It's that annoying moment when you need to call a helpline or similar from your mobile phone but you'll be charged extortionate amounts for it. Here's how to call 0845, 0870 and 0800 numbers free from your mobile. Find out which nuimbers are free from your mobile and the cost of specific numbers. Check out the best smartphones of 2015.
You might have a smartphone call plan with unlimited minutes, but that’s unlikely to include premium rate numbers. If you’re stuck without access to a landline, calling numbers beginning with 0845, 0870 and 0800 is something to avoid. Many companies use such numbers to offset the cost of tech support, or to simply make more money.
Mobile networks tend to charge excessive amounts for these types of numbers – even more than when calling from a landline - although Giffgaff at least allows you to call 0800, 0808 and 0500 number for free. They typically costs 30p per minute, so a half-hour call to Ikea’s customer service will set you back £9.
Ofcom has said that from June 2015, "freephone will mean free" for 0800, 0808 and 116 numbers. That's still a wait until that happens, there is a way to call otherwise chargeable numbers without costing you a penny. Below is our guide to the cost of calling different numbers from your mobile phone and a guide on how to make some of those numbers free.
What numbers are free from mobile? The current situation and costs
01, 02, 03 and 030 numbers
The first three in the above list are geographic numbers and will be included in any minutes you have on your mobile tariff. If you're using credit or minutes outside of your allowance, these will cost 8p and 40p per minute depending on your network and plan.
030 numbers are for non-profit organisations, charities and public bodies such as The BBC, the Met Police, the RSPCA, Oxfam and some local councils. These come under the same pricing structure as the geographic numbers above.
As you might already know, 07 numbers are for mobile phones, and cost between 30p and £1.50 per minute but will usually be included in a tariff's minute allowance. Often you'll get free calls to other users on the same network, too.
070 and 076 numbers
While 07 numbers are easily recognisable as mobile numbers, 070 numbers are another kettle of fish. They are a legitimate number and used as a follow me service so calls are diverted from one number to another meaning the person being called can keep their own number private, and remain contactable wherever they go. They are also used by small businesses and sole traders easily manage calls.
However, they are also used a scam where you get a missed call and because it looks like a regular mobile you call it back. What you're actually dialling is a service which costs up to £1.50 per minute. Often the call is dropped or an engaged tone played while you're charged. You might also hear a recorded voice telling you the line is bad, requesting you call a second time.
The bottom line is that if you get a missed call from an 070 or 076 number, do not call it back. You can note down the number and complain to the premium rate regulator PhonepayPlus (0800 500 212).
0800 and 0808 numbers
If you're calling 0800 or 0808 from your mobile then these will be free soon as per the above Ofcom comment. However, may networks already make them free. When calling one of these numbers, the operator must announce to you before the call is connected stating you will be charged. So if you're unsure, begin the call and wait for a message.
0843/4, 0845, 0870, 0871/2/3 numbers
All of these 08 numbers are chargeable business rate numbers, usual used when you need to contact a company, customer service or similar. They will all cost between 5p and 41p per minute, depending on the provider and the number called.
118 directory enquiry numbers
Be very careful if you're thinking about calling a direct enquiry number beginning with 118. These have a one-off charge between 50p and £4, and can then be charged at up to £5 per minute afterwards!
A number beginning with 09 is a premium rate number usual used for competitions, TV voting, horoscopes, chat lines and similar. From a mobile phone charges typically range between 75p and £3 per minute or per call so check before you hit dial.
How to call 0845, 0870 and 0800 numbers free from your mobile
If you have an Android smartphone or iPhone, head to the App Store or Google Play Store and download the WeQ4U app. It’s free because it includes adverts. Install it and then open it. WeQ4U works with 0870, 0800, 0808 and 0500 numbers by routing the call through an 03 number which is part of your inclusive free minutes. Other 08 numbers, including 0845, are redialled using an alternative number sourced from a database such as the one at saynoto0870.com.
Whenever you dial an number beginning 08, an Android phone will automatically pre-dial an 03 access number. This means you don't even have to open the WeQ4U app. However, iPhone users will have to open the app to dial the number, and then tap the Start Call button.
The app will start the call, using an 03 number, and you’ll hear a message from WeQ4U about queuing. Your phone’s dialling screen will be visible so you can select options in automated systems as usual.
If you do find you’re stuck waiting in a queue to talk to someone, simply tap 9* on the on-screen keypad and the app will notify you when an operator has picked up your call.
If you're not an Android or iPhone user, you can still use the service! Just dial 0333 5432111 (better still add the number as a contact in your address book), and then the premium-rate number you need to call.