Phone tariffs can be confusing. Some numbers are always free to call, some are included in your free minutes and you’re charged through the nose for calling others.
And to add to the confusion, how much it costs to call a number isn’t the same for everyone. It will depend on your phone provider, whether you call from a mobile or a landline and what digits the phone number starts with.
In this article, we’re going to focus on 0300 numbers. These numbers were introduced by Ofcom in 2007 to enable certain organisations to offer their callers a single, trusted point of contact.
0300 numbers are usually included in monthly landline and mobile phone packages, so if you have free minutes left in your bundle, you will not be charged for calling them.
Otherwise, calling an 0300 number costs the same as calling a standard landline number — whether you are calling from a mobile or a landline.
Read on to find out more about 0300 numbers.
0300 numbers are reserved exclusively for government departments, public sector bodies and non-profit-making organisations, such as registered charities.
Some of the organisations that use 0300 numbers for incoming calls include the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the National Health Service (NHS) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
To use one of these numbers, an organisation must meet strict eligibility criteria, and Ofcom will conduct an internal assessment when deciding whether to allocate an 0300 number. This means that regular businesses — such as sole traders, limited companies and partnerships — should use a normal landline or 0333 number.
The profit made from the cost to call an 0300 number is reinvested in development or overhead costs, such as the operator’s wages, rather than ‘revenue sharing’, which is where an organisation receives part of the call costs incurred by the caller.
These numbers are becoming more and more important because they help government-led and not-for-profit organisations fund and expand their networks.
Here are some examples of some of the charities that use 0300 numbers:
|Charitable organisation||Telephone number|
|Alzheimer’s Research UK||0300 111 5555|
|Alzheimer’s Society||0300 222 1122|
|Battersea Dogs and Cats Home||0300 323 1216|
|British Heart Foundation||0300 330 3311|
|Cats Protection||0300 0121 212|
|Help For Heroes||0300 303 9888|
|Kidney Research UK||0300 303 1100|
|LGBT+ Switchboard Helpline||0300 330 0630|
|Mind Charity||0300 123 3393|
|MS Society||0300 500 8084|
|NHS Organ Donation||0300 123 2323|
|Oxfam||0300 200 1300|
|RNLI Lifeboats||0300 300 9990|
|RSPCA||0300 123 4999|
|Shelter||0300 330 1234|
|The Blue Cross||0300 790 9903|
|The Children’s Society||0300 303 7000|
|The Stroke Association||0300 3300 740|
|UNICEF||0300 330 5580|
|WaterAid||0300 123 4341|
0300 numbers are reserved for good causes because they are:
Although organisations need 0300 numbers to be chargeable so they can cover their costs, it’s also important for them to be affordable enough for people not to be put off calling them. Because many charities use 0300 numbers, they must still be accessible to vulnerable members of society. To help standardise costs, Ofcom prevents network providers from charging more for 0300 numbers than standard 01 or 02 numbers.
Like 0800 numbers, 0300 numbers are non-geographic. This means they are not tied to a specific location, meaning they are inclusive and accessible to everyone.
It’s vital that callers are able to remember a helpline’s number in a time of crisis. A call can be made more quickly if the number is memorable, as the caller won’t have to waste time looking it up. As long as a caller is aware of the 0300 prefix, they will only need to remember seven digits rather than 11.
Organisations benefit from using 0300 numbers in various ways:
- Advertising is easier, as the organisation can use the same phone number for all geographical areas
- Callers can access an organisation via one single national number without having to pay additional charges for variable factors, like geographical location
- Having the appearance of a neutral location minimises consumer bias and is also useful if the company relocates its offices elsewhere
- 0300 numbers aren’t free to call, which means organisations are able to use the connection costs to pay their employees and fund building costs
There are many other 03 numbers that are used in the UK. Some of these include: 0300, 0301, 0302, 0303, 0306, 0330, 0331, 0332, 0333, 0343, 0344, 0345, 0370, 0371 and 0372.
