls, the savings are dramatic: 18185 charges nothing except the connection fee. So an hour’s conversation which could cost £5.91 on BT is reduced to just 5p. But some line rental companies block overriders – so check your small print before signing up.

To get started with an overrider, you’ll have to set up an account on their website and hand over your credit card number. Remembering to dial the prefix is a nuisance, but for regular calls you can add it to the numbers in your phone’s memory.

Finally, when you’re calling a company, don’t use the premium-rate 0870 number on their letterhead. Find a normal-priced equivalent number on the website SayNoTo0870.com.

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