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Ten ways to cut the cost of communicating

close up detail of a broadband modemThe internet and mobile phones have made keeping in touch with friends, family – and the office – easier than ever before. But new technology and services have brought with them lots of new costs and charges. So here are ten ways to communicate as cheaply as possible…

1. Get clever with your mobile on holiday

Using your mobile phone abroad as you would at home will cost you a fortune. Instead, get your phone unlocked before you go and switch SIM cards to a network local to that country. They are cheap to buy and although you’ll have to use a temporary number, you’ll only pay local rates.

2. Find an internet café

Postcards are likely to return home from your holiday after you do but, if you want to catch up with friends and family, find a local internet café and email. It will only cost the equivalent of a few pounds, which you can pay upfront.

3. Opt for a “broadband bundle”

If your home phone is with a different provider to your broadband, consider taking a “bundle” of both services but from one company – it’s usually considerably cheaper. However, you should expect to be tied into a contract of typically 12 months, and if you want to exit from the agreement early, you can expect to pay a fee.

4. Keep an eye out for special offers

Competition among phone and broadband providers is rife so keep an eye out for temporary offers designed to attract new custom.

5. Shop around for the cheapest provider

Whether you are looking for a basic home phone or broadband provider, a bundle for both or a whole media package, don’t pay over the odds for the same service. Make sure you shop around online for the provider that’s most competitive within your postcode area. You can compare tv, broadband & phone deals here.

6. Keep within your mobile minutes

If you are on a contract with a mobile phone provider, the tariff you have chosen will probably include a set amount of free calling minutes. Keep a tab on how many minutes you
have remaining as if you exceed your limit, charges will suddenly rocket.

7. Cap your mobile bills

If you don’t want to keep checking the minutes you have left, put a safety catch in place with a hybrid of a contract and pay-as-you-go deal. Tesco Mobile’s “Cap Your Mobile Spend” service
allows a fixed amount of pay-monthly credit. When this is used up, the tariff switches to pay-as-you-go so you will never be caught out by a surprise bill.

8. Be aware of new free evening call times when using your landline

Three of the biggest communications providers have recently pushed back the start of their free evening calls from 6pm to 7pm. BT implemented the change from 1 April, while Sky and some TalkTalk customers were affected from 1 June. If you must make your call at 6pm find out what it’s going to cost you first – and steer clear of mobile numbers. Our peak times change article explains more.

9. Avoid premium-rate numbers

Dialling premium-rate numbers used by businesses, such as 0844, 0845 and 0871, could send the price of your home phone or mobile bill rocketing. To avoid them altogether, type the number into www.saynoto0870.com. The website will then provide any existing cheaper alternative number that will connect you to the same organisation.

10. Sign up to Skype

Buy yourself a pair of headphones and sign up to Skype. This is an online service via which you can talk to anyone, anywhere in the world, free of charge, provided they are also Skype users. If you invest in a webcam as well, you can even see who you are talking to.