Call charges can be confusing, especially when you are charged by at least two different parties (providers) for a single call. This page aims to clarify what all the charges mean, which part of the price is presented on this website, where does your money go and how are you charged. Below, you'll find several topics which provide useful information about providers and explains their prices (call rates), tariffs or charges.
All providers listed here are offering cheap telephone calls from fixed UK landline to landline and mobile in another country or UK (sometimes it's cheaper to call another UK number this way). All providers, compared on this site, offer cheap calls by means of providing fixed line access numbers which need to be dialled prior to dialling the actual phone number you wish to call. All mentioned providers do not require any subscription or a contract, just dial access number and then your destination number. There are other ways to call abroad, however this site currently only compares no-subscription access number kind of cheap call providers. Note that, although the access numbers presented here will also work for mobile phones, they are more good value for calls made from a fixed landline. There are other cheap call providers that optimise for calls from a mobile. Usually they require some form of subscription or initial set up.
In brief, Ofcom splits the cost of the call into two parts, access charge and service charge (see Ofcom article). Prices compared on Call Rates Scanner website are service charge prices levied by cheap calls providers. The price that you are likely to pay is a combination of service charge and access charge. The latter is levied by your phone line provider. Thus, when you look at the call rates, you also need to add an access charge. More on this below.
Call Rates Scanner does not get a penny from any of the calls that you make. This is a comparison site - it simply compares cheap call providers and presents the cheapest prices and access numbers to use for calling abroad. The access numbers presented in the table, are access numbers that are owned (leased) by respective cheap call providers, who charge you for making a call, according to the prices stated.
Most of the access numbers offered by different providers are premium numbers that charge varied amount per minute. All providers, compared here, make money when you make a call. The phone line, from which you make a call, is charged an amount per minute stated, that is, any calls using access numbers will be billed by your usual telephone service operator to the account holder for that line. Please obtain permission from that account holder before using our service.
The call charge starts from the moment you connect to the access number and not the moment you connect to your destination number, so please have your destination number handy, since dialling it slowly results in additional cost. In other words, if, after connecting to access number, it takes you minute to dial the destination number and then minute to wait for someone to pick up the phone then you already spent two minutes without even talking to anyone. If you hang up before someone picks up the phone, you will still be charged those 2 minutes. And that's not all you may be charged.
Part of the money charged is retained by the telephone operator (such as BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Virgin, etc) and the rest goes to a cheap call provider. There is also a connection fee that is charged by the telephone operator (BT, TalkTalk, Sky, Virgin, etc), and not a cheap calls provider. This fee varies depending on such factors as telephone operators of your landline (BT, Talk Talk, Sky, Virgin, etc), their call plans, type of an access number called (e.g. starting with 0870 or 0845 or 0911, and so on). For example, as of January 2015, BT charges 15.97p connection fee (set-up fee), Sky charges 15.9p, Virgin charges 17.5p, whereas TalkTalk charges 16p.
Some access numbers presented are either free phone numbers or geographical numbers (e.g. those that start with 01 and 02), in which case the call you make is absolutely free if you have inclusive minutes with your telephone operator. However, be careful as some "free" numbers are not free, for example 0800. Please check with your telephone operator the cost of a call and connection fee for the given telephone access number.
To summarise, if you make a call using 5p/min access number and it takes you 1 minute to dial your destination number, after which you wait for someone to pick up the phone for another minute before giving up - you may be charged 16p + 5p + 5p = 26p just for trying. On the other hand, if you do the same but manage to talk to someone on the other end for 5 minutes, then you will be charged 16p + 5p + 5p + 5x5p = 51p for 5 minute call (which works out as 10p/min). On the contrast, if you do the same using BT line directly, it should cost you nothing to try, but the moment someone picks up the phone you'll be charged 16p. Say BT charges 25p per minute to call the same destination and you also talk for 5 minutes, then you will be charged 16p + 25x5p = 141p (which works out as 28.2p/min).
So all these access number cheap call services are better value if you manage to talk to some one on the other end, and if you talk longer per call rather than make many short calls. Bare in mind, when comparing prices with telephone operators, is that you will be charged a connection fee in both cases, calling directly or via access number, unless you have a call plan with your telephone operator which includes certain numbers or free minutes. Overall it is still cheaper to use access numbers to call abroad and we hope that you now have a better understanding of the nature of your call charges.
Call charges can be confusing. Section How much are you charged to make a call and by whom? explains how each charge is divided in two parts which you pay to your landline provider and the cheap international call provider (the holder of 08 or 09 access number which you dial prior to dialing your destination number). Call Rates Scanner does not charge you anything. This is a free comparison site - it simply compares cheap call providers and aims to present the cheapest prices and access numbers.
Who pays for numbers that are included in your call plan package? Ultimately you do. You are probably paying an additional monthly charge for inclusive minutes package or you were offered a deal tha bundles other things and throws in unlimited minutes to all or some of these numbers: 01, 02, 03, 0845, 0870. Once you payed for the package, the calls are truly free. Normally, you are not charged either service charge or access charge of the call you make. This is a subject to several legal points (calls must not last longer than 59 minutes, fair usage policy applies, etc.). However the basic answer is that calls to access numbers that start with 01, 02, 03, 0845, 0870 are completely free for subscribers of the package. Most landline providers (and some mobile line providers) offer two packages: inclusive calls to national numbers (01, 02, 03) and inclusive calls to national and premium numbers (01, 02, 03 and 0845, 0870), the latter may also be called service numbers.
Careful, there is an increasing number of landline providers who try to exclude 0845 and 0870 access numbers from their "inclusive minutes calling plan" if they discover that the number is one of the cheap calls abroad (or dial through) access numbers. For example, BT has a clause in their calling plan, saying that the plan excludes "calls to dial-up internet, calling card and dial-through access numbers". The reality, however, is that they don't keep track of such numbers and cheap calls providers regularly rotate the numbers. Thus, this clause is more a get out of binding contract in order to charge the user, if they can prove that this 0845 or 0870 number was used as dial-through access number. This means that you have to be aware that you may be charged full price by your landline or mobile phone provider for those numbers.
If you like to find out how much is the full price for various 0845 or 0870 number or assume that they will be free with your calling plan, you can optimise the search on the main page (or country specific page) for inclusive numbers or remove the search optimisation. For more information on how to do this, please refer to section How to make free calls with inclusive minutes to 01, 02, 03, 0845, 0870 access numbers?