Millions of BT broadband, phone and TV customers will be hit with inflation-busting price rises of up to 7% from September in the latest raft of hikes from the telecoms giant. It's the third time since the start of 2014 it has raised standard line rental prices.
If you're one of the roughly 10 million hit you'll be able to leave penalty-free, and those who want to stay with BT can beat the hikes, we explain how (also see our Cheap Home Phones and Cheap Broadband guides for the best buys).
Revealed: how prices will rise from 20 Sept
Here's what's happening for existing customers:
- Line rental increases: Standard line rental rises from £16.99/month to £17.99/month and line rental saver (where you pay for a year upfront) from £183.48/year to £194.28/year.
- Call costs and call packages up: Many packages of inclusive calls are up, eg, unlimited anytime calls to landlines from £7.45/month to £7.95/month if you signed up on or before 20 June 2014. Costs outside a package have also risen such as calls to landlines from 9.58p/minute to 10.24p/minute or 12.77p/minute to 13.65p/minute to mobiles.
- Broadband rises: BT has multiple packages, with a maximum rise of 6.94% a month. To check your price, enter your details on BT's website. For example, the broadband and weekend calls package rises from £13/month to £13.90/month.
- TV packages up: They'll rise by 30p/month-£1/month depending on which package you have.
These are just the headline changes, for a full list of hikes, see BT's website.
Also from Saturday, 5m+ BT Sport customers face a price rise of up to £78/year or will automatically be opted into paying up to £141/year when they currently get it 'free'. We've written a separate Beat the BT Sport hike guide for full info on that.
Five steps to beat the BT hikes
1. Ditch and switch. You can leave penalty-free.
BT is largely duty bound to allow existing customers to cancel their contract penalty-free because rules from regulator Ofcom state providers must allow this if they haven't informed customers of the price rise when they signed up.
If you want to switch to another provider penalty free, BT says you've got 30 calendar days from notification to tell BT you're switching, where you'll be required to give 14 calendar days' notice to leave.
If you want to cancel your contract completely without switching to a new provider, you've got 30 calendar days from notification to tell BT you're switching, where you'll be required to give 30 calendar days' notice to leave.
It adds that customers will not be charged for their "hub" (router) if leaving due to the price rises. However, if you have line rental saver, while you can cancel this and other elements you have with BT penalty free, you won't be refunded any unused months left on your line rental saver contract.
You can currently get broadband and line rental for £136/year all-in via Plusnet (part of the BT group) compared to some BT deals at £400+/year. See our Cheap Home Phones and Cheap Broadband guides for the best buys.
2. Want to stick with BT? Paying line rental upfront cuts costs.
Standard line rental will cost £17.99/month (£215.88 per year) from 20 September. If you can afford to pay upfront, then choose BT's line rental saver* option where you pay in one go for the whole year.
And if you do that before 20 September you can lock in for the year at the current £183.48 price, vastly undercutting standard line rental.
The best prices are usually reserved for new customers, so existing ones lose out on cracking deals. But if you're willing to take the haggle challenge, you could beat a price hike.
In our latest service provider haggle poll, 70% of BT customers polled said they had a success haggling and we've heard many success stories, such as forumite TonyNannini: "Sent BT an email to ask for my Mac code, received a call today cutting £220 per year off my phone and broadband package with an upgrade to unlimited broadband. Shows what can be done with an email."
See our guide on how to haggle with BT, the AA and more, here are five tips to start...
- Benchmark the best deal elsewhere so you ask for a realistic discount.
- Get through to the retentions (sometimes called disconnections) department, as they have the most power to slash costs as their job is to keep you.
- Use charm and be friendly. Aggression or anger will just put their back up.
- Don't panic if they call your bluff and say they'll disconnect you.
- Problems mean discounts, so if you've had issues with BT in the past – eg, slow broadband – politely tell it when you haggle.
Also watch Martin's How to Haggle video for more inspiration.
4. If you want to call, use override providers
With a no-frills override provider, you dial a prefix or access number to connect to its service, then pay its cost, often just via your BT bill.
This can cut costs from 5p/min to 5p/call, and slash mobile rates. Full details in our Override Providers section.
5. Use mobile minutes or call web-to-web for free.
To cut call costs, why pay for a call if you don't have to? So if you've inclusive mobile minutes then use those instead of paying for a BT call.
Also, if you and the person you're calling are both online and have the same special app or web service (eg, Skype, Viber, Facetime or WhatsApp), you can call for free, no matter where in the world you both are.
Do note, there may be charges for using the internet if you are not on WiFi or you're not using unlimited WiFi.
You can do this using a smartphone, tablet or PC. See our Free Web Calls guide for more info.
Are other providers hiking prices?
It's not just BT that's hiking prices. Here's a summary of price hikes the other major telecoms providers have recently announced:
- Virgin Media upped prices for customers with Sky Sports or Movies from 1 June.
- TalkTalk hiked broadband, TV and home phone prices from 1 July.
- Sky TV customers face up to 10% price hike from 1 September.
- Plusnet is hiking home phone and line rental prices from 2 September.
BT adds that from early October it's introducing offers such as inclusive calls to BT Mobile from landlines and a 'double your data' offer for broadband customers who take out another broadband contract with it.
However, always do a price comparison to see if switching away from BT will be cheaper.