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Keeping in touch with home while your live in the UK can be stressful and expensive. But it’s a necessity. It’s a saviour for homesick expats as they dream about golden beaches and grandma’s roast dinners. And in your darkest days in the UK, finding out the footy or Currie Cup scores and hearing your dad tell you how dry it is can be godsend. Even more important, if you need to beg for money, making cheap phone calls is going to save those precious pennies.

For veterans of UK life, staying in touch with home gets easier as you work your way through the barrage of mobile phone deals, familiarise yourself with the Royal Mail’s postal deadlines and discover you don’t need to pay £2 for five minutes at an internet café on Oxford Street.

Home phones

Setting up a home phone in the UK is as easy as calling British Telecom (BT) and getting them to switch your account on. But saving money on your home phone is a complex matter. For a start, there is more than one phone provider.

If you make the effort to research available deals, you can save precious pounds. And if you are worried about phone bills getting out of hand, you can put call barring on your phone to prevent yourself and your dossers from phoning mobile and premium rate numbers. 

Itemised billing will also help to get those pesky dossers to pay for all the calls they made as they lazed around your house.

How to find the best deals

The experts at uSwitch.com, a website designed to help consumers find out the best deals on the market, have good advice.

» Shop around and compare home phone prices. There are loads of phone suppliers out there and some really great deals to be had. Do not assume that the biggest brand names are the best buys; many of the smaller operators offer great tariffs.

» Think about your telephone usage; how many calls do you make a day and when do you make them? Rates vary depending on the time of day the call is made. Do you make a lot of international or mobile calls? These rates can vary greatly.

» Find out what benefits you get with the plans available. Many tariffs offer free calls to UK landlines. Others offer friends and family discounts or refer-a-friend incentives.

» Don’t make a snap decision and never sign anything on the doorstep. There are some unscrupulous operators out there and you can never be entirely sure what you’re signing.

» Take customer support into consideration. If something does go wrong, how much does it cost to contact the supplier’s customer support number? Are you happy with an entirely online customer service? If so, you could save even more money. Do you want to receive your bills online or through the post? Are features such as call waiting or call back important to you? Make sure to ask all the questions before signing up.

» Consider how you want to pay. If you’re prepared to pay by direct debit, your monthly charges will often be lower. Some suppliers, on the other hand, charge extra if you want to pay by credit card.

» uSwitch.com offers a free impartial comparison of the top home phone suppliers. The site’s calculator allows you to specify your international and mobile usage before displaying options tailored to your needs. Click here.

Dialling from the UK

Dial 00, then the country code and local code:

Australia — 61
Austria — 43
Belgium — 32
Canada — 1
France — 33
Germany — 49
Greece — 30
Ireland — 353
Italy — 39
Japan — 81
Netherlands — 31
New Zealand — 64
Portugal — 351
South Africa — 27
Spain — 34
Sweden — 46
Switzerland — 41
Zimbabwe — 26
USA — 1


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