Being able to call friends and family on landline phones is something that's easy to take for granted, but if you're not careful the cost of home phone calls can soon add up - particularly once you factor in landline rental.
However, switching home phone deals is really straight forward and definitely worth doing.
Here's how to compare home phone providers, to make sure you get the best landline deal so you don't pay more than you need too.
Work out how you use your phone
Choosing the best landline tariff for your needs will only be possible if you work out how you and the people you live with use your home phone.
Before you compare home phone deals you'll need to consider when you're most likely to make phone calls, who you are going to call and for how long.
The easiest way to work this out is by looking through your last few home phone bills to see when you've made most of your calls and who they were too.
When do you make calls?
When you're most likely to make calls from your landline phone will determine which home phone deals will save you the most money.
Calls during standard office hours are more expensive than those made at evenings or weekends, so many landline providers include unlimited off-peak calls with their cheaper packages but make you pay more for packages that include unlimited landline calls at anytime.
If you only make calls at evenings and weekends then opting for a package which includes anytime calls will mean that you are paying to use the phone during the day (when calls are more expensive) unnecessarily.
The main types of landline phone deals are:
Anytime: These tend to include unlimited calls to local and national UK landline numbers any time, any day of the week.
Evening & weekend: These tend to include unlimited calls to local and national UK landline numbers during the evening and over the weekend only.
Weekend: These tend to include unlimited calls to local and national UK landline numbers made over the weekend only.
It's worth noting that the calls you can make as part of your landline tariff are likely to be capped in length. Many providers set the maximum inclusive call time at an hour, so if you want to chat for longer you'll need to hang up and dial again if you don't want to get charged.
Before you start looking at the deals available you should look at when you tend to be at home and most use your landline to make calls and choose a package that reflects this.
When is peak time?
If you decided you want a tariff that includes evening or weekend calls only, you will need to check exactly when the off-peak period starts and ends.
Some home phone providers consider 6am-6pm to be the peak period while others use 7am-7pm.
Knowing exactly when your off peak period (the time that you can make calls without paying any extra on top of your tariff) runs could save you quite a bit over the course of a month as you'll be able to time your calls accordingly.
Who will you call?
Apart from establishing when you will use your home phone, thinking about who you are likely to call can help you choose the best home phone deals.
If you plan on making calls to mobile phones or international numbers on a regular basis then you may want to look at deals that include these calls in their monthly talk plans.
Equally if you only want your landline to call other UK home phones then there would be little benefit to paying for international calls you are unlikely to use.
Look at your bills and you should be able to get a clear idea of what type of numbers you've been calling so you can look for the lowest cost package that fits.
What extras do you need?
Before you start comparing your options you need to consider whether there are any additional landline features that you just can't do without. Here are the main extras on offer:
Voicemail:Many landline deal providers give you free access to the 1571 voicemail service as part of their standard package offering so this is something to double check if you use it.
Call waiting: This feature will let you know that someone else is trying to call you while you are on the phone to another caller. It's likely to come at a cost so if it's something you feel you can't do without you'll need to factor this into your cheapest provider comparison.
Call barring allows you to restrict the type of calls made from your landline. This means you can put a stop on calls to international numbers or premium rate lines to ensure that you stay in control of your phone bill. Again, this is likely to incur a monthly charge but it may be worth the extra cost if you have children who like to use the phone.
This works by automatically transferring incoming calls to another landline or mobile phone. Essentially this means that you can receive your incoming home telephone calls on the move by getting them diverted to your mobile. This feature is unlikely to be included as a standard landline phone service, so you will need to weigh up the cost with how useful you would find the service.
If you want to know exactly who is calling before you pick up then caller display or caller ID can be a really useful feature. If you add this extra to your call package then your phone will display the mobile or landline number when you receive a call (providing it has a screen to do so). Caller display does cost extra on certain talk plans but some providers included it as an added extra free of charge so double check when you're comparing your options.
Ring back:The ring back service works by auto-dialling a number that you've previously tried to call once the number is no longer engaged. Most providers charge extra for this feature and this can either be a fee every time you use the service, or a fixed monthly fee so you need to check before you commit.
Once you know what you need from you landline phone service you can start to compare the cost and features included with the different deals available so you find the cheapest landline package that meets your needs.
You'll need to consider:
Line rental: This is the standard monthly charge that covers the cost of your phone line. The exact amount will differ from provider to provider but tends to be the same across packages with the same provider so it's important to take it into consideration. Securing a cheap line rental landline deal can make a big difference the amount you'll pay overall.
Monthly cost: You'll need to compare the monthly cost of any landline deals you're interested in - this will be in addition to the cost of line rental each month.
Total cost: This is the most important cost figure to look at when you're comparing your options as it will reveal how much you'll need to pay in total each month.
Package benefits: You'll need to check exactly what types of calls are included free with the package and whether these are local, UK national, international and/or mobile.
Extra call costs: You'll also need to check the cost of calls that you'll be charged for and take this into the equation when you're working out which home phone deal comes in cheaper.
Contract length: Many telephone providers will offer better deals if you are willing to tie into a contract for a fixed number of months. 12 or 18 month contracts are fairly standard but shorter tie-ins are available so you'll need to decide which option you'd prefer.
Connection charges: If you have an existing landline in place then changing providers should be relatively straightforward. However if you need to have a new line installed in your property then you will need to check what fees you would be expected to pay and include them when comparing cheap landline deals.
How you have to pay: Some of the cheapest landline deals are only available if you pay in a certain way - usually by direct debit. Make sure you are happy with the way you'll be expected to pay before you look at signing up to any landline phone deals.
You should go with the landline deal that charges the lowest total monthly cost (the cheapest landline rental plus package charges) for the inclusive calls and package benefits that you need.
Once you've found the best landline phone deals that suits then you simply need to apply direct with the provider and they'll initiate the switching process. It's likely that you'll be able to keep your phone number too.
Do make sure that you check whether you would be penalised for switching to another deal by your existing landline provider first though.
If you will be charged for switching deals then you'll need to factor the cost of the penalty into your calculations to see whether sticking with your current provider until the end of your deal is actually the cheapest landline option.
However, if you've managed to find that the best landline deal that charges you significantly less than your current home phone provider it's quite possible that you'll save by switching, even once you take the penalty into consideration..
Better bundled with other utilities?
If you have broadband or digital TV at home then you should look at whether you could cut costs further by bundling all three together in a single package.
However, if you decide to do this, make sure that you check all the areas listed above to ensure you get a landline phone service that meets your needs.
Take a look at our TV, Phone and Broadband comparison table to see how the cost of a bundle compares with that of a standalone landlines deal.