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Cheap Home Phones Line rental-only deals from £5.99/mth

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Cut home phone costsIf you're with BT, Virgin Media or TalkTalk, chances are you're paying too much. It's possible to slash line rental down to £6/month, daytime calls to 5p each and get half price calls to mobiles, saving £100s a year.

No one phone provider is cheapest, so this straightforward guide shows you how to make sure EVERY call you make is at the lowest possible rate.

This guide includes standalone line rental best buys, as well as bundled best buys for line rental and broadband, via comparison sites such as Broadbandchoices*, Simplify Digital* and uSwitch*, as well as MSE Blagged deals.

Quick tips to slash costs without switching

For the really big savings, you'll need to switch providers. But there are plenty of ways to trim bills without moving.

  • Pay by direct debit. Most providers will charge extra if you pay by cash, cheque or any method other than direct debit. Virgin Media, for example, charges £5/month for non-direct debit payments.
  • Check social tariffs. If you're struggling financially or have a disability that makes using a landline difficult or necessary, speak to your provider. It may have a social tariff that will minimise the cost of using your landline.

    For example, the BT Basic* tariff is available to those on certain benefits (though who gets it is at BT's discretion) and costs £15.30/per quarter. It includes £4.50 worth of calls to other landlines. Outside the allowance, calls cost 11.3p/min plus a connection fee of 3.3p/per call.

  • Free web-to-web calls. You can talk to anyone, anywhere worldwide for free via the net. Programs such as Skype let you use headsets and webcams to speak to your friends (see the Free Web Calls guide). Don't assume this means web-to-phone is cheaper though, as sometimes there are costs involved.

    The rest of this guide assumes you're calling from a normal phone rather than using the web.

  • Know your peak. Always check when peak and off-peak is. In 2010, BT and TalkTalk moved their peak times from 6am-6pm to 7am-7pm, meaning their users lost an hour of cheap early evening calls. By contrast, Primus's peak time remains 8am-6pm.

    Provider Peak times (daytime)
    BT
    7am - 7pm
    TalkTalk
    7am - 7pm
    EE
    7am - 7pm
    Virgin Media
    7am - 7pm
    Primus
    8am - 6pm
    Post Office
    6am - 6pm
  • Ditch caller ID. Historically, if you used another service for calls (while still paying BT for line rental) you were able to make chargeable calls by dialling the prefix 1280, keeping the service free. It's no longer possible to do this with all providers, so ditch the services to keep costs down.
  • Put down/redial. Unfortunately, almost all "unlimited" call packages are, in fact, limited. While they may say free calls in the evenings, actually that's usually only up to the first hour or so. After that, they're billed. The easy way round this is to put the phone down before the deadline's up, then redial.
    Provider Free call deadline
    BT
    60 mins
    TalkTalk
    60 mins
    EE
    60 mins
    Virgin Media
    60 mins
    Primus
    90 mins
    Post Office
    60 mins
  • Mobile "call-back" pact. Free minutes on mobiles include calling landlines, but inclusive calls with landline packages DON'T usually include calling mobiles. So if you have free minutes, agree a call-back with friends if one of them calls a mobile from a landline.
  • Use override providers. It's possible to cut call costs without switching provider. Use a no-frills override provider, where you dial a prefix number to connect to its service, then pay its cost. This can cut costs from 5p/min to 5p/call, and slash mobile rates. Full details below.
  • Say no to 0870. BT and TalkTalk include 0870 numbers as part of their inclusive call plans, but others don't and charge up to about 11p/min.

    There are ways to cut costs if your provider doesn't include them, or you're calling outside of your call plan. See the Say No To 0870 guide for full info.
  • Check your package. Don't automatically pay for an "unlimited anytime" call plan if you're not going to use it. BT's standard package, BT Unlimited Weekend, includes free calls at the weekend, for example. Pay a little bit more and you'll get evening and weekend calls.

    The next level up is "anytime" calls, which means daytime calls to landlines are included too - with BT it's £7/month. As a rough rule of thumb, it's only worth taking it if you make over an hour of peak-time calls each month. Of course, you can undercut this deal by switching.

