One thing everyone hates is being charged for things that they shouldn’t have to pay for. Whether it’s taking money out at a nearby cashpoint or using the toilet in your local train station, paying for stuff you shouldn’t have to isn’t any fun.
Premium rate numbers are an extension of this frustration, not only charging you for making a call in the first place, but also putting on a wallet damaging minute by minute price throughout. We’re not talking the odd couple of pence either, with some premium rate numbers costing you a good amount after a just a fleeting chat.
But what premium rate numbers are there in the UK? How much do UK premium rate calls cost? We’re here to offer you all the information you could ever want about the charges you could face by dialling these digits.
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Premium rate numbers are telephone numbers that charge an extra cost to dial from any kind of telephone – mobile or landline. They often vary in their price and can result in high monthly bills if dialled too frequently or for long periods of time.
They’ve also built a bad reputation for illegal activity, which can have criminals either steal or hack a phone and then have it dial a premium rate number. This can then cost the victim thousands of pounds often before they even realise what’s happening.
Over recent years premium rate numbers in the UK have been dropping in their use, thanks in part to a more knowledgeable general public, but also because of continued clamp downs on these kinds of numbers.
The most common uses for premium rate numbers in the UK include adult services, gambling, competitions, quizzes and directory enquiries. However, you should always be aware of any number you are dialling, especially through your mobile phone - as premium rate phone numbers can still cost you a lot more than expected.
Below you can find a list of premium rate numbers in the UK (and other well-known numbers), with an explanation of what they do and how much they can cost you…
If you’re dialling a UK based landline, then you’ll be dialling a 01 or 02 number, depending on the location. These numbers aren’t premium rate, but will cost up to 45p per minute if you are on a pay as you go tariff. Landlines will be charged up to 12p per minute for dialling these digits.
If you have a contract tariff with your mobile phone, then these calls will be included in your plan, so won’t be charged by a per minute extra (unless you’ve surpassed your minute allowance).
Some UK based companies opt to use 03, 0300 or 0345 numbers instead of paying through the teeth to get their hands on more well-known 0800 numbers. However, unlike 0800 numbers, they carry a small charge for mobile phone and landline users.
Mobile phone users can pay up to 45p per minute on pay as you go, whilst landline phones can be charged up to 12p per minute. Pay monthly mobile tariffs will have these numbers included in their minutes allowance, so will be free of charge unless you pass your tariff limit.
0500 numbers are listed as ‘freephone’, but still draw charges from mobile phone users, up to 40p per minute. They are however, completely free to dial from a landline.
Following the move to abolish ‘freephone’ charges, Ofcom has confirmed that by the end of 2017, 0500 numbers will no longer exist.
07 numbers are the standard offering for UK mobile phones, and aren’t considered premium rate numbers. Every SIM card from the UK has an 07 number attached to it, and can cost up to 45p per minute from pay as you go mobile phones, or 32p per minute from a landline.
Like location based numbers, these are inclusive in pay monthly minutes packages, so no need to worry if you want to dial one on a contract phone or on a deal for your landline.
Sometimes misconstrued as standard mobile phone numbers in the UK as they begin with 07. However, 070 numbers are actually ‘personal numbers’ which receive thousands of complaints a year due to possible fraudulent activity.
The majority of these numbers are used legally, however due to their nature of being connected over VoIP (internet based), they mask the number you could be dialling. This means that you could be dialling a premium rate number without knowing it by connecting through these digits.
Typically, fraudsters will give you a missed call or leave message getting you to call them back via one of these numbers, and can run up bills in excess of £100. Calls can cost up to £1.50 per minute from mobile phones, whilst landlines cost up to 65p per minute with a set-up charge of up to 51p.
You can find more information on 070 numbers through the ActionFraud website.
0800 and 0808 numbers are now completely free of charge to dial from any handset, landline or mobile. Ofcom confirmed the move in 2015, after numerous complaints listing them as ‘freephone’ but still costing mobile users by the minute.
The calls used to cost up to 40p per minute from a mobile phone, but are now completely free.
