This post examines the best free conference call services for UK participants.
Truly free conference calls
Over the last few years, many supposedly free conference call services have appeared in the UK. They can market themselves as ‘free’ because they offer a simple call-in service where no payment details are taken from the conference organiser, and participants only pay for the cost of their phone call.
However, some of these so-called free conference call services can lead to extreme bill shock when it comes to paying your network provider for the phone call itself.
“Roll up, roll up, get your free conference calls! We won’t charge you a penny!” A common claim, but what’s the catch?
Many businesses and organisations are extremely sceptical about ‘free’ teleconferencing – and for good reason. Not all conference call services are made equal. But if you know what to look for, you can absolutely find free UK conference calls.
Here’s some clarification on free conference call services…
When it comes to ‘free’ conference call services, there seem to be lots of options. Many UK conference call providers can be used without any upfront cost or subscription charge. There’s often no sign-up fee or payment for setting up and scheduling your conference call. But, when the time comes to dial in, you need to be careful about the phone number your conference call service provides.
It’s often the phone number you dial when accessing the conference call that you need to worry about if you’re looking for free conference calls in the UK.
- 0800 and 0808 numbers: free to call from UK phone networks.
- 03 numbers: usually free to call because they’re included in any bundled minutes you have on your phone contract. If you don’t have any minutes, you’ll only ever pay your standard network rate.
- 084 and 087 business rate numbers: carry two charges, a service charge and an access charge. The service charge is set by the telephone conference provider, and the access charge is set my your phone network. Together these form your per minute rate – which can be very high, especially from mobiles.
- Mobile shortcodes: carry a flat charge and are designed as a cheaper alternative to calling 084/087 numbers from mobile phones. However, shortcodes are not included in mobile contract minutes like 03 numbers.
Which are the UK’s best free conference call services?
We’ve compared some key features of some of the most popular UK conference call services so you can explore your options. Many of these providers market themselves as ‘free’ but as you can see, the real costs vary dramatically when you compare like with like…
*Information up to date as of Oct 2020. Page originally published Jun 2018.
|Service||Free to set up?||Free to call?||Dial-in number||Features||Trustpilot score|
|WHYPAY?||Yes||Yes (if you have bundled minutes).||03 – Simple and cost effective.||Calendar integration, call recording, scheduling, speed dial, moderator controls, custom welcome greetings.||4.8/5|
|PowWowNow||Yes||Yes (if you have bundled minutes and avoid the “shared cost” numbers)||03 / 0844 / 87373 (mobile short code)||Calendar integration, call recording, moderator controls, custom welcome greetings.||3.3/5|
|Con-Flab||Yes||Yes (from mobiles with minutes available).
No from landlines – Access and Service charges apply.
|03 / 0843||Calendar integration, call recording, moderator controls.||N/A|
|Conferencecall.co.uk||Yes||No – Service charge and Access charges apply.||0843 / 83000||Calendar intergration, call recording, muting controls.||4.8/5|
|ConferenceNow (.co.uk)||Yes||No – Service charge and Access charges apply.||0844 / 8545505 (mobile short code)||Calendar integration, moderator controls.||N/A|
Not all conference call services are made equal
Evidently, the numbers provided by different conferencing platforms vary. As a result, there is great variation in the cost of using different conference call services.
Although the set-up process is almost always free the charges you see on your phone bill will differ depending on which teleconference provider you go with.
We couldn’t find any ‘free’ conference call facilities which included a free-phone 0800 number for accessing the conference. This is because free-phone dial-in numbers would cost too much to provide for free. They would need to be included in some kind of subscription plan or per-minute pricing.
03 is the way to go
On the other hand, some conference call services provide 03 numbers to dial in. Examples include WHYPAY?, PowWowNow and Con-Flab – but some offer other numbers in conjunction with 03, so make sure you’re using the correct number! 03 conferencing services offer the best bang for your buck because most UK callers have some kind of minutes package provided by their phone network. Consequently, these conference call facilities are the best option for anyone looking for free UK conference calls.
Avoid 084 if you’re seeking free conference call services
084 numbers are probably the most common type of UK conferencing number, however these are never free to call. From mobiles, the access charges for calling 084 numbers can be extremely high. As a result, callers may get very high per minute charges.
Calling from your mobile?
Avoid 084/087 conference numbers like the plague!
Just look at the access charges for calling an 084/087 conferencing line from the UK’s most popular mobile networks. Remember the access charge is only part of the full per minute rate. In addition, you’ll pay the service charge, which is set by the conference call service.
|Mobile network||Access Charge for 084, 087, 09, and 118 numbers (pence per minute)|
*Information taken from mobile providers’ websites in Oct 2020
As mentioned, some UK conference call services provide mobile shortcodes as an alternative to dialling the supplied 084/087 number from a mobile phone. However, even mobile shortcodes can’t beat 03 numbers. That’s because they are always charged, and are not included in phone contract minutes.
Generally, 03 is the way to go – but check customer reviews and find out the features included before choosing your conference call provider.
WHYPAY? offers genuinely free UK conference calls
One of the best ways to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to conference call providers is to look at free conference call reviews from genuine customers. At WHYPAY? we’re proud of our reputation for excellent support, value for money and conference call quality. But we’ll let our reviews speak for themselves.
Get started with WHYPAY?
Follow these simple steps to generate free WHYPAY? conference dial-in details.
- Pick up your mobile and dial 033 3443 4567 (UK local call – included in your minutes);
- Press the * key when prompted to receive your free dial-in details;
- Share your details with your guests, letting them know the time of your call;
- When the time comes, everyone dials in using your details and is instantly connected.
Audio conferencing vs video / web conferencing
Simple telephone conference calls are trusted as the most reliable, user-friendly and accessible way to hold a virtual meeting. Nevertheless, many situations call for more than an audio experience.
So if you need a more visual conferencing experience – including video calls, screen sharing – you may want to explore ‘video conferencing’ or ‘online meeting’ platforms.