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Making Calls to Mobile Phones

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 24 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Calls to mobile phones are nowhere near as expensive as they were when cellphones first came out but there is still a significant difference between calling a mobile and an ordinary phone (known as a 'landline'). Taking the bewildering array of special deals and tariffs out of the equation, an ordinary rate call to a mobile phone will usually be between two to four times the rate of a call to a landline from the same provider. And mobile numbers often won’t be included in any special offer such as free calls at evenings and weekends.

Cutting Down is the First Step

The best way around this, if you're trying to cut down on phone bills, is not to call mobile phone numbers, but increasingly it's harder to do that. Young people in particular they may have no landline, for example students or young working people who are sharing a house. Often there won’t be a landline as no-one wants to get stuck with the bill, and each person has their own mobile anyway, so there's no need for a landline. Small businesses will also sometimes only advertise a mobile number as people get more used to dialling them and less resistant to the extra cost.

So if you are in a situation where you have to make quite a number of calls to people on mobile phones, there are a number of ways that you can cut down on the cost. One simple way is to use your mobile to call them, even though you are at home. If you have a contract phone and cross-network calls are included in your free minutes, then use those minutes to call, since you'll be paying for them anyway.

Call Back Pact

Another neat trick, if it’s family of friends you are needing to call, is to have a pact with each other. You agree that if one of you has to call the other on a mobile phone from home, you put the phone down and call them back. For someone on a mobile phone to call a landline is usually a lot cheaper than the other way round, particularly if they have free minutes left on a contract.

But for just pure cheaper calls, there are a number of services that you can sign up to. These services use the commodity nature of telephone capacity: it is something that is bought and sold on an open market just like coffee or oil. The companies then offer the lines to consumers at a low rate, one that still makes them a small profit, but is usually around half the normal rate as BT's ordinary tariff for calls to mobiles.

Non-Account Options

There are essentially two types of service and for the first, you don't need to open an account with the supplier in order to use them. You simply dial an access number, usually an 0844 or 0845 number, which will be charged at local rate or another similar rate. Then when you get a dial tone you dial the number you need, and you are only charged for the call to the 0844 or 0845 number.

The downside of this method is that if the person who are trying to get hold of is engaged or not available, then you still have to pay for the call to find that out. Also the quality of the call can sometimes be poor, if the lines are very busy, but this happens much less frequently these days and the call is to a mobile phone anyway, so you're not going to be expecting great quality.

Account Based Services

The second type of service uses a prefix that is dialled before each number, the best known being 18185. You have to sign up before you use the account and they will only take direct debit customers. Then when you need to call a mobile (or perhaps an international number) you dial the prefix and that tells the local exchange to route the number over that company's network instead of the usual one. You keep your existing phone number and service with your usual provider and get a separate bill for the calls to the numbers you prefixed with their number.

So in summary, cut down on calls to mobiles in the first place but then use cheaper services for those times when you can't avoid it. A quick google will lead you to a number of different service providers and looking for 'uk call checker' will chow you websites which monitor each company's rates to tell you which are the cheapest at any one time.

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