When you make a call to and 084 number you are charged in two parts, with an access charge defined by your provider (EE, BT etc.) and a service charge that is decided by the company you’re calling. These numbers are listed as business rate, with service charges varying from 0p-7p per minute.
Access charges are chosen by your mobile network or telephone provider, so you’ll need to check with them to confirm the individual price per minute. However, the maximum you’ll pay from a mobile phone is 51p per minute, whilst landlines will pay up to 18p per minute.
These aren’t considered as premium rate numbers, although they can be costly to dial in for long periods of time, depending on your network.
Like 084 numbers, 087 numbers are business rates, managed by a company called PhonePayPlus, and are separated into access and service charges. These charges are defined in the same way as on 084 numbers, but are slightly more expensive.
Landlines can pay up to 24p per minute for calling a 087 number, whilst mobiles can be charged up to 57p per minute. Once again, these aren’t considered premium rate numbers, but can set you back if you’re caught unaware.
09 numbers are the real premium rate numbers you need to look out for, especially if you’re dialling in from a mobile phone. Like business rate numbers, they come with a service and access charge, both of which can prove very expensive.
Service charges can cost up to £3.60 per minute, whilst a one-off charge of up to £6 can also be added. You need to check with your individual provider for your access charge for dialling these numbers.
If you want to ensure that you’re safe from dialling these numbers, you can bar them for your mobile or landline. Typical services that use these numbers include adult lines, TV competitions, chat lines, horoscope lines and more.
These are some of the most expensive numbers you’ll find in the UK, and by spending extended periods of time on these numbers could end up having to pay for a very hefty bill.
118 numbers are more well-known as directory enquiry numbers, but are also worth avoiding if at all possible due to their high costs. Prices can vary, but the maximum you’ll pay is £3.71 per minute from a landline or £4.04 per minute from a mobile, one-off charges can set you back up to £4 as well.
Like 09 numbers, you can speak to your provider to ensure that you can’t dial these numbers from your handset. This can often prove to be a preferred option for many, with other sources of information proving much more cost-effective.
You should consider 118 numbers as premium rate lines, as they can stack up to huge monthly bills if you aren’t careful.
101 is the Police non-emergency number in use in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and should be used when reporting a crime which doesn’t require an emergency response. For example, if you’re reporting property damage or theft (after the crime’s taken place).
You can also call 101 to assist an ongoing investigation with information or for general police enquiries. Calls cost a total of 15p on both mobile phones and landlines, with none of the money going to the UK government (it goes to the network provider for connecting the call).
111 is the NHS non-emergency number in the UK, and should be used if you need fast medical help but it isn’t a 999/112 emergency, think you may need to go to A&E or need information or reassurance about a medical condition. 112 is the common emergency phone number you can dial in many countries for emergency assistance.
Calls to 111 and 112 are completely free on both mobile phones and landlines, where you’ll be connected to a highly trained advisor. From there, they will connect you to the relevant services or help assist you in any way possible.
In some countries, dialling 112 will connect you to the national emergency services, for example if you are in the US and dial 112, you will be connected to the US emergency services number 911 for no charge.
999 is the UK’s emergency services number, and should only be used in emergency situations where a life is in danger, a structure is on fire, a crime is currently being committed or in other extreme circumstances. It’s completely free to use from any handset, similarly to 112.
Once you’ve dialled, you’ll be connected to the service you need, which include the Police, Ambulance Service, Fire Service, Coastguard, Mountain Rescue Service, Cave Rescue Service, Moorland Search and Rescue Service, Quicksand Search and Rescue Service, Mine Rescue Service and Bomb Disposal.
Hoax calls are treated seriously by the Police, any calls that are abandoned (with or without previous communication) are checked by the Police, with action taken against intentional hoaxers or if an emergency is perceived through the abandonment of the call.
The number is also in use in a number of other countries for emergency services.
For more details about the numbers you can dial and the costs you could incur, you can head to the Ofcom website.
Written by Luke Hatfield