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Home phones: Choosing a package

There are some cracking home phone deals on the market at the moment, including cheap line rental, upfront line rental and line rental with broadband.

If you're planning to switch, always contact your existing provider first, as it may offer to beat/match any deal you've found.

What's a "BT line"? The term "BT line" doesn't necessarily mean your home phone service is provided by BT. All providers - apart from Virgin Media, which has its own fibre optic network - use BT's copper wire network (overhead phone lines from telegraph poles to your home).

So even if you pay line rental to Primus, the Post Office or others, behind the scenes the actual line is provided by BT. When it comes to getting a "BT line" installed, there are a number of options available - take a look at the dropdown below for more information.

Not every package is available at the cheapest price everywhere - it can vary with location.

Cheapest line rental deals paid monthly

If you haven't switched your landline provider, and you're out of contract, you could save over £9/month on line rental when switching from BT to the cheapest deal on the market. But remember to factor in call costs if there aren't any calls included with the line rental.

Primus

Primus: £5.99/monthLine rental only, no calls, 12-month contract

  • Price: £5.99/month
  • Inclusive calls: None included
  • Connection: None
  • Contract: 12 months
  • Allows override providers? Yes (Gave MSE written guarantee lasting until at least Dec 2014)
Primus home phone customer services poll
Great 61%
OK 23%
Poor 16%
Nov 2012 | Voters: 222

You can get Primus Line Rental Saver for just £5.99/month if you sign up for a year via comparison site Broadbandchoices.

As a comparison, BT's standard line rental is £15.99/mth and includes free calls to UK landlines at weekends.

You don't get any inclusive calls with this Primus deal, so it's best for low users. Weekend calls cost 5p/min, evening calls also cost 5p/min and daytime calls cost 7.4p/min. Every call will also incur a one-off 13.4p connection fee.

If you do want inclusive calls its Home Saver option offers free evening and weekend calls for £6.99/mth. Daytime calls are 7.4p/min, but there's also a one-off connection fee of 13.4p per call. It's a 12-month contract also available via Broadbandchoices.

Warning! While the cheapest, we've had a disproportionate number of reports about Primus customer service and serious billing issues. Please consider this. If you're with Primus, and having problems or not, please let us know. Primus sees emails sent to this address.

Post Office

Post Office: £13/month*Line rental, free weekend calls to UK landlines & 0845/0870 numbers

  • Price: £13/month
  • Inclusive calls: Weekend landlines
  • Length of free calls: First 60 mins
  • Connection: None
  • Allows override providers? Yes (home phone only not broadband customers)
Post Office home phone customer services poll
Great 81%
OK 14%
Poor 5%
Nov 2012 | Voters: 252

The basic Post Office Home Phone* package is £13/month and gives inclusive weekend calls to UK landlines.

If you ignore Primus, due to its current customer service, this is the cheapest basic line rental package.

The Post Office's home phone service did well in our November 2012 customer service poll, with 81% of customers rating it "great".

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Cheapest line rental paid by year

If your provider offers the option, paying upfront is usually the cheapest way to get line rental. However, it doesn't mean an upfront deal is the cheapest overall package.

By agreeing to pay for 12 months' line rental in advance, several providers offer a reduced rate, which can save over £51 on BT compared to paying monthly, for example. A number of providers offer it including BT, TalkTalk, Plusnet and Primus.

Warning - beware paying upfront. There's a risk of losing your cash if the provider goes bust. This risk is bigger with smaller companies.

Post Office

Post Office: £120 (equiv £10/mth)* Line rental, free weekend calls to UK landlines & 0845/0870 numbers

  • Price: Equiv £10/month
  • Inclusive calls: Weekend landlines
  • Length of free calls: First 60 mins
  • Connection: None
  • Allows override providers? Yes (home phone only not broadband customers)
Post Office home phone customer services poll
Great 81%
OK 14%
Poor 5%
Nov 2012 | Voters: 252

The Post Office Home Phone* package is normally £13/month and gives inclusive weekend calls to UK landlines. However if you can, pay £120 upfront for the year, and get it for the equivalent of £10/mth.

