Calling an 08 number from your mobile? Don’t dial direct

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If you’ve ever had to call a company with a non geographic number, you might find that it gets a little pricey. Companies make a bit of cash by getting a portion of the call costs when you call in on an 0844 number, but even with freefone numbers, mobile networks still charge for the call (although this is planned to be changed in the future).

Here’s some tips to save a bit of cash for those customer services lines:

Try seeing if there’s an ‘international number’

Since you can’t generally call 08 numbers from outside the UK, most providers usually offer an ‘international’ UK geographic number for you to call when you’re abroad.

Geographic numbers (01XX or 02XX) are included in the minutes you get as part of your mobile contract, so you won’t pay the 25p – 35p charge.

Unfortunately some companies have gotten wind of this, and detect if you’re in the UK. Withholding your number might work, but usually you’re going to have to find a different route…

BT SmartTalk lets you use your landline everywhere

BT SmartTalk logoRemember the warning for most phonelines where they say something to the effect of ‘mobiles may charge considerably more’? If you’re calling directly from your landline, you’ll usually end up paying a bit less.

Enter the new BT SmartTalk app: it works on Android and iOS devices. You can now use your landline anywhere you have an internet connection (preferably wifi, if you don’t want to use up your data allowance), and it even works abroad, potentially saving you a bundle on roaming charges if you’ve got a wifi hotspot nearby.

I’ve tried it out, and it the call quality seems pretty good – I couldn’t tell the difference from a normal landline call.

The great thing about using your landline is the inclusive 0845/0870 calls if you’ve got a BT calling plan and of course, freefone numbers are free rather than 10p – 30p, depending on your network.

You’ll need to be at home to set it up: they phone you with a confirmation code on your landline, send you a text to confirm your mobile number and they’ll post you a letter confirming the mobile has been added a few days later.

Changes from 1 July

From 1 July 2015, calls to 080 numbers are now free from mobiles, but 0500 numbers may still be chargable. You can get around those charges as follows:

Skype can call 0500 numbers for free

If you haven’t got a BT landline, simply download the Skype app for your phone, and use SkypeOut to call. You don’t need to top-up.

Usual caveats apply regarding data usage.

0800buster can get you free freefone calls from your mobile

0800buster0500 numbers may be chargable, but you can dial 0333 555 8800 and you’ll be prompted to enter the freefone number you want to call.

 

Saynoto0870 might help you find an alternative number

Saynoto0870 is a website which gives alternative geographic numbers: but this doesn’t always work: sometimes you’ll just get put through to a random person in the company, or you’ll just get through to a recording that tells you to redial the original number.

It’s worth a try though!

Summary:

Don’t call 08X (apart from 080) numbers from your mobile. Use an alternate service.

 Mobile call0800 busterBT SmartTalk / LandlineSaynoto0870
03XXYesn/aYes (if included in your landline plan)No
0845 / 0870Non/aYes (if included in your landline plan)If available
0808 / 0800 (freefone)Yesn/aYesn/a
0500 freefoneNoYesYesIf available
Other 08XXNon/aYes (it's probably cheaper than your mobile)If available

Car Clubs – a cheap way to get driving in the city

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If you live in London, you probably won’t be using a car everyday – but for shorter journeys, I’ve found the best solution is to join a car sharing club.

It’s environmentally friendly, and far cheaper than buying a car for yourself, especially if you aren’t driving much.

How much do they cost?

Here’s a quick overview of the prices of the different clubs:

 Hertz on DemandZipcarCity Car ClubCar2Go
Cheapest car cost per hour£4.50£5£4.95£14.90 (35p/minute minimum)
Included mileage per trip2040017
Cost per additional mile30p30p23p17p
Annual fee£0£59.50£60£0
Setup fee£0£0£0£29.90
WebsiteHertz on DemandZipcarCity Car ClubCar2Go

In general, most of the clubs are the same: Zipcar, Hertz, Car2Go and City Car Club all have parking, insurance, maintenance and fuel included in the hourly rental price, and Streetcar and Hertz also include congestion charge (as do City Car Club for cars parked in the zone).

