The hidden cost of a telephone number

Written by Nicky Walker - Senior Marketing Developer
1st August 2017 
Phone bill

A lot has changed in the telecoms industry recently and will no doubt continue to change so please be aware that the figures and costs quoted below are correct as of July 2017*, they may not still be accurate if you are reading this whilst whizzing about on your hover board in 2037.

Which telephone numbers will cost a lot and which ones won’t cost you a penny?

With so many types of telephone prefixes floating about these days it can be hard to keep track of which ones are “premium rate”, which ones are free and which ones cost the same as calling your Auntie Anne at the bottom of the street.

I’ve decided in this guide to break it down into number types rather than individual prefixes although in many sections I have given plenty of prefix examples both in the title and in the description. If there is a specific prefix you are looking for then please press “Ctrl +F” on your keyboard to search the page, there is a huge list of UK area codes at the very bottom of the page and also some quick links to the right of here.

I’ve also added a little £££ sign to highlight the real stingers out there.

Geographic 01 and 02 numbers

£ £ £ £ £
I’m starting with these as they are still the most recognisable in the UK, basically if the number you are dialling starts with 01 or 02 then it is classed as a geographic number and you will only ever be charged as such by your telecoms provider, there’s no sneaky way of getting additional charges pushed back onto the caller with these type of calls.

Most providers (landline and mobile) offer packages that have inclusive geographic numbers but if you’re not on such a package then expect to pay up to 13p per minute from a landline and between 3p and 55p from a mobile. It is worth noting that inclusive allowances usually omit calls to landline numbers in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man. You might also be charged a call set-up fee so check the terms and conditions with your telecoms provider if in doubt.

Click here to view a full list of area codes for 01 and 02 numbers

Non-geographic UK-wide 03 numbers

£ £ £ £ £
These numbers are aimed mainly at UK businesses and organisations that wish to have one number that anyone from Aberdeen to Aberystwyth to Ashford can call and be charged no more than a call to a 01 or 02 geographic number. So the Connect telephone number 0330 3333 777 will cost you the same to dial as call to Edinburgh (0131), Manchester (0161), London (020) or any other 01 or 02 number.

As with geographic 01 and 02 numbers, the 03 prefix is frequently included in packages and bundles with x-amount of monthly inclusive minutes.

Numbers starting 03 are all charged at the same rate but are broken into four usage categories:

  • 030 – reserved for public services, charities and healthcare organisations (see next section)
  • 033 – can be used by any organisation
  • 034 – reserved for migration from the exactly matching 084 number
  • 037 – reserved for migration from the exactly matching 087 number.

Not-for-profit 030 numbers

£ £ £ £ £
As with the above 03 numbers, these are for UK not-for-profit charities and public bodies that wish to have one number nationally. Again, costs should be the same to dial as a 01 or 02 number and they are usually included in packages and bundles with x-amount of inclusive monthly minutes.

Freephone 0800 and 0808 numbers

£ £ £ £ £
Does pretty much what it says on the tin, 0800 and 0808 numbers are free for the caller as the business or organisation you are calling picks up the tab. 0500 numbers also used to be free to call but this range was withdrawn in June 2017.

Mobile numbers 071 to 075 and 077 to 079

£ £ £ £ £
The reason I have not simply put “07” in the description above is that I want to draw your eye to the fact I am not talking about “070” numbers (see the next section titled “Personal numbers”).

Calls to 071 to 075 and 077 to 079 (mobile numbers) vary hugely depending on whether you are calling from a landline or mobile and who your provider is. Again, certainly with mobile packages, you will find that many providers offer inclusive minutes but in general calls can cost anywhere from 10p to 20p from a landline and from 3p all the way up to 55p from a mobile. Most landline providers now offer inclusive calls to UK mobile numbers, at the time of writing, BT is the only large provider to not offer this. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, if in doubt ask your provider.

What about 076 numbers?

