Cheapest landline phone service in the UK

Last updated: 5 August 2023   By Julia Kukiewicz

The cheapest way to get a landline home phone is often to bundle it with broadband, but there are still landline only deals available.

It's often cheaper to take broadband with a home phone line, even if customers don't intend on using the Internet very much.

However, it's also still possible to get a landline only deal from BT, Direct Save Telecom, and KCOM in Hull, which could save a few pounds if the Internet really isn't wanted.

BT Home Essentials or KCOM Flex are also good options for people on low incomes to get the cheapest possible landline phone service.

home telephone cordless
Credit: Shutterstock.com

Landline phone only deals

There are only three providers that offer landline phone only deals in the UK, and that is BT, Direct Save Telecom, and KCOM in Hull.

BT and KCOM are the incumbent Universal Service Providers and so they have an obligation to provide customers with a landline phone service.

Direct Save Telecom is more of an outlier, however, as they resell access to the Openreach network owed by BT.

All three providers offer pay as you go options, as well as the ability to add inclusive call plans to lower the cost for people who regularly use their landlines.

BT

BT offer customers landline only packages with a discount if they don't take fixed line broadband from BT or any other provider.

The discount was introduced after some prompting by Ofcom to make landline-only prices fairer for customers.

Here are the prices for BT's landline phone service:

Plan Line rental charge Landline only discount Total monthly
Standard Line Rental £26.35 £14.62 £11.73
Line Rental Plus £28.35 £14.62 £13.73

Line Rental Plus includes extra calling features such as Call Waiting, Call Barring, Call Diversion, 3-Way Calling, Reminder Call, Call Sign, Ringback and Choose to Refuse for up to ten numbers.

While prices of BT line rental went up by £3.30 a month at the end of March 2023, the landline only discount was also increased, so effective prices for those taking just a home phone line have remained the same.

In addition, while BT increase prices on an annual basis by Consumer Price Index (CPI) + 3.9%, this increase doesn't apply to either landline-only customers or those who take BT Home Essentials.

Standard landline only customers can also add inclusive call plans, while still being eligible for the landline only discount. Here are the prices of those plans:

Call plan Monthly price (with discount) Contract term
Standard Line Rental Pay as you go calls at 22.84 pence per minute £11.73 12 months
700 Minutes 700 minutes a month for UK landline and UK mobile numbers £21.09 12 months
Unlimited Minutes Unlimited minutes for UK landlines and UK mobile numbers £31.31 12 months

Landline only customers also get discounts on out of allowance calling costs, and calls to international destinations.

BT Home Essentials

Customers in receipt of certain means-tested benefits who only want a phone line should consider BT Home Essentials for the cheapest landline phone service prices.

BT's social tariff offers an affordable landline-only plan for customers who may otherwise struggle to afford a home telephone service.

Previously known as BT Basic, BT Home Essentials was introduced in June 2021, and offers some advantages over the previous social tariff.

The new plan includes:

Package Call plan Monthly price Contract term
Home Essentials Unlimited calls to UK landlines, UK mobiles and 0845/0870 numbers £10 12 months

While the minimum term lasts for 12 months, there are no early termination fees if a customer needs to exit the contract early, and BT Home Essentials is also excluded from any annual price rises.

KCOM

While BT is the incumbent Universal Service Provider (USP) for most of the UK, KCOM are the USP for Hull.

This means they also provide a landline-only service for customers who don't want a broadband connection.

Here are the prices for KCOM's landline phone service:

Plan Monthly price (Direct Debit) Monthly price (Cash or Cheque)
Phone-only £11.99 £12.49

As with BT, landline-only customers are protected from the provider's usual annual price increase of CPI + 3.9%.

KCOM mobile and local calls are free for phone-only customers, while UK landline calls cost 15 pence per minute, while other UK mobile calls cost between 18 and 30 pence per minute.

Landline phone customers can choose to add call plan bolt-ons, which cost:

Call plan Monthly price Contract term
Phone-only Pay as you go calls charged from 15 pence per minute £11.99 (Direct Debit) 12 months
UK landlines Unlimited calls to UK landlines +£5 1 month
UK landlines & mobiles Unlimited calls to UK landlines and UK mobiles +£10 1 month

KCOM Flex

Like BT, KCOM also offer a social tariff for landline-only customers, which they call Flex.

KCOM Flex is available to people in receipt of a range of means-tested benefits including Universal Credit (zero earnings), Income Support, Pension Credit, Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Personal Independent Payment, and Attendance Allowance among others.

The pricing for Flex is:

Package Inclusive calls Monthly price Contract term
Flex Voice 20 minutes of local calls £5.10 12 months

KCOM flex actually has a monthly rolling term whereby customers can exit the contract early without early termination fees if they need to or they no longer become eligible for the plan.