The Post Office's home phone service did well in our November 2012 customer service poll, with 81% of customers rating it "great".

BT

BT Line Rental Saver: £141 (equiv £11.75/mth)* Good for BT customers not fussed about switching away

  • Inclusive calls: Weekend
  • Saving: £51/yr (standard line rental £15.99/mth)
  • Availability: 80% UK
  • Link: BT Line Rental Saver*

This pay-in-advance option is only available with online paperless billing. You must set up a direct debit to cover call charges.

This isn't the cheapest pay-in-advance option, but for many BT customers who don't want to switch away, it offers huge savings on BT's standard line rental.

TalkTalk Value Line Rental* £126/year (equiv £10.50/mth)

  • Inclusive calls: None

  • Saving: £58.80/yr (standard line rental £15.40/mth but includes eve & wknd calls)
  • Availability: 85% UK (combine with TalkTalk Essentials package for best deal)
  • Link: TalkTalk Value Line Rental*

Virgin Media Line Rental Saver* £128/year (equiv £10.67/mth)

  • Inclusive calls: Weekend
  • Saving: £63.88/yr (standard line rental £15.99/mth)
  • Availability: Over 50% - check in your area
  • Link: Virgin Media Line Rental Saver* (sign up for your package online, then call number provided when your installation date's confirmed to sign up to Line Rental Saver)

Cheapest with broadband

Many phone providers offer competitive bundled deals - for comparison, remember BT's basic line rental alone costs £15.99/mth.

Yet the price of standalone broadband has dropped to around £8.50/month with some providers (see Cheap Broadband) which means getting them separately can sometimes save more money.

TalkTalk

TalkTalk: £14/month equiv*Line rental, broadband and calls

  • Price:£14/mth equiv (line rental upfront)
  • Inclusive calls: None
  • Length of inclusive calls: N/A
  • Broadband: Up to 16Mb , totally unlimited downloads
  • Free international calls: No
  • Connection: Free
  • Contract: 12 months
  • Coverage: 85% of the UK
  • Wireless: Free wireless router

TalkTalk has launched a cheap new package for those who only need basic broadband and no calls. The Simply Broadband* package is only £3.50/mth plus line rental, though no landline calls are included.

Here's how it works...

  • Line rental. It's usually £15.95/month, but later in the sign-up process you can opt to pay £126 for a year upfront, equivalent to £10.50/month.

  • Broadband. You get unlimited downloads for £3.50 a month.

So all in, assuming you pay the line rental upfront and broadband it's £168 over the 12 months, its equivalent to £14/month.

If you need a new phone line or to reactivate one, it usually costs £50. Currently, if you need to pay that, TalkTalk applies £50 credit to your first bill.

Considering switching? Read the full details first...

Tesco

Tesco bundle: £18/month equiv*Line rental, unlimited broadband, evening and weekend calls

  • Price: £17.80/mth equiv
  • Free calls: Evening and weekend
  • Length of free calls: First 60 mins
  • Broadband: Up to 14Mb, unlimited downloads
  • Free international calls: No
  • Connection: Free
  • Contract: 12 months
  • Coverage: 55% of the UK
  • Wireless: Free wireless router (£6 delivery)

You can get a hefty discount on Tesco broadband if you take its line rental. Plus if you've got a Tesco Clubcard, you'll get 1 point for every £1 on your monthly bill.

Tesco broadband
customer service poll results
Great 42%
OK 19%
Poor 39%
Nov 2012 | Voters: 83

Pay £17.80/month on a year's contract for Tesco* line rental, and you can get broadband for £2/month (usually £6/month). To get it, sign up before 30 June 2014.

There's a 12-month contract. Factor in the £5 router delivery charge and it's equivalent to £17.80/month. After 12 months, if you decide to stay on, it's an extra £6/month for broadband.

Tesco home phone
customer service poll results
Great 56%
OK 36%
Poor 8%
Nov 2012 | Voters: 75

What do I get?

Broadband: You'll get speeds of up to 14Mb (depending on your postcode), and unlimited downloads.

Home phone: You'll get line rental, evening and weekend calls to UK landlines and evening and weekend calls to 0870/0845 numbers.