076 prefix numbers are not mobile numbers, 076 is used for pagers (does anyone aside from doctors still use pagers?) with one oddity being 07624 which is one of the Isle of Man mobile number ranges. Whilst we are on that geographic subject, please note that where inclusive allowances cover mobile numbers they usually omit mobile numbers in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

Personal numbers beginning 070

£ £ £ £ £
OK, this is when we start to see some sneaky charging going on. At first glance a telephone number that starts 070 probably looks like a normal mobile number but wait…..

It’s a premium rate number, if you call a 070 number from a landline it can cost you up to £3.40 per minute! From a mobile the cost can be up to £2.50 per minute. So be warned, 070 numbers are not mobile numbers and personally I’m amazed that OFCOM allow them to exist.

084 and 087 numbers

£ £ £ £ £
I’m sure someone at OFCOM will disagree with me vehemently here but I’m grouping 084 and 087 numbers together as basically you could spend half a day working out how much you will be charged to use them. Calls to 0843, 0844, 0845 and 087 numbers are made up of 2 legs/charges:

  1. leg/charge: is called an access charge which is set by your telecoms provider and can be 2p to 13p per minute from landlines or 3p to 55p per minute from mobiles.
  2. leg/charge: is the service charge which is set by the business or organisation you are calling. This part can be up to 7p per call or per minute for 084 numbers or up to 13p per call or per minute for 087 numbers.

Back to the first part of the leg, the access charge, I can’t tell you how much this will be as it’s set by each individual provider differently. So BT, 02, SKY, TalkTalk, Virgin Media etc set this part of the leg, as a guide BT currently charge 12p per minute for their access charge so add that to whatever the business you are calling is charging and you might get your final figure- good luck.

087 numbers with a Service Charge of more than 7p per call or per minute are defined as Controlled Premium Rate Services (CPRS) and subject to additional regulation by the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA).

I see frequent examples of this still happening but usage of 084 and 087 numbers is now banned for post-sales helplines for retailers, traders and passenger transport companies. They are also not allowed for financial services or public services.

All remaining users of 084 and 087 numbers (and 09 and 118 numbers for that matter) are required to state the call charges immediately alongside the number, wherever the number is advertised or promoted.

My preferred option when calling an 084 or 087 number is not to, I go to the website www.saynoto0870.com which has a huge database of alternate numbers some of which are even freephone to get through to the same place.

Premium rate 09 numbers

£ £ £ £ £
Similar to the way that 084 and 087 numbers are broken down into two parts, 09 numbers charging also consist of the access charge and service charge, however, we are now into the land of some serious money-making by the owner(s) of the number you are calling and the charges are far, far higher than that of 084 numbers.

As the cost of calling these numbers is again broken up into 2 parts it’s very hard to tell you what you will be paying but basically, without putting to fine a point on it, lots. The access charge is from your phone company so you could be talking anything from 2p to 13p per minute from landlines or 3p to 55p per minute from mobiles, the real cost is from the service charge though. This can range from anywhere from 1p (I don’t believe anyone has ever charged this low but clearly I’m very cynical!) to £3.60 per minute and you could also be charged a set-up fee of up to £6.00 for each call.

Unlike 084 and 087 numbers, 09 premium rate numbers are regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA).

Services of social value 116 numbers

£ £ £ £ £
I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of this prefix before I started researching for this post but the long and short of it is that they are free from anywhere in the European Union.

Click here to read more about them but they are very much social welfare lines such as 116000 which is for missing children and this number can be called for free regardless of where you are in the EU. Other 116 numbers in service in UK are:

  • 116111 – Childline (runs in parallel with their 0800 1111 number)
  • 116123 – Samaritans

While 116 numbers are available throughout the EU, calling one of these numbers connects to the service that runs in the country you are calling from.

Directory enquiry numbers 118

£ £ £ £ £
Here we come to the real big money and also the reason how I came about writing this post.

