What you need to know about mobile call charges
If you don’t stick to your call plan terms, you could easily rack up an expensive phone bill. Here’s what calls are usually included, what you’ll pay extra for, and how to avoid paying more than you need to.
What does your mobile plan include?
The phone plan you choose will affect the number of minutes you have and the type of calls you can make. Some plans include a set number of minutes e.g. 300 per month, while most others are unlimited.
Unlimited plans offer more than enough minutes for the average user, but it’s worth knowing that some are capped so if you go over that level, you’ll have to pay more.
Check your mobile phone account or log into your mobile network’s user account or app if you’re unsure what your plan includes.
What does unlimited calls mean?
With unlimited calls, you can call the types of number your plan covers as much as you like and you won’t pay extra.
For most networks that offer unlimited call plans, there’s a fair usage policy attached which means that your calling allowance is capped.
It’s usually capped at such a high level that most people wouldn’t come close to reaching the limit e.g. 10,000 minutes.
There are a select few plans that are truly unlimited though, meaning there’s no cap on the number of calls you make. You’ll still be restricted to the type of numbers you can call to avoid extra costs.
What numbers are included?
These are the types of numbers that are usually included in your minutes:
When you make calls to these numbers you’ll use the minutes you’ve paid for as part of your phone plan. If you’ve used up all your included minutes then you’ll have to pay extra.
What numbers will you pay extra for?
Here are the numbers that could catch you out because they’re not usually included in your allocated minutes:
Some call plans do include a separate, smaller allowance for international calls, or may include European countries in their unlimited allowance, so check the terms and conditions.
Call charges and rates by network provider
Below is a list of the Irish mobile networks and links to their price plans. These cover what calls are included within their packages, standard call rates and premium call rates.
|Network||Standard/out of plan call charges||Other information|
|48||Call charges||Unlimited calls, subject to a fair usage cap of 10,000 minutes per month.|
|Clear mobile||Price plan||Unlimited calls, subject to a fair usage cap of 45,000 minutes per month.|
|eir||Price plan||Unlimited calls, subject to a fair usage cap of 45,000 minutes per month.|
|GoMo||Call charges||Unlimited calls, subject to a fair usage cap of 45,000 minutes per month.|
|Lycamobile||Standard rates and Special/premium rates||Buy additional bundles as ‘add-ons’ if you like. Bundles with unlimited minutes available.|
|Tesco Mobile||Call charges and other call charges||Unlimited calls available, subject to a fair usage cap of 10,000 minutes per month.|
|Three||Call rates||Unlimited calls available, subject to a fair usage cap of 10,000 minutes per month.|
|Virgin Mobile||Call rates||Unlimited calls available, subject to a fair usage cap of 10,000 minutes per month.|
|Vodafone||Call charges||Unlimited calls include European calls.|
What happens if you use up your minutes?
If you use up your free minutes before the month ends, you’ll start being charged the network’s standard call rates.
With an unlimited plan, this is unlikely to ever happen. Some networks apply a fair usage policy which does cap the number of minutes included, but it’s at a really high level (usually 10,000 minutes a month) so it’s unlikely you’ll go over this.
10,000 minutes is equivalent to 166 hours or 5.5 hours of calls a day for 30 days.
Switching to a different call plan
If your calling needs have changed, there are some options available, depending on your current plan:
- If you’re on a flexible 30 day SIM-only plan you can switch to a better deal at any time.
- If you’re part way through a longer term bill pay phone deal that has a restricted number of minutes, you can usually buy an add-on until you’re out of contract, and then switch.
Our guide covers all you need to know about switching and finding the best SIM-only deal when the time is right.
What are add-ons?
An add-on is extra airtime that can be bought and activated straight away, keeping you topped up for 30 days, or on an ongoing basis. Extras you may see offered are:
- 4G and 5G data
- international calls and data
- a combination bundle
One-off add-ons are ideal whenever you need a text or data boost, but if you are buying a recurring add-on, consider switching your plan.
What are premium rate services?
Premium rate services (PRS) are entertainment based services you can pay for by phone e.g. competitions, TV voting and charity donations.
You’ll pay a higher rate than a standard call and your network may charge an extra amount on top of what’s advertised, so check.
You can find out more about PRS on the Comreg.ie website.
What about roaming call charges?
You can Roam Like at Home (RLAH) when you travel within the EU, meaning that you can make and receive calls at no extra cost than when you’re in Ireland.
Roaming outside the EU however, can be costly. Some of the price plans in the table above show the cost of making calls from outside the EU.
Find out more about roaming charges, including in the UK, in our dedicated guide.
How to find the best call bundle
Although call charges are an important part of your mobile phone plan, you also need to consider data, texts, flexibility and coverage in your area.
Our comparisons are perfect for helping you find the cheapest overall deal for your needs.
Call charges FAQs
What is a Non Geographic Number?
Businesses may use non-geographic numbers (NGN) to avoid the need for an area code; these include 1850, 1890, 0818 and 076 numbers. This can help their business to seem more accessible nationwide.
NGNs used to be charged at a premium rate, but they are now included in free minutes or charged at the same rate or less than an Irish landline.