Plusnet

Plusnet bundle: £19/month equiv*Line rental & unlimited broadband

  • Price: £18.60/month equiv
  • Free calls: No (if you pay upfront)
  • Length of free calls: First 60 mins
  • Broadband: Up to 16Mb , unlimited downloads
  • Connection: Free
  • Free international calls: No
  • Contract: 12 months
  • Coverage: 85% of the UK
  • Wireless: Yes (£5.99 postage)

If you take Plusnet's line rental, you can get Unlimited Broadband* for £2.99/month for 12 months when you sign up via Broadbandchoices. The offer ends 6 May 2014. Here's how to get it:

  • Broadband.Sign up via the link above and you'll get unlimited download broadband at £2.99/mth for 12 months (available to 85% of UK).

  • Line rental. You need line rental, which is usually £14.50/month. But later in sign-up process you can opt to pay 12 months upfront at £131.88 (equivalent to £10.99/mth). This option doesn't include any calls.

Pay the year's line rental upfront, include £5.99 router delivery and it's £220 all-in for a year (equivalent to £18.60/mth).


This excludes weekend calls

Sign up to the deal above, paying the full £14.50/month line rental, and you'd normally get inclusive weekend calls. Yet opt to pay a year's line rental upfront for a discount, and you don't get them.

Paying monthly costs £42 more a year, so it's up to you how much you value weekend calls. You'd get inclusive calls to UK landlines, including 0845 and 0870 numbers.

Existing customer specials

If you've a Sky TV package, some current special offers can cut the cost of your home phone service even further.

Sky

Sky: £19/month equiv*Line rental, up to 16Mb broadband, 12-month contract

  • Price: £19.30/month
  • Coverage: 90% of the UK
  • Free calls: Weekends
  • Length of free calls: First 60 mins
  • Contract: 12 months
  • Wireless: Yes
  • Connection: No
  • Broadband: Up to 16Mb, unlimited downloads
Sky home phone customer services poll
Great 62%
OK 30%
Poor 8%
Nov 2012 | Voters: 1,291

Existing Sky TV customers can get broadband for £3.75/mth when they add Sky broadband via Broadbandchoices* (half the usual price of £7.50/mth) and pay £15.40/mth for Sky line rental. You also get a £25 M&S voucher on top.
Add Sky broadband via the link above and you get unlimited broadband for £3.75/mth for a year when you pay for Sky line rental. Here's how it works...

  • Broadband. You get unlimited downloads for £3.75/mth for 12 months (half the usual price of £7.50/mth). There's a one-off cost of £2.18 for the router.

  • Line rental. It's £15.40/month, including weekend calls.

Include line rental at £15.40/mth and the router, it works out as costing the equivalent of £19.30/mth.

The M&S voucher will be sent to the email addresss you gave Sky within 45 days of your service starting.

VirginCutting cable landline costs
Virgin Media

For most people, cable means Virgin Media. Unlike providers that use a BT phone line, Virgin Media uses its own cable technology, so switching can be difficult. There are ways you can keep your costs down, though.

  • Haggle down the cost

    Virgin Media is hunting for market share, and voraciously fighting to keep customers. You can use this to smash down your costs. Note down the best deals, call it up quoting these, and say you're considering leaving, as it's too expensive.

    Often the result's a reduced price or a number of months for free. If it isn't, do consider leaving. Many MoneySavers have repeatedly succeeded with this, so try it. Add your feedback and read others' in the Virgin Media Discounts discussion. The Cheap Digital TV guide has more tips.
  • Cut individual call costs

    Virgin Media's calls are often expensive, especially calling mobiles at up to 32p/min. You can legally bypass this to nearly halve the cost - see the next section.

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Get super-cheap costs for every call...

When a home phone includes free calls, these are usually only to landlines beginning 01, 02 and 03. Any other calls you make, such as calls to 0870 premium rate numbers and 07 mobile numbers, can be costly.

The way to save is with a no-frills override provider that you can access without changing phone company (if this is new to you, read a quick override provider briefing). Some phone companies block override providers or can charge more, so check yours first with a test call.