A couple of days ago I was walking back from the school-run with my friend when he pulled out this fun fact about the cost of calling a 118118 number:

How much do you think a 3 minute call to 118118 where you are transferred through to the business costs?” he asked,

£9.99” I said, deliberately pitching it high,

not even close, £18.32” he said quite smugly.

I didn’t believe him, no way could a 3 minute call to directory enquiries cost that much so I did some research and yes, yes he was right – £18.32!

I could go deep into how these numbers are charged but Ben Salisbury wrote an excellent piece for MoneySavingExpert.com which you can read by clicking here. 118 numbers usually have a connection charge which can be up to around £7 and then a charge per minute of around £3.60 but these are not the maximum charges. 118 numbers are regulated by the Phone-paid Services Authority and so long as the charges are clearly advertised then anything goes.

All 01 and 02 area code prefixes

Click here to view a full list of area codes for 01 and 02 numbers
Prefix Area covered
0113 Leeds
0114 Sheffield
0115 Nottingham
0116 Leicester
0117 Bristol
0118 Reading
01200 Clitheroe
01202 Bournemouth
01204 Bolton
01205 Boston
01206 Colchester
01207 Consett
01208 Bodmin
01209 Redruth
0121 Birmingham
01223 Cambridge
01224 Aberdeen
01225 Bath
01226 Barnsley
01227 Canterbury
01228 Carlisle
01229 Barrow-in Furness / Millom
01233 Ashford (Kent)
01234 Bedford
01235 Abingdon
01236 Coatbridge
01237 Bideford
01239 Cardigan
01241 Arbroath
01242 Cheltenham
01243 Chichester
01244 Chester
01245 Chelmsford
01246 Chesterfield
01248 Bangor (Gwynedd)
01249 Chippenham
01250 Blairgowrie
01252 Aldershot
01253 Blackpool
01254 Blackburn
01255 Clacton-on-Sea
01256 Basingstoke
01257 Coppull
01258 Blandford
01259 Alloa
01260 Congleton
01261 Banff
01262 Bridlington
01263 Cromer
01264 Andover
01267 Carmarthen
01268 Basildon
01269 Ammanford
01270 Crewe
01271 Barnstaple
01273 Brighton
01274 Bradford
01275 Clevedon
01276 Camberley
01277 Brentwood
01278 Bridgwater
01279 Bishops Stortford
01280 Buckingham
01282 Burnley
01283 Burton-on-Trent
01284 Bury-St-Edmunds
01285 Cirencester
01286 Caernarfon
01287 Guisborough
01288 Bude
01289 Berwick-on-Tweed
01290 Cumnock
01291 Chepstow
01292 Ayr
01293 Crawley
01294 Ardrossan
01295 Banbury
01296 Aylesbury
01297 Axminster
01298 Buxton
01299 Bewdley
01300 Cerne Abbas
01301 Arrochar
01302 Doncaster
01303 Folkestone
01304 Dover
01305 Dorchester
01306 Dorking
01307 Forfar
01308 Bridport
01309 Forres
0131 Edinburgh
01320 Fort Augustus
01322 Dartford
01323 Eastbourne
01324 Falkirk
01325 Darlington
01326 Falmouth
01327 Daventry
01328 Fakenham
01329 Fareham
01330 Banchory
01332 Derby
01333 Peat Inn
01334 St Andrews
01335 Ashbourne
01337 Ladybank
01339 Aboyne / Ballater
01340 Craigellachie
01341 Barmouth
01342 East Grinstead
01343 Elgin
01344 Bracknell
01346 Fraserburgh