Once you’re actually driving, there’s usually an element of included mileage per rental, and a charge per mile once you’ve gone over (this is a per rental allowance rather than an hourly allowance, which seemed a bit strange to me, since you can just return the car and take it out again to get more miles).

Hertz’s cheapest car is electric. I’ve tried it, and it’s a pretty quiet drive, to the point where a pedestrian walked into the road in front of me after failing to hear it. You get unlimited mileage with it, but I don’t really think you can get too far…

What do I need to join one?

You’ll usually need to have held a clean licence for a couple of years, depending on the company that you’re using.

How do I use one?

For all the companies apart from Car2Go, there’ll be a reserved parking spot where your car is parked: you need to reserve it in advance, and use your keyfob or card to open the car.

my new car keys

The keys will be in the car already – pop them in the ignition like normal, and away you go.

Usually, you’ll have to return the car from where you got it, and you’ll have to do it on time, so make sure you book the right amount of time at the start, as most companies will charge you extra if you’re late.

If you’re running out of fuel, there’ll be a fuel card to charge it back to the hire company.

Once you’re done, you usually need to end the rental from the in car device, leave the keys in the car, and lock it with your keyfob/card

Pay by the minute in home areas – Car2Go

Car2Go is a new concept in car sharing from Germany that works more like a Boris bike – once you’ve finished, you can park anywhere in a residents permit spot in the designated ‘home areas’, and you don’t have to return it to where you picked it up. This has both advantages and disadvantages: you only pay for the amount you travel, but you also are at the mercy of other members parking them up near to you. Additionally, you can only reserve them 30 minutes in advance.

The cars are all smart cars, and they cost 35p per minute (up to a maximum of £59 per day) – whether you’re driving or parked: this might sound a lot more expensive, but if you’re travelling within a home area, you can just end the rental once you arrive, so you just pay for driving time. You also have a limit of 17 miles per trip before they become chargeable.

Unfortunately they’re only located in small sections of London (around Angel and Islington, and around Stratford.

My recommendation

Join Hertz on Demand whatever you do – it’s pretty much a no-brainer seeing as there’s no setup or annual fee. It then depends on which car clubs have vehicles located nearest to you: you might have to end up paying an annual fee if there aren’t any Hertz cars nearby.

Best ISAs for 2013

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Now that the new tax year is here, it’s time to grab yourself a new ISA: unfortunately, there aren’t really that many great deals. Here’s my pick of the best of the bunch:

You can only open one cash ISA each year, so make sure you make the right choice!

Instant Access for new money – Poppy ISA from Coventry BS:

2.6% until 5 April 2014, including 0.6% bonus. 0.1% donated to the Poppy Appeal

This is the best rate I can see at the moment: the only caveat is that it doesn’t accept old money from existing ISAs.

You can still transfer your existing funds (if the initial bonus rate has expired) to another top paying ISA.

Instant Access accepting transfers in – Online Bonus ISA from Leeds BS:

2.55% until 30 April 2014, including 1.3% bonus

This account accepts transfers in. If you put the full amount in the ISA, this would be equivalent to £28.80 less interest each year (and a £57.60 donation to the Poppy Appeal) over the Coventry BS one. Whether this is worth you opening two accounts is up to you.

Two Year Fixed Rate accepting transfers in – Major ISA from Santander:

2.8% (3% for Santander 123 Current Account/Credit Card holders) for 2 years.

Additionally, you’ll receive a one-off bonus of 0.1% if Rory McIlroy wins an eligible golf ‘Major’. I’m guessing they’re a sponsor of his. I’ve had a quick look at the odds at the bookies, and it does seem likely that he’ll win at least one of them.

If you take your money out early, you’ll lose 120 days interest.

Why put money in ISAs when you could have them in a 3% current account?

Whilst you can get 3% on your current account, this is taxed at 20%, leaving you with 2.4%, even less if you’re a higher rate tax payer. Additionally, these funds will remain tax free for as long as you don’t withdraw them: so you could be saving up to a handy tax-free nest egg.

Cash ISAs vs Stocks and Shares ISAs

You can invest up to £5,760 in a Cash ISA and another £5,760 in a Stocks and Shares ISA. Alternatively you can invest all of it (£11,520) in a Stocks and Shares ISA.

 

Got some better ISAs? Feel free to recommend them in the comments!