0870 Numbers

Number type:0870 numbers
Usage:Service numbers with a surcharge
Call costs:Typically 11p to 68p per minute, plus up to 13p per call (see below)
Introduced:1996
Similar numbers:0843, 0844, 0845, 0871, 0872

What are 0870 numbers?

Telephone numbers starting with 0870 are 'service numbers' charged at special rates.

Calls to 0870 numbers are typically charged at higher rates than calls to normal landlines due to the inclusion of a surcharge or 'service charge' to pay for the service being provided.

Unlike traditional landline phone numbers, 0870 numbers are not associated with any specific geographic location.

0870 numbers generate an income for either the organisation being called or their telephone company. As a result of this, common uses for 0870 numbers include:

  • Chargeable information and support lines
  • Event ticket and travel booking services
  • Conference call services
  • Pre-sales information lines
  • Horoscopes, tarot and fortune-telling
  • Dating, chat and adult entertainment

Using 0870 numbers for customer service lines is now forbidden by law.

0870 number call costs

Special two-part charging arrangements apply when calling 0870 numbers:

1. Access charge Set by your phone company and charged whenever you call any number starting 084, 087, 09 or 118. Varies from around 12p per minute on landlines to up to 55p per minute from mobiles.
2. Service charge An extra charge that benefits the organisation you are calling. They are responsible for informing you of what charge rate applies. Up to 13p per minute, 13p per call or a combination of both.

Total 0870 number call costs will typically be anywhere from 11p to 68p per minute, plus up to an additional 13p per-call charge.

This means that 0870 numbers will usually cost more to call than a normal landline. They will usually not be included in any free call allowances or bundled minutes that your tariff offers.
See examples for major phone companies...

Regulation and advice

The Phone-paid Services Authority regulates 0870 numbers that have a service charge of more than 7p per minute or 7p per call, as well as all 0870 numbers used for chatlines, adult services and internet diallers. They can advise on related problems.

Companies are prohibited from using service numbers such as 0870 numbers for post-sales customer service lines. More info.

Further information

All numbers starting 087 are charged in the same manner and have the same technical features. This includes 08700 numbers, 08701 numbers, 08705 numbers, 08707 numbers, 08708 numbers and all other numbers that start with the digits 0870, regardless of how the number is displayed or what the following digits are.

0870 numbers were introduced in 1996 for services that cost the same as a regular 'national rate' phone call. In April 2001, various older national rate prefixes were shut down and their numbers transferred to the 0870 code as follows:

  • 0374 5xxxxx became 0870 45x xxxx
  • 0541 xxxxxx became 0870 1xx xxxx
  • 0990 xxxxxx became 0870 5xx xxxx

The link to 'national rate' was later broken and by the mid-2000s calls to 0870 numbers began to be charged at a range of different rates. In July 2015, all 084 and 087 numbers switched to the new two-part charging structure made up of a separate service charge and access charge.

See also:

Telephone buttons