British Telecom is cutting by one hour the time 4.7 million phone users have to make landline-to-landline evening calls without charge.

The telecoms giant will define evenings as anytime from 7pm from 1 April. At present, evenings start at 6pm (see the Cheap Home Phones guide).

BT is also hiking the one-off set-up fee on all calls outside inclusive minutes from 9.3p to 9.9p at the same time. The cost of a daytime call will also rise from 5.4p to 5.9p per minute.

This means a one-hour call at 6pm to a landline will cost £3.64 from 1 April instead of nothing for those on the 'unlimited' evenings and weekends call package.

April price hike

BT usually introduces price rises in April. Last year, it added £1 a month to standard line rental costs and hiked other call prices (see the BT price hike MSE News story).

BT has 4.7 million customers on its 'unlimited' evening and weekend call plan, 5.3 million on its 'unlimited' weekend plan and two million on its 'unlimited' anytime call plan.

'Unlimited' calls mean inclusive calls to landlines only.

The changes to inclusive call times see the daytime defined as 7am to 7pm, compared to 6am-6pm now. This also means some users will have an extra hour of inclusive calls between 6am and 7am, though few are made at that time.

BT says 6pm to 7pm is a busy time of day but not the busiest. It says most calls are made between 8pm and 9pm.

A BT spokesman says: "Customers can avoid increases in fees or by switching to our anytime package. We are offering three months free.

"The switch of daytime hours brings us into line with the standard daytime hours for mobile operators."

Slash costs

You can cut the cost of calling by dialing a prefix to re-route calls to cheaper providers, known as override providers. These can be used when calling mobiles, landlines and overseas numbers.

Alternatively, you can get cheaper line rental altogether (see the Cheap Home Phones guide).

Further reading/Key links

Slash call costs: Home Phones, Cheap Mobiles