118 Numbers

What are 118 numbers?

118 numbers (UK telephone numbers which start with the 118 prefix) are premium-rate phone numbers which are used for directory enquiries, whereby you search for an unknown phone number belonging to a particular person or business.

  • PREMIUM-RATE: 118 numbers are charged at premium rates which means they can cost several pounds per minute to call plus a similarly high access rate and therefore that means they very similar to 09 phone numbers as calls to these numbers are also charged at a premium rate. Additionally this means they differ from geographic numbers (01 & 02 numbers) and the majority of non-geographic numbers such as local-rate 03 numbers and freephone numbers (0800 & 0808 numbers).
  • NON-GEOGRAPHIC: 118 are termed as non-geographic numbers as they are nationally-registered and not assigned to a specific location in the same way that 020 numbers are assigned to London and 0161 numbers are applied to Manchester. In this regard they are similar to 03 (mobile-friendly & local-rate numbers) and 08 (freephone & business-rate) numbers which are also non-geographic and therefore not assigned to a particular location within the UK.

Examples of 118 numbers

  • 118 118 – This is on of the most famous 118 numbers in the UK thanks to their popular advertising campaigns featuring two runners with 80s-style wigs and moustaches. They offer directory enquiries as well as train times, directions and local cinema listings.
  • 118 500 – This is the premium-rate directory enquiry service offered by BT which is the largest provider of landline telephone services in the UK.
  • 118 247 – This is the premium-rate directory enquiries service operated by Yell.com / Yellow Pages.

Cost of calling 118 numbers

118 numbers are premium-rate phone numbers and are usually the most expensive to call in the UK, rivalled only by 09 numbers. They can cost a maximum of £6.49 per call (service charge) plus a per-minute fee of up to £3.49 per minute making them extraordinarily expensive to call. Moreover they don’t have to reveal their pricing to you when you call them, however they have to warn you about their call charges if you wish to connect directly to the phone number you called directory enquiries to find.

Therefore you should avoid calling 118 numbers unless it is absolutely necessary, otherwise you could find yourself having to pay a hefty phone bill.

How do 118 numbers compare to other premium-rate phone numbers (07, 087 and 09 numbers)

118 numbers are usually the most expensive phone numbers as their short length of six digits compared to the usual eleven make them highly memorable and therefore expensive for companies to purchase. 09 numbers can cost nearly as much as 118 directory enquiries numbers however companies will often charge far less than the maximum permitted in order to avoid losing customers. 087 numbers are charged at a much more affordable rate of approximately 13p per minute and finally the cheapest ‘premium rate’ numbers start with the 070 prefix, these are used for call-forwarding services but these are rarely used.

All of these premium-rate phone numbers, ranging from the cheaper 070 & 087 to the highly expensive 09 & 118 numbers, are regulated by the Phone-Paid Services Authority (formerly PhonePayPlus) which in itself is a subsidiary of Ofcom who regulated telecommunications across the whole of the UK. You can use their official number checker to check a premium-rate number on your telephone bill that you are unsure of and to find the exact cost of calling any premium-rate number.