Many people opt to pay for a monthly pre-paid contract with their landline and mobile providers. These contracts essentially offer free call packages as long as the calls are only made to certain numbers and are kept to a specific time limit.
However, there are still pay-as-you-go users that are open to different call charges as well as some phone numbers that will charge the caller even if they have a pre-paid contract.
Some numbers even bill both the phone company's access charge and then an additional service charge on top of that. So before making calls to a new number that doesn't look familiar, it is important to understand exactly how much the call is going to cost you.
We are going to take a look at UK service numbers and find out how much each one charges.
The cost of calling a particular phone number varies depending on the digits it begins with, the contract you have with your phone provider, and whether you use a landline, mobile, or business phone. Many calls from your phone may be free as part of your call package, but you should first check with your phone provider as unexpected charges can quickly add up.
The costs we outline in this article are from 2022 and regard calls made from within the UK. If you have been charged more than expected for a call, contact your phone provider to find out why. Calls from payphones may be more than the numbers we outline here, but the phone box should have the charges clearly displayed within them.
So let's jump in and find out how much it costs to call the different UK service numbers.
01 and 02 numbers: Area codes
01 and 02 numbers indicate that the call is coming from a particular place in the country via a standard landline. For example, 01865 is the area code for Oxford, 020 is for London, and 0161 is for Manchester.
Calls to these numbers from other UK landlines are charged up to 16p per minute, though they can be less depending on the provider. Some network providers also charge a dial-up connection fee of a few extra pence.
Charges may be more or less depending on the time of day and some packages even allow for free calls during certain hours.
The cost of calling 01 or 02 numbers from a mobile phone varies and depends upon the package you have. Most pre-paid contracts will include calls to these numbers, while pay-as-you-go sims can charge anywhere from 3p to 65p per minute.
You may also see that many businesses and organisations use 03 numbers. These are an alternative to other business phone numbers that can cost the caller a lot of money. For example, 0345 is now often used instead of 0845.
03 numbers cost the same as 01 and 02 numbers.
07 numbers: Mobile phones
07 numbers (though not 070 numbers) are used for UK mobile phones. Most landline network contracts will include free calls to mobiles. If they don't, they will likely charge between 10p and 20p per minute.
Calls to mobiles from other mobiles are included in pre-paid contract packages. If you have a pay-as-you-go sim, then the price is the same as calls to landlines and should cost anywhere between 3p and 65p per minute depending on your provider.
070 numbers: Personal or 'follow me' services
It is important to note that 070 numbers are not mobile numbers and calls made to them can be very expensive. 070 numbers are known as either 'personal' or 'follow me' numbers and are often used to divert from one number to another.
There was a time when 070 numbers were used to scam callers out of lots of money. But now they have been regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority and such scams are far less prevalent.
However, if your phone provider doesn't include calls to 070 numbers in your allowance, then they can still be quite costly. 070 numbers charge between 50p and 86p per minute.
0800 and 0808 numbers: Freephone
0800 and 0808 numbers are used by businesses and organisations as freephone lines. They may also be used by charities, helplines, and some government services.
As their name suggests, calls to these numbers are free of charge from both mobile phones and landline calls.
084 and 087 numbers: Sales and enquiries
084 and 087 numbers are usually used by organisations and businesses for sales or enquiries.
The cost of calling these numbers is split into two parts. First, you are charged an access fee by your phone company. Then, you are charged a service fee that is set by the organisation you are calling.
084 numbers can charge up to 7p for the service fee. The access fee is dependent on your provider but will likely cost between 8p to 67p per minute.
087 numbers charge a slightly higher service fee than 084 numbers. The service fee for 087 numbers is between 0p and 13p per minute. Again, the access charge is dependent on your provider, but will usually cost between 8p and 67p per minute.
09 numbers: Chat lines, call-ins, and competitions
09 numbers are used for competitions, television voting, chat lines, call-ins, horoscope services, adult lines, etc.
The cost of calling 09 numbers is split into two parts. First, you are charged an access fee by your phone company. Then, you are charged a service fee that is set by the organisation you are calling.
The service charge can be very expensive and ranges from 1p up to £3.60 per minute. You may also be charged an additional one-off call cost that can range from 5p to £6. The service charge must be clearly displayed wherever the number is promoted.
The access charge, which goes to your phone providers, ranges from 8p to 67p depending on the company.
As these calls can be so expensive, you can usually opt to block them from being made by your phone. That way you ensure that any children etc. who have access to your phone are unable to make a call to a TV show or a similar such line and leave you with a hefty phone bill.
116 numbers: Services of social value
116 numbers are used for services of social value which are always freephone.
For example, 116 numbers include missing children helplines, child abuse helplines, and emotional support helplines.
116 numbers are free to call from any phone, whether landline or mobile.
118 numbers: Directory enquiry and operators
118 numbers are for directory enquiry services or operators. These numbers are used as switchboard services for connecting you with other numbers.
The cost of calling 118 numbers is split into two parts. First, you are charged an access fee by your phone company. Then, you are charged a service fee that is set by the organisation you are calling.
The access fee, which goes to your phone providers, ranges from 8p to 67p depending on the company.
The service fee varies depending on the company you call and they can cost up to £3.65 per 90 seconds of call time, so it is worth researching to find the cheapest option. The service charge must be clearly displayed wherever the phone number is advertised or promoted.
Once the operator has found the number you are looking for, they will then offer to connect you for an additional charge, which varies depending on the service. Some may charge a one-off fee of around £2.50, while others will charge a per minute rate of around 70p.
Once you have been given the number by the operator, it is usually best to write it down and call it yourself. If they connect you, you will then pay the standard rate of making the call and the additional charge.
999, 111, 112, 119, 101 and 105 numbers: Emergency services, NHS, and power lines
Emergency services, NHS, and power lines are free to call from all phones.
999 and 112 are for emergency police, fire, ambulance, and mountain rescue.
111 is for NHS non-emergency advice.
119 is for NHS advice relating to Covid-19.
101 is for non-emergency police calls.
105 is the number to call if you have suffered a power cut.
123 number: Talking clock
If you dial 123 you will be directed to the talking clock that will tell you the exact time as per the Greenwich Meridian.
You can only call the speaking clock if you’re a BT or EE customer.
- 50p from a BT landline - this is the cost of the whole call
- 40p a minute from an EE pay-as-you-go mobile.
0500 numbers: Discontinued freephone
0500 numbers were discontinued in 2017.
They used to be used as a freephone number for organisations providing services, sales, enquiries, and helplines. They were similar to 0800 numbers.