While 030 numbers are reserved for government bodies and charitable organisations, 034 and 037 numbers have replaced 084 and 087 numbers, which had varying costs that made things confusing.
You can usually make calls to the following numbers for free:
- 01, 02 and 03 numbers — You can make free calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers if they are included in your monthly landline or mobile phone package. Do take note, though, that many providers don’t include calls to these numbers in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man in their monthly allowances.
- 080 numbers — These are completely free to call from mobile and landline phones. They’re mainly used for sales and enquiry and customer service lines.
- 100 — The operator can be reached for free by calling 100 on a landline.
- 155 — If you need international operator assistance, you can call 155 for free.
- 101 — Non-urgent crime and community safety calls can be made for free on 101.
- 105 — If you need to report a power cut, you can speak to your local electricity network operator by calling 105 for free.
- 111 — Free non-emergency calls to the NHS can be made on 111.
- 112 — The police, fire, ambulance, coastguard, Mountain Rescue and Cave Rescue emergency services can all be reached for free on 112, however, 999 is used more widely.
- 118 — Formerly contactable on 192, this is the new freephone number for directory enquiries.
- 119 — The COVID-19 helpline can be reached for free on 119.
- 999 — Emergency services freephone number.
The most expensive UK phone numbers to call are 084, 087 and 09 numbers. These premium numbers have an access charge, which means a phone company will charge you a fee for using its network.
Also be wary of 070 numbers, which may look like mobile numbers at first glance, but are in fact ‘personal’ or ‘follow me’ numbers. They can be extremely expensive to call, as they are used to redirect incoming calls to lines in different locations — including foreign countries.
As stated earlier, exact call charges depend on your phone provider, whether you have free minutes included in your call package and whether you’re calling from a mobile or a landline. Call costs also depend on whether you are calling from a payphone or from outside the UK.
However, to give you an idea, here are the rough call costs for the different UK phone numbers:
|Number starts with||Description of number||Approximate landline cost per minute||Approximate mobile cost per minute|
|01 02||Geographic numbers for specific parts of the UK||Up to 16p||3p — 65p|
|03 0345||UK-wide numbers||Up to 16p||3p — 65p|
|030||Non-profit-making organisations, charities and public bodies||Up to 10p||3p — 40p|
|07||Mobile numbers||10p — 20p||3p — 65p|
|070||Personal or ‘follow me’ numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority||50p||86p|
|0800 0808||Freephone service||Free||Free|
|0843 0844 0845||Business rate numbers||Up to 7p, plus your phone company’s access charge||Up to 7p, plus your phone company’s access charge|
|0870 0871 0872 0873||Business rate numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority||Up to 13p, plus your phone company’s access charge||Up to 13p, plus your phone company’s access charge|
|09||Premium rate numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority||Up to £3.60, plus your phone company’s access charge, plus 5p to £6 per call||Up to £3.60, plus your phone company’s access charge, plus 5p to £6 per call|
|101||Police non-emergency number||Free||Free|
|105||UK-wide power cut helpline||Free||Free|
|111||Non-emergency NHS advice||Free||Free|
|118||Directory enquiry numbers regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority||Up to £3.65 per 90 seconds, plus your phone company’s access charge||Up to £3.65 per 90 seconds, plus your phone company’s access charge|
If you have free minutes left in your monthly landline or mobile phone package, you will not be charged for calling 0300 numbers. This is because they are usually included in your bundle. If not, calling an 0300 number costs the same as calling a standard landline number.
0300 numbers are reserved exclusively for government departments, public sector bodies and not-for-profit organisations, such as registered charities. The money made from the cost of an incoming call to an 0300 number is reinvested in development or overhead costs, such as employee wages, rather than ‘revenue sharing’, which is where an organisation receives part of the call costs incurred by the caller. However, these numbers must still be accessible to vulnerable members of society, which is why Ofcom prevents phone companies from charging more for 0300 numbers than standard 01 or 02 numbers.
0300 numbers are becoming more and more important because they help government-led and not-for-profit organisations fund and expand their networks.