If customers make calls above the 20-minute local call included allowance, they can spend up to a maximum of £10 per month. Once £10 is spent, calls won't be blocked but they won't incur further charges subject to fair use.

Calling costs are typically much cheaper as well, with national UK landline calls only costing 6.13 pence in the daytime, and 2.04 pence at the weekend.

In addition, the KCOM Flex social tariff is also excluded from annual price rises, so customers can feel confident their price won't go up.

Direct Save Telecom

Direct Save Telecom is not a Universal Service Provider like BT and KCOM, and so their pricing for landline phone services are different - and more expensive.

Direct Save also don't include any inclusive calls with their landline-only service as standard, and customers need to add at least one call package to the line rental cost.

There are three options available to pay for a landline phone only service:

Plan Monthly price Payment frequency Contract term
Best Value Line Rental £20.83 Annual 12 months
Pay Monthly Line Rental £22.95 Monthly 12 months
Non Contract Pay Monthly £26.95 Monthly 28 days

There is some flexibility here as customers can either choose the cheapest price by paying a year upfront, or if that's not a viable option, they can pay monthly with a 12-month contract, or monthly with no contract at all.

In addition to these prices above, customers also need to add a call plan from one of the following:

Call plan Monthly price Contract term
Pay As You Go Pay as you go calls from 18.27 pence per minute £2.95 As above
700 Mins 700 minutes of calls to UK landlines and UK mobiles £5.95 As above
Anytime Calls Anytime calls to UK landlines and UK mobiles £11.95 As above

Calling costs are cheaper with Direct Save Telecom than BT, but BT and KCOM's USP obligation means their line rental prices are much cheaper overall.


Cheapest phone and broadband bundles

While many people will just want a landline phone service, it can be cost effective to bundle a home phone line with broadband, and it also opens up a wider choice of providers.

Here are some of the cheapest phone and broadband bundles:

Package Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Super Fibre 63Mb average £21 £10 12 months
offer Offer: Save £3/mth until 4 July 2024 then £24/mth + NOW TV membership available reduced for 12 months (Ends 04/07/2024)
Superfast Fibre 38Mb average £23.99 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Money off for 18 months
Fibre 1 35Mb average £26 Free 24 months
offer Offer: £3 off for Vodafone pay monthly customers
Unlimited Fibre 66Mb average £24.99 Free 24 months

As you can see, unless a customer goes with BT or KCOM for a cheap landline-only plan, the price of the cheapest phone and broadband bundles are sometimes even cheaper than the landline-only costs charged by Direct Save Telecom.

In addition, with an increasingly default-by-digital society, with everything from Universal Credit, job applications, medical appointments, and banking moving online, having a home broadband connection has become almost essential.

It's also worth considering the savings available for people who have broadband and can make use of free video calling services like Zoom, to keep in touch with loved ones more visually, which can even be taken advantage of with just a simple tablet.

Read more about the cheapest broadband and phone deals.


Home phone calling costs

Unless a landline phone service comes with inclusive calls, or a customer adds a call plan, it's also important to know how much calls will cost, as they can add up if the phone is used regularly.

For people who do use a landline home phone regularly, inclusive call plans as we've discussed above will almost always save more money than paying per call.

However, for lighter users or those who mainly receive calls, paying per call could work out cheaper.

Here are the latest prices for UK landline and mobile calls across some major providers:

Connection fee Price per minute (UK landlines) Price per minute (UK mobiles)
BT None 26.12p 26.12p
Direct Save Telecom 22p 18.27p 18.27p
KCOM 23p 15p 18 - 30p
Plusnet 30.09p 19.62p 23.54p
NOW Broadband 25p 25p 25p
TalkTalk None 24p 24p
Shell Energy Broadband 27.44p 21.49p 21.49p
Vodafone 19p 11.5p 13p

We've included some of the UK's cheapest broadband and phone providers in the table above to offer a comparison between the home phone call charges of landline-only and broadband and phone packages.

While most providers charge similar calling costs, Vodafone is notable for their low call charges, with their price per minute charge on UK landline and UK mobile calls less than half that of BT and most other providers.

Calling mobile phones

For anyone who frequently calls UK mobile numbers, it's also worth checking to see the provider chosen includes mobile calls in their inclusive call plans.

Most providers nowadays do include UK mobiles, and this covers BT, TalkTalk, Plusnet, EE, Sky, NOW Broadband, and Vodafone.

Providers that don't automatically include UK mobiles in their calling plans including Virgin Media, Hyperoptic and iTalk Telecom.

0845 and 0870 numbers

Calling 0845 and 0870 numbers has become cheaper and more transparent in recent years.

