Don't call anyone at Christmas

BT has announced a five per cent increase to its landline charges and call costs from December 2011
Hot on the heels of price rises from the energy majors, supermarkets, clothes shops and more, BT has added to households’ woes by announcing it is hiking its landline charges and call costs.

The phone giant - which reported a 71 per cent increase in profits to £1.7 billion in May - will make landline costs on one its most popular tariffs 5 per cent more expensive, at £14.60 a month, from December. All its call charges will also increase by the same amount - pushing the cost of connecting a call up to 13.1p. It means the cost of making a landline call with BT has risen by more than 45 per cent since 1 April 2010.

So how to save money? For customers keen to stick with BT, one package exempted from the price rises and worth considering is the Line Rental Saver deal, which allows customers to pre-buy their annual landline fees for £120. BT says that would save more than £50 per year.

For those willing to switch providers, Primus’ Line Rental Saver deal is available for £6.79/month to customers who sign-up for a year via comparison site Homephonechoices.co.uk, or £7.99 with evening and weekend calls.

By contrast, BT’s standard line rental is £13.90 per month - which will rise to £14.60 from December. BT also offers free calls to UK landlines at weekends. Primus’s non-inclusive calls cost 1p/min off peak, or 6p/min during the daytime on weekdays , plus a 11p connection charge for each call.

Households who make a lot of calls to mobiles might consider the Post Office’s basic Home Phone package, costing £12.25/month for evening and weekend calls, and weekend calls to mobiles as well as 40 international destinations including the US, Spain, Australia and South Africa.

Other quick ways to save pennies include: paying by direct debit; signing up to free internet telephone providers like Skype and Google Chat, where you can talk to other users, anywhere in the world, for free, and timing calls during the off-peak period (with BT and TalkTalk it’s 7pm to 7am.

Be aware that even “unlimited” call packages usually cap free calls at an hour, so after then, put the phone down and re-dial. Avoid calling expensive numbers like 0870 (although these are free for BT and TalkTalk customers) by finding alternatives at the saynoto0870.com website. And if you’re calling abroad, find a cheap pre-dial number to cut the cost at callchecker.moneysavingexpert.com.

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