A guide to cheaper home phone line rental
What You Need to Know
- You can use different companies for your line rental and phone calls, but it often works out cheaper to get them from the same provider.
- There’s no point switching to a company with cheap line rental if you end up spending more on calls charges, bear in mind what times of the week you’ll be able to make free calls if you switch supplier.
- You may be able to save money by getting your broadband, digital TV and phone services from one supplier in a ‘bundle’ package.
- Bear in mind that if you are signed up to a calls package with a contract you may have to pay an 'exit fee' in order to switch companies.
- If you switch to a new company look out for hidden charges. For example, some companies charge extra for caller identification.
- You can save money by using online ‘paperless’ billing to pay for line rental. Some companies also allow you to save by paying a year’s line rental in advance.
- Switching your line rental normally takes 14-21 days, but you won’t be disconnected and you should be able to keep the same phone number.
Line rental prices have always put a dent in our expenses, now prices are set to rise further. Fortunately, it is possible to make considerable savings on you line rental charges. Our guide is here to explain how;
The Difference between Line Rental and Calls Packages
The monthly expenses you pay for making phone calls are made up of two separate charges. You pay one amount to your network provider for your actual telephone usage, or “calls package”, you pay another, larger, amount in line rental.
This is a charge you pay to a company for letting you use the phone line in your area.
It used to be that all line rental in the UK was paid to BT, as they owned all the phone lines, however, recently OFCOM ordered this monopoly to be broken up and consumers nowadays have much more choice.
This means there are many great deals out there. Saving on utilities has never been more important. Doing it is just a case of understanding your choices.
Look at the Overall Package
It was not so long ago that all line rental was paid to BT, indeed, many people who have chosen a new network provider, such as Virgin, Tiscali or Talk Talk, continue to pay BT for line rental, unaware that they can switch.
In theory it is possible to use different companies to supply your calls package and your line rental, but this not usually the cheapest way of doing things. Line Rental prices do not differ all that much from company to company. At the very best you can save about £3-5 by switching your line rental alone.
However, the combined cost of a phone package and line rental does vary greatly between providers. By switching both to the same company you can save a more impressive amount.
Line rental often comes with a basic calls package, for example you can get free evening and weekend calls at no extra cost from companies such as Primus, The Post Office and BT when you pay them for line rental.
When thinking about how to save, always consider the price of your calls package and line rental combined.
Different providers have different call charges and you should bear this in mind. For example, if you switch to a company with cheap line rental, free evening and weekend calls, but expensive day time calls, it may end being more expensive, especially if you work from home and use your landline a lot in the mornings.
If this is the case you should get an ‘any time’ calls package where you pay a flat monthly rate for all calls.
Again you should think about the combined cost of line rental and the package. Many companies offer cheaper ‘any time’ calls packages than BT, but with more expensive line rental.
Depending on your needs and calling habits it can pay to mix and match calls and line rental using different companies.
It is now possible to get your digital TV, broadband and phone services from just one company in a ‘bundle’ package. This is normally cheaper than getting them separately and simplifies life, as you only receive one bill for all three services.
Therefore, it is likely that your choice of internet and digital TV provider will effect who you decide to pay line rental to.
You should beware simply assuming that a bundle is your best option. Many companies have high charges for calls not included in the plan, so it could end up costing you more if you make calls not covered by the package, such as international calls, or calls made in the morning.
Obviously, if you rarely or never use either digital TV, broadband or landline phones, you’re better off using separate suppliers who can tailor a package to your needs in each area.
Service and Hidden Charges
Many people see an offer they like and give a company their custom before doing proper research. It’s a false economy to switch to a company who charge you a bit less for a much worse service.
Look online for customer reviews to find out about hidden costs and information such as whether the company will charge you to carry out repairs if there’s a problem with your line, etc.
Some providers have hidden charges you weren’t expecting when you decided to switch. For example some will charge for their caller identification service, something most offer for free.
Contracts and Exit Fees
Depending on the type of contract you have with your current provider you may have to pay a hefty exit fee in order to switch to another service. If this is the case it may be cheaper to wait until the contract runs out, and then switch.
Think carefully about the length of the term if you sign a new contract. Many good looking deals come with a 24 month contract, the longest it is legal for network providers to sell. Whose to say that deal will still look so good that far down the line?
Some providers, such as The Post Office, do not tie you in to a contract at all, this can be a great way to keep your options open as you can instantly switch if feel you truly would be better off elsewhere.
You can save considerable amounts on your phone bills and line rental depending on how you choose to pay. For instance, many companies charge you less if you pay your bills by direct debit, and many companies offer a discount for ‘paperless billing’, where you pay and receive your bills online.
Other companies have promotions whereby you can save large amounts by paying one lump some for a year's line rental, rather than a monthly amount. BT, for instance, will charge £120 for a year’s line rental if you pay as a one off card transaction. If you pay monthly you’ll end up giving them almost £50 more.
How to Switch
The actual process is usually painless. In most cases it can be done quite easily using an online switching service.
They will simply need a few details and will handle the switch for you. At no point will you be disconnected and it will only take 14-21 day to take effect. You’ll get to keep your old number as well.
Some companies, such as Virgin Media use their own particular cables, so in order to switch to them you may have to have these installed, which can drive up costs.
Likewise, if don’t currently have a phone line you’ll have get one installed to get a line rental and call packages deal. This added cost may effect who it is cheapest to go with. For example BT will pay to have the line installed for free if you go with them.
- Bundle packages can be a great way to save, but sometimes a separate broadband deal is more cost effective. Here’s a guide to switching broadband providers.
- Ofcom regulate the telecoms industry and you can find a wealth of helpful information for consumers, here.