The cost of calling these numbers is made up of two elements:

  • Access charge (per minute)
  • Service charge (per minute)

The access charge is the fee the phone provider applies to the call while the service charge is the fee levied by the company we're calling.

Ofcom have put rules to place to cap the total amount providers can charge for calling these numbers:

Access charge (per minute) Service charge (per minute)
084 numbers Up to 67p Up to 7p
087 numbers Up to 67p Up to 13p

The costs of these can quickly add up, so it's important to choose a provider with a lower access charge if you make a lot of these calls (and they will usually be subject to a call set-up fee too).

The full details for each provider can be found in their call tariff guides.


Broadband-first market changes

While there are still a handful of providers offering landline-only services, primarily due to the Universal Service Obligation of BT and KCOM, most providers have now switched to a broadband-first approach to telecoms.

Broadband-first means a market where the main product is broadband, and home phone is an optional extra. This means, as we've seen, very few providers offer landline without broadband.

In addition, with the planned closure of the copper phone line network due for 2025, and Openreach ending the provision of copper phone lines to new customers from September 2023, home phone lines are increasingly being provided by digital lines, which means the phone service runs over the Internet connection itself.

This move to digital phone lines is called Digital Voice by BT, but it also affects providers like Virgin Media who used to offer customers a copper phone line, but are now themselves moving to digital phone line services.

The rollout of full fibre broadband is also changing the market for home phone services, as many full fibre packages are coming without a home phone as standard, and some providers, particularly budget ones like TalkTalk and Plusnet, don't even offer the option to add a home phone.

While this does mean an unfortunate reduction in the number of landline phone services available to choose from, broadband is becoming such an essential service most homes will want a broadband connection anyway.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cheapest landline phone service?

The cheapest landline phone service is £11.73 with BT, which includes their Standard Line Rental plan and a discount for customers who take just a phone line and don't have fixed line broadband from BT or any other provider.

For people living in Hull, KCOM offer a landline phone service for £11.99 for those who pay by Direct Debit, or £12.49 for those who need to pay by cash or by cheque.

Can I get a landline phone without broadband?

Yes, you can. BT, KCOM in Hull, and Direct Save Telecom all offer customers the ability to take just a landline home phone service without also taking broadband.

In fact, customers with BT and KCOM will get a reduced price for line rental if they don't have fixed line broadband at all, thanks to fairer regulation from Ofcom.

How much does BT line rental cost?

BT line rental costs £26.35 a month from 31st March 2023. Customers who don't have broadband with BT or any other provider, get an on-going monthly discount of £14.62, reducing the cost of line rental to just £11.73 per month.

What is the eligibility requirement for BT's social landline only service?

BT's landline-only social tariff, BT Home Essentials, requires customers to be in receipt of one of the following means-tested benefits: Universal Credit, Pension Credit (Guaranteed Credit), Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance.

BT Home Essentials offers customers an affordable home phone service that costs just £10 per month and includes unlimited calls to UK landlines and mobiles.


Summary: Cheapest landline is with BT or KCOM

The cheapest landline phone service is with either BT or KCOM due to the Universal Service Obligation ensuring their prices remain low and affordable for people who just want a phone line.

Those on benefits can save more with social tariffs from either BT or KCOM that even include an inclusive call allowance for UK landlines and mobiles, ensuring people can afford to stay in touch and make necessary phone calls.

However, for anyone who would consider also taking broadband, the budget broadband and phone providers offer some of the cheapest prices for staying in touch.

Vodafone in particular offer cheap broadband and phone plans, and some of the cheapest calling rates for UK landlines and mobiles in the market, at almost half that BT charges.

Yet, for anyone who is a regular home phone user, the best money saving option is most likely going to be taking an inclusive call plan, so all calls are prepaid and there is no chance for a shock bill at the end of the month.

Read more about getting a new phone line installed in the UK, and the best broadband offers in 2023 to save money on a new contract.

Comments

Alun Morgan (Shaggy)
22 April 2017

I have no need for a calling plan as I don't need a phone. I only want broadband. This seems impossible to get and I have to pay for a calling plan that I will never use.

Choose team replying to Alun Morgan (Shaggy)
25 April 2017

Hi Alun, you can read our guide on getting home broadband without a phone line here: https://www.choose.co.uk/gu... - Hope this helps!

Stephen Beswick
9 August 2014

Annual line rental from TalkTalk I'm now being told is £172.20 when I come to actually pay! The screen price on TalkTalk is as you say £141. What's going on? Last year it was £114, a £58 increase, 56% jump I think. I spoke to TalkTalk and they say the new price increase is on top of the May increase.

Choose team replying to Stephen Beswick
26 August 2014

Hi Stephen, thanks for commenting. We know, it's crazy. We wrote about this price hike here.

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

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