In the UK, 0500 numbers are old-style freephone numbers that are due to be withdrawn by 3rd June 2017.
The majority of freephone numbers now begin with 0800 and 0808, making the 0500 prefix obsolete.
0500 number call costs
0500 numbers are intended to be free to call and generally remain so from landline telephones including payphones, although most mobile phone companies will charge for calls.
Withdrawal of 0500 numbers
As 0500 numbers are now quite rare and poorly recognised by the public, it is planned that they will be withdrawn from use by mid-2017. Numbers starting 08085 are being made available as a replacement.
Organisations who still have 0500 numbers are being offered 'matching' modern freephone numbers that start with 08085. For example, the owner of the number 0500 123456 will be able to switch to the number 08085 123456.
If you regularly contact an organisation using an 0500 number, be aware that this number will stop working before very long. It's worth checking the organisation's website or other publicity to see if they have issued a replacement number – many have already switched.
About the new 08085 numbers
Numbers starting with 0808 have been in use since 1997, alongside the older and better-known freephone numbers starting with the 0800 prefix.
The batch of phone numbers starting 0808 5 was made available in 2015, specifically to replace older '0500 numbers'.
Organisations do not have to use the 08085 number – the only requirement is that they stop using the old 0500 number by the middle of 2017. If they prefer, they may replace their 0500 number with a completely different number instead.