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Which provider has the cheapest phone line?

Tuesday, August 22nd 2017

Phone lines can vary considerably in cost so it's worth shopping around to find the best deal. It’s possible to switch and get a far cheaper phone line, whether you want a standalone home phone plan or bundled together with broadband.

We’ll show which providers offer the cheapest line rental, plus tips on how to reduce the cost of your current home phone plan. And if you’re on benefits and struggling with a low income or poor credit history, we’ll show you how BT Basic can get you connected for even less.

The Post Office

If you want to pay for your phone plan by monthly direct debit, the Post Office offers one of the cheapest phone lines, charging just £16.99. Alternatively, if you are able to pay for a year upfront, its great value line rental saver plan costs £179.88, and cuts the equivalent monthly cost to just £14.99. There are also options to add evening calls, anytime calls, international calls and inclusive mobile minutes.

Inclusive landline calls Unlimited weekend
Standard landline calls 12p per minute
Anytime mobile calls 14p per minute
Minimum contract 12 months
Monthly cost £16.99 (Payable annually at £179.88)
  See deal →
Inclusive landline calls
Unlimited weekend
Standard landline calls
12p per minute
Anytime mobile calls
14p per minute
Minimum contract
12 months
Monthly cost
£16.99 (Payable annually at £179.88)

After 12 months, your line rental will be charged at the standard cost (£16.99), unless you opt to renew the saver plan. Post Office operates a 60-minute inclusive call limit, so you’ll have to hang up and redial if you want to chat longer to keep your calls free.

SSE Broadband

If you want to pay for your phone plan by monthly direct debit, SSE is currently one of the cheapest on the market, at just £18 per month. This includes £2 for weekend calls and £16 for line rental.

Inclusive landline calls Weekend calls
Standard landline calls 9p per minute
Anytime mobile calls 12p per minute
Minimum contract 18 months
Monthly cost £18 including £16 line rental
See deal →
Inclusive landline calls
Weekend calls
Standard landline calls
9p per minute
Anytime mobile calls
12p per minute
Minimum contract
18 months
Monthly cost
£18 including £16 line rental

The package includes unlimited weekend calls (at a cost of £2), with a call duration limit of 60 minutes – you can always hang up and redial if you need to keep talking. You’ll incur standard call rates outside of the call plan and variable rates for calling mobiles at any time (depending on the network), plus a set-up fee of 15p per call.

BT Basic

Low-income benefit claimants struggling to pay line rental or unable to take out a regular plan due to poor credit can find solace with BT Basic. Anyone that claims Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pensions Credit, Employment Support Allowance (income-related) or Universal Credit (and are on zero earnings) should be eligible. 

Inclusive landline calls Up to £1.50 per month
Standard landline calls 11.3p per minute
Anytime mobile calls 12p per minute
Minimum contract 12 months
Monthly cost
  See deal →
Inclusive landline calls
Up to £1.50 per month
Standard landline calls
11.3p per minute
Anytime mobile calls
12p per minute
Minimum contract
12 months
Monthly cost
£5.10

The £5.10 monthly fee includes £1.50 that can be spent on calls. If you exceed this, the standard rates outlined in the table above apply, plus a 3.3p set-up fee per call. Those in receipt of benefits can also apply for the BT Basic + Broadband plan, which gives 12GB of monthly internet usage for £9.95 per month including line rental.

How to reduce the cost of your phone line

If you don’t fancy switching to a new provider, there’s still a handful of ways to cut the cost of your existing plan. Line rental alone now averages around £17 per month, but extras can soon increase the cost to over £25 if you're not careful. Here’s how to cut back and save.

Use direct debit and e-billing

Paying on receipt of a bill each month can incur a charge of around £5 with some providers, so switch to direct debit to avoid it. Switching to receive your bills via email instead of through the post could save you a further £2 per month, as most providers charge to cover postage costs.

Ditch calling features or downgrade your package

Look over your bill and cancel any calling features you don’t need. Options like caller ID, call waiting and call divert rarely come free and you could easily be paying a few pounds extra each month for services you don't use.

Review your regular calls and see if you can downgrade to a cheaper or free plan. Weekend calls are generally included free with line rental, but more inclusive call plans like evening and weekend, anytime or international cost extra. On the flip side, if you make a lot of calls then an inclusive call plan can save you hundreds of pounds.

Use your mobile

If you’ve got a mobile with a generous call allowance, it makes sense to use your minutes wherever possible, particularly if you get free calls to other numbers on the same network.

Consider internet calling

Internet calling (also known as VoIP: voice-over-internet-protocol) is an inexpensive way to keep in touch. Services such as Skype and Vonage allow you to call UK and international numbers at very reasonable rates using your broadband connection, if you have one.

Broadband and phone packages

If you want broadband, you will automatically get a phone line. The only exception to this is Virgin Media: you can choose to have broadband without a phone line, but the pricing is such that you won't save any money by going without.

The deals below represent the best value basic standard broadband and home phone plans on the market at the moment. The broadband costs are discounted for a limited period, so look at the full price to ensure the plans are still within your budget when the offers end.

  • Direct Save Broadband Unlimited Plus + Calls

    Direct Save
    • Pay 1st month's bill today
    • Free budget-range router
    • Pay for the calls you use
    £17 .95
    £8.95 set-up cost includes line rental See Deal
  • First Utility First Broadband

    First Utility
    • Pay nothing today
    • Free wireless router
    £18 .99
    Zero set-up cost includes line rental See Deal
  • Post Office Unlimited Broadband + Calls

    Post Office
    • Pay nothing today
    • Weekend calls
    • Free Wi-Fi router
    £19
    £7 set-up cost includes line rental See Deal
Sky
Broadband usage
Unlimited
Broadband speed
Up to 17Mbps
Inclusive calls
Weekend
Line rental
£18.50 per month
Broadband cost from
£21 p/m
The Post Office
Broadband usage
10GB
Broadband speed
Up to 17Mbps
Inclusive calls
Weekend
Line rental
£16.99 per month
Broadband cost from
£19 p/m
Plusnet
Broadband usage
20GB
Broadband speed
Up to 17Mbps
Inclusive calls
Weekend
Line rental
£15.50 per month
Broadband cost from
£22.50 p/m

Broadband without line rental

You can get broadband without having to pay line rental, but the options are limited. The vast majority of broadband providers require customers to take a joint internet and line rental plan.

The one major exception is Virgin Media, which offers broadband-only deals. Its three fibre broadband packages are available with or without a phone line, since it has its own fibre network and does not rely on BT’s infrastructure like all other mainstream providers.

Satellite broadband is an option

Another option is Tooway – a satellite broadband provider that specialises in delivering internet access to those in rural locations. It’s available to everyone however, and the satellite delivery method avoids the need for a phone line.

Compare broadband without a phone line →

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