How much does it cost to call 0800/0845/0870 numbers from your mobile?

September 20th, 2011

Ken’s Tech Tips reveals the costs of calls to special numbers across the major mobile networks and how freephone numbers aren’t always free.

Many people assume that calls to freephone numbers are free. Unfortunately that’s not always true if you call from your mobile – calls to 0800 numbers from your mobile can cost up to 35p/minute. This means a 10 minute phone call to a “free” phone number could cost you up to £3.50! Calls to 0845 and 0870 (charged at local and national rate on BT) aren’t charged as standard calls either: again these cost up to 35p/minute depending on your network and you can’t use your inclusive minutes.

In this article, we aim to highlight the cost of calls to special numbers from a mobile phone. We’ll also discuss how much it costs to call from a BT landline and several ways you can cut the cost of calls to special numbers.

What does it cost to call an 0800 (freephone) number?

“Freephone” numbers are only free if you call from a BT landline. All of the major networks except from Giffgaff charge for calls to “free” phone numbers. This could be as high as 35p/minute. Calls to 0800 numbers are not included in your monthly allowance.

Note that a select few charity numbers and helplines are free-to-call from mobile phones too. Most of these begin with 0808 80. Please consult your tariff details for more information (links at the end of this article).

Pay Monthly Pay As You Go
15.3p/min 10.2p/min in 3G area,
15.3p/min otherwise
20.4p/min 15p/min
7.4p/min 7p/min
7p/min 7p/min
35p/min 25p/min

What does it cost to call an 0845 (“local rate”) number?

Many banks, companies and government services use an 0845 phone number. BT customers pay the same cost as they would for a local phone call (which could be nothing if your BT tariff includes free local calls). Mobile customers will pay between 12p/min and 35p/min. Once again, you cannot use your monthly allowance of minutes for calls to 0845 numbers.

Pay Monthly Pay As You Go
2p/minute but free on some plans
if call shorter than 60 mins
20.4p/min on One Plan
35p/min otherwise
20.4p/min 25p/min
12.4p/min 12p/min
12p/min 12p/min
35p/min 25p/min

What does it cost to call an 0870 (“national rate”) number?

Some companies use national rate 0870 phone numbers. If you use a landline, you’ll pay the standard rate for a national phone call (about 7.6p/min). With some BT plans, this is 1p/min off-peak or even free. Mobile customers have to pay between 12p/min and 35p/min to call 0870 numbers.

Pay Monthly Pay As You Go
7.6p/minute but free on some plans
if call shorter than 60 mins
20.4p/min on One Plan
35p/min otherwise
20.4p/min 25p/min
12.4p/min 12p/min
12p/min 12p/min
35p/min 25p/min

How can I reduce the cost of calls to special numbers?

2 famous symbols
Creative Commons License photo: René Ehrhardt

There are several ways of reducing the cost of calls to special numbers:

  • Use your landline. Calls to special numbers are almost always going to be far cheaper on your BT landline. Waiting until you get home before making the call can save you some money (many call centres are also less busy during these hours so you may spend less time on hold).
  • Find the equivalent geographical number. Sometimes companies will provide two phone numbers for their call centre: a non-geographical number for use within the UK (beginning with 08) and a geographical number for use outside the UK (beginning with +44). It is a little known fact that the geographical number works within the UK too if you replace the +44 prefix with a zero (e.g. +44 20 becomes 020). Calls to geographical numbers should be included in your monthly airtime allowance.
  • Use the SayNoTo0870 website. It provides you with an alternative geographical phone number for the number you want to dial. Calls to geographical numbers will be included in your mobile’s monthly allowance of minutes. Please use these websites with caution: many of the alternative phone numbers on this website are user-submitted and aren’t vetted. You should always double-check the authenticity of geographical numbers listed on this site from an official source. An application is available for iPhone and Android.
  • Use Giffgaff for calls to 0800 numbers. Giffgaff are the only mobile network offering free calls to 0800 numbers.

Where can I find the list of charges on the mobile operator’s website?

The prices we’ve listed on this page are indicative and may not refer to your exact plan. You should double-check the tariff for your plan before making calls to any special rate numbers:


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About Ken

Ken Lo

I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.

Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 13 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Ian said:

    All of these call charges will change on 1 July 2015.

    They will be split into two components, each separately declared.

    Organisations using these numbers now have only a few months to justify their Service Charge and amend all of their marketing materials to declare this charge, otherwise change their number to stop imposing it. Ofcom made replacement 03 numbers available for this purpose in 2007.

    On the same date calls to 080 numbers become free from all mobile phones.

    Additionally, 0845 and 0870 numbers haven’t been local or national rate since 2004. The Advertising Standards Authority issued a Bulletin about this in September 2005.

  2. ethman said:

    Just checked, 8th Jan 2014, it’s 40p/min on T-Mobile to call 0844 numbers. I guess it’s the same for 0845. I think this page is a bit misleading if it’s not kept up to date.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi ethman,
      Thanks for the heads up! This article was originally written back in September 2011 and now requires an update based on changes to call charging. Watch this space, I’m hoping to update the article very soon!

      1. Amir replied:

        Can we have an update this is hopefully out of date.

  3. @dileepdck said:

    0800 Wizard gives a temporary landline number to call that lets you use your minutes or pay the same rate as you would for landlines.

    The bottom of the page lets you do get numbers from the browser if you don't want to or can't use apps.

    1. Ian replied:

      Calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers become completely free from all mobile phones on 1 July 2015.

      Make sure that on 1 July 2015 you uninstall any apps that give cheap calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers. You won’t need them anymore.

  4. chris said:

    Hi,can anybody tell me is it possible to umlock a Sony Ericsson J108i Cedar?At the moment it is locked to 3 Ireland.I have had the phone more than 18mths now.
    Any help much appreciated,

  5. Marky said:

    t mobile the cheapest?

  6. Ella said:

    Orange: 0845 numbers = 40p per min, not 12p! Just checked. Nearly took a new tariff. Always worth checking isn't it? I still really like the site concept though. Good call.

  7. ridetherhythm said:

    Please keep this page updated….
    T-mobile is currently 40p per minute to call 0800 numbers
    The links provided for the operators call charges don't work (T-mobile & Three….must be kept secretive?). Meanwhile links to O2 & Vodafone call charges still work fine and are transparent.
    This page should be on both the Moneysavingexpert and OFCOM websites, so that more people can view this info, which should readily available anyway.
    Mobile and landline free minute packages that can't use be used for non-geographic numbers (usually to customer contact centres0 are a rip-off, that OFCOM should stop.

  8. Jennie said:

    Thank you so much. Information very helpful and clearly set out.

  9. randypaynes said:

    It is very obvious that calling 0845 phone number from a land line is much cheaper compared to using mobile phone.It’s also a good thing to know that Giffgaff offers free call to 0800 number.

  10. Andy said:

    Two things that I have found very useful in my battle against the 08s are:

    1) An Android app called “No to 08″ which intercepts any 08 number you dial and takes you to a simple web page with alternate 01 numbers to try.

    2) A service called 0800Buster which gives you an 01 number to dial and then prompts you for the 08 number and puts you through.

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