Halve the cost of calling mobiles

Most providers exclude calls to mobiles from their inclusive calls, as they're far more expensive and make up the biggest proportion of the bill, meaning big bucks for phone companies. Yet it's easy to halve the price.

Most also charge a one-off call connection fee plus around 12p/min for daytime mobile calls, but set up an account and direct debit with the overall cheapest override provider, 18185 (it's occasionally beatable for specific calls).

Then, dial that number before you call a mobile and your call cost is reduced to a 5p connection then 6p/min. The price is less competitive at weekends, so compare it to your normal provider.

While BT, Primus and the Post Office let you use the 18185 prefix, some providers, including Virgin Media and TalkTalk, can block it. If so, its website lists alternative access numbers you can use, though the prices for these can vary.

Alternatively, use the daily updated UK CallChecker to find the cheapest no-account-needed providers which cost as little as 6p/min. For a detailed explanation, and alternatives in case your provider blocks 18185, read the full Cut The Cost Of Calling Mobiles guide.

Calling landlines during the day

If your package doesn't include daytime calls to landlines, then it can be expensive. BT charges 9p/min plus a one-off 15p call connection fee, and TalkTalk about the same. It's easy to slash this cost though:

  • 18185 charges 5p per CALL

    Specialist override provider 18185 wins again, at just 5p to call a landline, no matter how long you chat (so an hour here is 5p, compared to over £3 with normal providers). See the mobiles section above for a more detailed explanation of how it works.

Daytime call costs compared
Provider Cost per min Cost of one hour's call
BT
9p/min
£5.55 ¹
TalkTalk
8.41p/min
£5.18 ²
Primus
7.4p/min
£4.57 ³
Cheapest override provider
0p/min
5p
Prices correct at 1 Oct 2013. ¹ Includes one-off 15p call connection fee. ² Includes one-off 13.87p call connection fee. ³ Includes one-off 13.4p call connection fee.
  • Other override providers cost as little as 0.5p/min
    If your phone company blocks account-needed override providers like 18185, it's still possible to slash the cost by using simply-dial providers. Just call an 0844 number which will allow you to call at a special cheap rate from as little as 0.5p/min.

    To find the cheapest override provider, use the daily updated UK MSE CallChecker.

  • Upgrade your package
    If neither of those suit, and you make enough calls to justify it, you could upgrade your package and pay a few pounds more a month to get the calls included for free.

Cut the cost of calling abroad

If your package doesn't include calls abroad or excludes a country you're dialling, be careful; it may be hideously expensive. Instead, there are a number of cost-cutting options.

  • Override providers cost as little as 0.4p/min
    Again, specialist override providers cost a fraction of main providers' prices and you won't need to change your phone line. For a full guide to this, see the Cheap International Calls guide, which includes info on daily updated cheapest providers for every country.

    As an example, you can call the US or Spain for 40p for AN HOUR. BT's standard is over £10 to the US, while Virgin Media costs £35 for Spain.
  • Vonage's 'world option' for unlimited calls
    Vonage charges from £8.50/month (if you pay £102 for a year upfront, otherwise it's £10.20/mth) for unlimited calls to mobiles and landlines in 11 countries, including Canada and the US, and unlimited calls to landlines in 57 countries, including Spain, France, Italy, Australia and more. There's a £5 delivery charge though.

    For full options, read the Cheap International Calls and Free Web Calls guides.

Can you grab cashback on top?

It's often possible to get extra cashback when you sign up for a home phone package. Yet it isn't done direct. To get it, sign up via specialist cashback websites. These use affiliate links to generate revenue, and if they get paid when you sign up, they give some or all of it to you.

Always check first that it's an identical product, and clear any cookies if you've already clicked through. Remember, as the cashback isn't coming from the product provider, but playing the system to an extent, it's never 100% guaranteed and there can be problems.

Therefore it's generally best to first pick the right product and see the cashback as an added extra. For more information, pros and cons, and to find which cashback providers pay most for any product, see the Top Cashback Sites guide.

What's more, sometimes there are special higher rates negotiated for the short term. These tend to have a higher payout reliability; when they happen we'll try to list them here and include them in the weekly email.

Glossary

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