01347 Easingwold
01348 Fishguard
01349 Dingwall
01350 Dunkeld
01352 Mold
01353 Ely
01354 Chatteris
01355 East Kilbride
01356 Brechin
01357 Strathaven
01358 Ellon
01359 Pakenham
01360 Killearn
01361 Duns
01362 Dereham
01363 Crediton
01364 Ashburton
01366 Downham Market
01367 Faringdon
01368 Dunbar
01369 Dunoon
01371 Great Dunmow
01372 Esher
01373 Frome
01375 Grays Thurrock
01376 Braintree
01377 Driffield
01379 Diss
01380 Devizes
01381 Fortrose
01382 Dundee
01383 Dunfermline
01384 Dudley
01386 Evesham
01387 Dumfries
013873 Langholm
01388 Bishop Auckland / Stanhope
01389 Dumbarton
01392 Exeter
01394 Felixstowe
01395 Budleigh Salterton
01397 Fort William
01398 Dulverton
01400 Honington
01403 Horsham
01404 Honiton
01405 Goole
01406 Holbeach
01407 Holyhead
01408 Golspie
01409 Holsworthy
0141 Glasgow
01420 Alton
01422 Halifax
01423 Boroughbridge / Harrogate
01424 Hastings
01425 Ringwood
01427 Gainsborough
01428 Haslemere
01429 Hartlepool
01430 Market Weighton / North Cave
01431 Helmsdale
01432 Hereford
01433 Hathersage
01434 Bellingham / Haltwhistle / Hexham
01435 Heathfield
01436 Helensburgh
01437 Clynderwen / Haverfordwest
01438 Stevenage
01439 Helmsley
01440 Haverhill
01442 Hemel Hempstead
01443 Pontypridd
01444 Haywards Heath
01445 Gairloch
01446 Barry
01449 Stowmarket
01450 Hawick
01451 Stow-on-the-Wold
01452 Gloucester
01453 Dursley
01454 Chipping Sodbury
01455 Hinckley
01456 Glenurquhart
01457 Glossop
01458 Glastonbury
01460 Chard
01461 Gretna
01462 Hitchin
01463 Inverness
01464 Insch
01465 Girvan
01466 Huntly
01467 Inverurie
01469 Killingholme
01470 Isle of Skye – Edinbane
01471 Isle of Skye – Broadford
01472 Grimsby
01473 Ipswich
01474 Gravesend
01475 Greenock
01476 Grantham
01477 Holmes Chapel
01478 Isle of Skye – Portree
01479 Grantown-on-Spey
01480 Huntingdon
01481 Guernsey
01482 Hull
01483 Guildford
01484 Huddersfield
01485 Hunstanton
01487 Warboys
01488 Hungerford
01489 Bishops Waltham
01490 Corwen
01491 Henley-on-Thames
01492 Colwyn Bay
01493 Great Yarmouth
01494 High Wycombe
01495 Pontypool
01496 Port Ellen
01497 Hay-on-Wye
01499 Inveraray
01501 Harthill
01502 Lowestoft
01503 Looe
01505 Johnstone
01506 Bathgate
01507 Alford (Lincs) / Louth / Spilsby
01508 Brooke
01509 Loughborough
0151 Liverpool
01520 Lochcarron
01522 Lincoln
01524 Lancaster
015242 Hornby
01525 Leighton Buzzard
01526 Martin
01527 Redditch
01528 Laggan
01529 Sleaford
01530 Coalville
01531 Ledbury
01534 Jersey
01535 Keighley
01536 Kettering
01538 Ipstones
01539 Kendal
015394 Hawkshead
015395 Grange-Over-Sands
015396 Sedbergh
01540 Kingussie
01542 Keith
01543 Cannock
01544 Kington
01545 Llanarth
01546 Lochgilphead
01547 Knighton
01548 Kingsbridge
01549 Lairg
01550 Llandovery
01553 Kings Lynn
01554 Llanelli
01555 Lanark
01556 Castle Douglas
01557 Kirkcudbright
01558 Llandeilo
01559 Llandysul
01560 Moscow
01561 Laurencekirk
01562 Kidderminster
01563 Kilmarnock
01564 Lapworth
01565 Knutsford
