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Cheap Home Phones Line rental-only deals from £10/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 an equivalent £10/month and daytime calls to 5p each, plus 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.

    Provider Peak times (daytime)
    7am - 7pm
    7am - 7pm
    7am - 7pm
    Virgin Media
    7am - 7pm
    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 which routed calls through BT, keeping the caller ID service free. It's no longer possible to do this with all providers, so ditch caller ID 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
    60 mins
    60 mins
    60 mins
    Virgin Media
    60 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 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 £7.50/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 good 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 the Post Office or others, behind the scenes the actual line is provided by BT Openreach. 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.

Landline installation options and top deals

What if my line goes down for a few days

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 £3/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.

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 68%
OK 22%
Poor 9%
Jun 2014 | Voters: 252

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

The Post Office's home phone service did well in our Jun 2014 customer service poll, with 68% of customers rating it "great".

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Cheapest line rental paid by year

If your provider offers the option - and many including BT, TalkTalk, and Plusnet do - paying upfront is usually the cheapest way to get line rental. For example, you can save £32/yr on BT compared to paying monthly. However, it doesn't mean an upfront deal is necessarily the cheapest overall package for you.

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 68%
OK 22%
Poor 9%
Jun 2014 | Voters: 252

The Post Office Home Phone* package is normally £13/mth 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 Jun 2014 customer service poll, with 68% of customers rating it "great".


BT Line Rental Saver: £159.84 (equiv £13.32/mth)* Good for BT customers who don’t want to switch

  • Price: Equiv £13.32/month
  • Inclusive calls: Weekend landlines
  • Length of free calls: First 60 mins
  • Connection: None
  • Allows override providers? Yes
BT home phone customer services poll
Great 49%
OK 33%
Poor 18%
Jun 2014 | Voters: 1749

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 the many BT customers who don't want to switch away, it offers huge savings on BT's standard line rental.

More providers' upfront line rental costs compared
Provider Upfront cost Cost if paying monthly Inclusive calls? Annual saving vs paying monthly
EE Yearly Line Rental Saver
£132, equiv £11/mth
Yes - weekend
Virgin Media Line Rental Saver
£144, equiv £12/mth
Yes - weekend
Plusnet Line Rental Saver
£155.88, equiv £12.99/mth
TalkTalk Value Line Rental
£172.20, equiv £14.35/mth


Cheapest with broadband

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


EE: B'band & line rent £168 for a year, plus £100 Amzn vch*If line rent's paid upfront. Pay monthly and it's £18.25/mth

  • Price: Equiv £14/month
  • Free calls: Weekend
  • Length of free calls: First 60 mins
  • Broadband: Up to 17Mb , unlimited downloads
  • Connection: £30 if you need a new line
  • Contract: 12 months
  • Coverage: 95% of the UK
  • Wireless: £6

Until Wed 31 Dec go via this special EE deal* link, enter the code 'EEHBB10' and then your contact details.  After that you can sign up for a 1yr contract which includes...

EE home phone
customer service poll results
Great 49%
OK 30%
Poor 21%
Jun 2014| Voters:183

- Compulsory line rental. You pay £132 for the year upfront (you must opt for this during sign-up); equivalent to £11/mth. If you opt to pay by the month, it's £15.75/month.

- Unlimited broadband. It's £2.50/mth, so £30 for the year. Note that after the first year the price will rise, so check then if you can get cheaper elsewhere.

- Weekend calls. Weekend calls to landlines are included, others mostly on a par with BT, and will be slightly cheaper after BT hikes prices on 1 Dec (unless it follows suit and raises its prices too).

- 'Free' router. Yet you'll need to pay £6 delivery.

EE broadband
customer service poll results
Great 42%
OK 23%
Poor 35%
Jun 2014 | Voters:212

-  £100 Amazon voucher after 3mths. It's sent automatically, provided you go via this EE deal* link and enter code EEHBB10 to get the voucher. If you have any problems signing up, call 0800 079 5213 or for any voucher queries

- How to sign up. The EE link* will take you to a new window, where you'll need to enter the code and your contact details (for the voucher to be sent). You'll then be automatically redirected to the EE website where you can sign up. Two confirmation emails will be sent - one about the voucher and one for the new contract.

- Still in contract? Get up to £100 credit to cover switching costs. If you're currently in contract and will have to pay to switch, EE will pay up to £100 to cover getting out of your existing contract  - plus you get the voucher as part of the deal above. You have to pay your old provider upfront, then claim through EE within 90 days of your new broadband going live. You'll need to upload your last bill with your old provider here on the EE site - EE will cover broadband and line rental costs, but not call charges. EE will then credit your account within 60 days of your claim.

Analysis - this is staggeringly cheap

We explain how the deal works above, but with broadband, different companies use different promotional formats, so we like to help you make a fair comparison.

The following analysis excludes call costs, as they depend on you as an individual, and the £60 new line installation fee for those on cable or who need a line.

If you pay line rental upfront. The total broadband, line rental and router delivery cost for the first year is £168, equivalent to £14/mth. Plus you get the £100 Amazon voucher. If you were going to spend that at Amazon anyway, factor it in and it's effectively £68 over the year, so equivalent to just £5.66/mth.

If you pay line rental monthly. The total broadband, line rental cost and router delivery cost for the first year is £225, equivalent to £18.75/mth. Plus you get the £100 Amazon voucher. If you were going to spend that at Amazon anyway, factor it in and it's effectively £125 over the year, equivalent to £10.42/mth.

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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 15p/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 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 charges 11.5p/min plus a one-off 15p connection fee. 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
£5.55 ¹
£7.05 ²
Cheapest override provider
Prices correct at 14 Oct 2014. ¹ Includes one-off 15p call connection fee. ² Includes one-off 15p call connection fee. ³ Includes one-off 14.5p 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 £12 to the US, while Virgin Media costs £36 for Spain.
  • Vonage Talk +World option for unlimited calls

    If you sign up to Vonage you can get unlimited calls to landlines in 70 countries, including Spain, France, Italy, Australia and more for £11/mth. You also get unlimited calls to mobiles in 36 countries, including Canada and the US. 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.


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