How much does caller display cost?

samantha smith
By Samantha Smith

telephone cordless©iStock.com/ZekaG

"I'M sure I used to get caller display free, but now I've noticed a charge appearing on my bill. How much should it cost?"

We've all become increasingly reliant on features such as caller display and voicemail.

We're used to seeing a caller's number flash up on our mobile phones, and it provides a quick and easy way to avoid taking unwanted calls - be they from people we'd rather not talk to this instant, unknown or withheld numbers.

As the number of marketing and spam calls has rocketed, being able to screen anonymous or unknown numbers can save time and effort - as well as enabling older and more vulnerable people to avoid often intimidating nuisance calls.

Caller display is a good thing then.

Caller display by provider

But while it's automatic and free on mobile phones, getting it on the landline isn't always that simple - and you may indeed find yourself paying for it.

This guide assumes you've got a phone capable of displaying incoming numbers - if not, expect to pay from about £20 for a good basic compatible handset.

Here's how caller display and some other basic calling features are priced per month by the biggest suppliers:

Last called: 1471 Caller display Voicemail: 1571
BT Free £1.75, or Free in certain circumstances £1.85
Sky Free Free £1, or £2.50 for remote access
TalkTalk Free Free Free, or £2.55 for remote access
Virgin Media Free £2.25 Free, or £2.25 for remote access
Plusnet Free £0.99 Free, or £3.00 for remote access

As you can see, Sky (reviewed here) and TalkTalk (detailed here) offer caller display free - just ask them to activate it if you don't think it's working on your phone.

In comparison, BT (review) started charging for the feature at the beginning of 2014, bundling it in with a bunch of other price rises.

Customers who had signed up when it was free suddenly found they were being charged - and claiming the money back has been far from simple for many.

As mentioned, you can still get it free, but to do so you either need to be on BT Basic, or sign up online for a new 12-month line rental contract.

BT caller display prices

SOURCE: BT.com

That might sound like a customer signing up for Line Rental Saver - equivalent to agreeing to a new 12-month contract - would qualify, but they don't.

Instead, customers must specifically sign up to BT's free Caller Display offer - which locks them into a new 12-month contract, and must be renewed every year.

It's not the clearest policy, and it's not the easiest offer to find online - but it does exist.

Would-be caller display customers are advised to ask specifically for the free version.

As shown above, Virgin (review) do offer some free call features like 1471 (last caller ID), withholding your own number and basic voicemail.

If £2.25 a month for caller display seems a little steep, take comfort in the fact that if you want two or more paid-for features - say, caller display plus remote voicemail access, plus call divert or ringback - the most you'll pay is £3.90 a month.

Of the providers who charge, Plusnet (review) are least expensive, demanding 99p a month for the privilege of being able to see who's calling.

Excluding voicemail extra and anonymous call reject, their other paid-for features cost £2.50 a month, but like Virgin they offer a bundling option which brings prices down a bit.

It's not as generous as Virgin's - for two or more features, you'll pay the equivalent of £1.50 a month each - but it will save you at least £1.50, and up to £4 a month.

But regardless of whether you can get caller display, at least using 1471 to check the number of your last caller is free, whoever your provider.

Just don't be tempted to use the last caller redial feature (dialling 1471-3) as this will cost you, from 20p plus call charges.

Voicemail 1571

The other feature most of us would be lost without these days is some form of answering service.

Again, thanks to the spread of mobiles, we've grown used to not needing a physical answering machine to access messages left for us.

But while almost all of us can access voicemails left on our mobiles wherever we are using inclusive minutes, only TalkTalk and Plusnet offer basic access - that is, from your actual landline - for no cost.

Of those who charge, Sky are cheapest at £1 a month.

BT charge £1.85 a month - but unlike the other providers, they don't have basic and enhanced options: everyone who signs up can access their messages wherever they are.

"Voicemail extra", as Plusnet call their enhanced service, isn't included in the call features bundle, so it'll cost another £3 a month on top of your other features.

That makes them the most expensive option.

TalkTalk and Sky charge around £2.50 a month for remote access.

Virgin will charge subscribers £2.25 for remote access - but only if that's the only paid feature they've got. If they've signed up for caller display as well, or any other paid-for feature, they'll be paying a flat £3.90 a month extra.

It's almost enough to make you consider dropping the landline all together - but bearing in mind how important it is for broadband and TV services, make sure you read our guide first.


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