01566 Launceston
01567 Killin
01568 Leominster
01569 Stonehaven
01570 Lampeter
01571 Lochinver
01572 Oakham
01573 Kelso
01575 Kirriemuir
01576 Lockerbie
01577 Kinross
01578 Lauder
01579 Liskeard
01580 Cranbrook
01581 New Luce
01582 Luton
01583 Carradale
01584 Ludlow
01586 Campbeltown
01588 Bishops Castle
01590 Lymington
01591 Llanwrtyd Wells
01592 Kirkcaldy
01593 Lybster
01594 Lydney
01595 Lerwick / Foula / Fair Isle
01597 Llandrindod Wells
01598 Lynton
01599 Kyle
01600 Monmouth
01603 Norwich
01604 Northampton
01606 Northwich
01608 Chipping Norton
01609 Northallerton
0161 Manchester
01620 North Berwick
01621 Maldon
01622 Maidstone
01623 Mansfield
01624 Isle of Man
01625 Macclesfield
01626 Newton Abbot
01628 Maidenhead
01629 Matlock
01630 Market Drayton
01631 Oban
01633 Newport
01634 Medway
01635 Newbury
01636 Newark
01637 Newquay
01638 Newmarket
01639 Neath
01641 Strathy
01642 Middlesbrough
01643 Minehead
01644 New Galloway
01646 Milford Haven
01647 Moretonhampstead
01650 Cemmaes Road
01651 Oldmeldrum
01652 Brigg
01653 Malton
01654 Machynlleth
01655 Maybole
01656 Bridgend
01659 Sanquhar
01661 Prudhoe
01663 New Mills
01664 Melton Mowbray
01665 Alnwick
01666 Malmesbury
01667 Nairn
01668 Bamburgh
01669 Rothbury
01670 Morpeth
01671 Newton Stewart
01672 Marlborough
01673 Market Rasen
01674 Montrose
01675 Coleshill
01676 Meriden
01677 Bedale
01678 Bala
01680 Isle of Mull – Craignure
01681 Isle of Mull – Fionnphort
01683 Moffat
01684 Malvern
01685 Merthyr Tydfil
01686 Llanidloes / Newtown
01687 Mallaig
01688 Isle of Mull – Tobermory
01689 Orpington
01690 Betws-y-Coed
01691 Oswestry
01692 North Walsham
01694 Church Stretton
01695 Skelmersdale
01697 Brampton
016973 Wigton
016974 Raughton Head
016977 Brampton
01698 Motherwell
01700 Rothesay
01702 Southend-on-Sea
01704 Southport
01706 Rochdale
01707 Welwyn Garden City
01708 Romford
01709 Rotherham
01720 Isles of Scilly
01721 Peebles
01722 Salisbury
01723 Scarborough
01724 Scunthorpe
01725 Rockbourne
01726 St Austell
01727 St Albans
01728 Saxmundham
01729 Settle
01730 Petersfield
01732 Sevenoaks
01733 Peterborough
01736 Penzance
01737 Redhill
01738 Perth
01740 Sedgefield
01743 Shrewsbury
01744 St Helens
01745 Rhyl
01746 Bridgnorth
01747 Shaftesbury
01748 Richmond
01749 Shepton Mallet
01750 Selkirk
01751 Pickering
01752 Plymouth
01753 Slough
01754 Skegness
01756 Skipton
01757 Selby
01758 Pwllheli
01759 Pocklington
01760 Swaffham
01761 Temple Cloud
01763 Royston
01764 Crieff
01765 Ripon
01766 Porthmadog
01767 Sandy
01768 Penrith
017683 Appleby
017684 Pooley Bridge
017687 Keswick
01769 South Molton
01770 Isle of Arran
01771 Maud
01772 Preston
01773 Ripley
01775 Spalding
01776 Stranraer
01777 Retford
01778 Bourne
01779 Peterhead
01780 Stamford
01782 Stoke-on-Trent
01784 Staines
01785 Stafford
01786 Stirling
01787 Sudbury
01788 Rugby
01789 Stratford-upon-Avon
01790 Spilsby
01792 Swansea
01793 Swindon
01794 Romsey
01795 Sittingbourne
01796 Pitlochry
01797 Rye
01798 Pulborough
01799 Saffron Walden
01803 Torquay
01805 Torrington
01806 Shetland
01807 Ballindalloch
01808 Tomatin
01809 Tomdoun
01821 Kinrossie
01822 Tavistock
01823 Taunton
01824 Ruthin
01825 Uckfield
01827 Tamworth
01828 Coupar Angus
01829 Tarporley
01830 Kirkwhelpington
01832 Clopton
01833 Barnard Castle
01834 Narberth
01835 St Boswells
01837 Okehampton
01838 Dalmally
01840 Camelford
01841 Newquay
01842 Thetford
01843 Thanet
01844 Thame
01845 Thirsk
01847 Thurso / Tongue
01848 Thornhill
01851 Great Bernera / Stornoway
01852 Kilmelford
01854 Ullapool
01855 Ballachulish
01856 Orkney
01857 Sanday
01858 Market Harborough
01859 Harris
01862 Tain
01863 Ardgay
01864 Abington
01865 Oxford
01866 Kilchrenan
01869 Bicester
01870 Isle of Benbecula
01871 Castlebay
01872 Truro
01873 Abergavenny
01874 Brecon
01875 Tranent
01876 Lochmaddy
01877 Callander
01878 Lochboisdale
01879 Scarinish
01880 Tarbert
01882 Kinloch Rannoch
01883 Caterham
01884 Tiverton
01885 Pencombe
01886 Bromyard
01887 Aberfeldy
01888 Turriff
01889 Rugeley
01890 Ayton / Coldstream
01892 Tunbridge Wells
01895 Uxbridge
01896 Galashiels
01899 Biggar
01900 Workington
01902 Wolverhampton
01903 Worthing
01904 York
01905 Worcester
01908 Milton Keynes
01909 Worksop
0191 Tyneside / Durham / Sunderland
01920 Ware
01922 Walsall
01923 Watford
01924 Wakefield
01925 Warrington
01926 Warwick
01928 Runcorn
01929 Wareham
01931 Shap
01932 Weybridge
01933 Wellingborough
01934 Weston-Super-Mare
01935 Yeovil
01937 Wetherby
01938 Welshpool
01939 Wem
01942 Wigan
01943 Guiseley
01944 West Heslerton
01945 Wisbech
01946 Whitehaven
019467 Gosforth
01947 Whitby
01948 Whitchurch
01949 Whatton
01950 Sandwick
01951 Colonsay
01952 Telford
01953 Wymondham
01954 Madingley
01955 Wick
01957 Mid Yell
01959 Westerham
01962 Winchester
01963 Wincanton
01964 Hornsea / Patrington
01967 Strontian
01968 Penicuik
01969 Leyburn
01970 Aberystwyth
01971 Scourie
01972 Glenborrodale
01974 Llanon
01975 Alford (Aberdeen) / Strathdon
01977 Pontefract
01978 Wrexham
01980 Amesbury
01981 Wormbridge
01982 Builth Wells
01983 Isle of Wight
01984 Watchet
01985 Warminster
01986 Bungay
01987 Ebbsfleet
01988 Wigtown
01989 Ross-on-Wye
01992 Lea Valley
01993 Witney
01994 St Clears
01995 Garstang
01997 Strathpeffer
020 London
023 Southampton / Portsmouth
024 Coventry
028 Northern Ireland
029 Cardiff

*Disclaimer Alert ! – The material and information contained on this post is for general information purposes only. You should not rely upon the above figures as a basis for making any business, legal or any other decisions. The author makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information, products, services or related graphics contained for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such material is therefore strictly at your own risk.

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