How to avoid roaming charges when holidaying in Europe

0
47


Holidaymakers jetting off to Europe this summer face charges of up to £2 a day to use their phones, as mobile networks reintroduce roaming charges. 

Britons have enjoyed unlimited use of their mobile phones when holidaying in Europe since 2017, when a European Union ruling forced networks to drop the charges. 

But since 2021, mobile networks have been allowed to reintroduce them after the UK left the EU. 

Some of the major networks have already done so, but others say they won’t.  

Phoning home: Vodafone, EE, Three and Sky Mobile have re-introduced mobile roaming costs of up to £2 per day in EU countries after Brexit erased the old EU protections

Phoning home: Vodafone, EE, Three and Sky Mobile have re-introduced mobile roaming costs of up to £2 per day in EU countries after Brexit erased the old EU protections

Most people opt to pay a roaming charge, as using your phone without one can cost around £2 a minute for a phone call and more than £7 per gigabyte of data.  

With some people travelling abroad for the first time since the pandemic this summer, This is Money explains the roaming charges on the main networks and how holidaymakers can keep their bills down. 

How much does it cost to use my mobile phone abroad?

How much it costs to use your usual mobile data, texts and minutes, depends on the country you are visiting and your mobile phone provider.

Currently, travellers in EU countries can expect to pay between £1 and £2 a day to use their phone as they would at home. 

The charges levied for countries outside of the EU were not affected by Brexit, and can be up to £6 a day.  

EE 

EE customers can use their minutes, texts and data allowances across 47 countries from £2 a day, or for £10 a month if they opt for the Roam Abroad add on. 

If your pay monthly contract started before July 7, 2021 then these new charges will not affect you.

However, if your pay monthly plan started on or after July 7, 2021 then you will need to pay a daily charge for using your phone abroad, unless you use the Roam Abroad add on.

Daily charge: EE customers travelling in up to 47 countries in Europe can use their mobile phone's minutes, texts and data allowances from £2 per day

Daily charge: EE customers travelling in up to 47 countries in Europe can use their mobile phone’s minutes, texts and data allowances from £2 per day

The Roam Abroad pass also includes an additional five countries outside of Europe: the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

For those travelling outside of the EU, EE has some of the more expensive roaming costs compared to other UK mobile providers.

Making a call abroad can cost a whopping £1.88 per minute, while each 160 character text message will cost 62p – unless the customer signs up to a roaming package. 

They can use the World Select Text and Talk add on to get unlimited calls and texts for £6.26 per day when abroad, with the data add on allowing them to use 500mb of data for £6.27 per 24 hours of use. 

Holidaymakers should also be aware that they can be charged £1.88 per minute for receiving a voicemail, so they should turn voicemail off before travelling to avoid any unnecessary costs. 

Vodafone 

Vodafone has also reintroduced roaming charges for Britons in Europe. New and upgrading customers will pay up to £2 per day to use their monthly allowance of data, calls and texts when travelling to an EU country. 

Customers who signed up to a contract before 11 August 2021 will not be impacted by these changes. 

New and upgrading customers with Vodafone will pay up to £2 per day to use their monthly allowance of data, calls and texts when travelling to an EU country

New and upgrading customers with Vodafone will pay up to £2 per day to use their monthly allowance of data, calls and texts when travelling to an EU country

Holidaymakers using Vodafone will also be able to reduce the cost to £1 per day by purchasing a multi-day pass for either eight or 15 days.   

For Britons travelling further afield, Vodafone offers customers the option to use their data, minutes and texts from £6 a day.

Three 

Customers on Three have a little bit more time to take advantage of free roaming before their charges take effect.

Three will be applying a £2 daily charge to all new and upgrading Three customers, but customers who joined before October 2021 will only see the changes come into effect from May 23, 2022.

The mobile provider limits the amount of data customers can use abroad to 12GB, and customers will be charged £3 per GB if they go over their limit.

Three also introduced Go Roam which lets customers use their plan or add-on allowances in more than 70 destinations around the world at no extra cost. 

For £5 a day, customers can benefit from unlimited unrestricted data, and use their your phone outside of the EU. 

Three will be applying a £2 daily charge to all new and upgrading Three customers with a 12 GB data limit per month

Three will be applying a £2 daily charge to all new and upgrading Three customers with a 12 GB data limit per month

Sky Mobile  

Sky will start charging mobile users £2 a day for roaming in the European Union using inclusive minutes, texts and calls from 3 May. 

Any mobile data used will come out of customer’s UK data plan, and if customers have unlimited calls and texts whilst they are roaming in Europe, calls and texts to standard European mobiles and landlines will be included.

One perk is that customers can use any unused data from previous months that’s automatically stored in their ‘piggybank’ to avoid extra costs, if they exceed the monthly allowance. 

BT 

Customers with BT won’t need to worry about roaming charges in Europe, as its ‘Roam Like Home’ add on is still available to all customers at no extra cost.

The pass lets them use minutes, texts and data allowances within certain zones without paying extra roaming charges. 

Customers travelling outside the EU can get 500MB of data for £6 a day with the Travel Data Pass. 

Tesco Mobile 

Some mobile network providers such as O2 and Tesco Mobile will continue to allow customers to use their mobile phone plans in Europe for no extra cost

Some mobile network providers such as O2 and Tesco Mobile will continue to allow customers to use their mobile phone plans in Europe for no extra cost

Tesco Mobile says it has no plans to reintroduce extra data roaming charges in EU countries, and will continue to allow customers to use its ‘Home From Home’ add on for no extra cost.

For those travelling outside of the EU, calls will cost around £1.50 per minute, with 1 MB of data costing £5. 

Customers with Tesco who are setting off to non EU countries can implement a £40 spending cap to help keep costs lower.

O2 

As per Tesco Mobile, O2 says it has no plans to re-introduce roaming charges in Europe as they will be part of customers’ monthly plans.

O2 customers currently have a monthly data limit of 25GB and will be charged £3.50 for each GB after that when abroad.

However, those who are travelling outside of Europe are recommended to  get the O2 Travel Bolt On – which costs £4.99 a day in selected destinations outside Europe.

Customers can pay a single, fixed daily rate which will give them 120 minutes, 120 texts and all the data they need. 

There is no upper usage limit on data, but customers are warned that data speeds might vary. 

What can I do to reduce the cost of my mobile phone charged when going on holiday? 

To keep the cost of your phone bill low when travelling abroad, the first thing you should do is contact your mobile provider to discuss your options, depending on where you are travelling to, and how long you plan to be abroad for.

Some may have suitable options for add-on services, which can give you access to some, or even all of your data and call allowance when abroad for a fixed daily fee.

Turning your phone on airplane mode, sticking to WIFI and setting up a mobile spending cap can help keep the cost of your phone bill down when travelling abroad this summer

Turning your phone on airplane mode, sticking to WIFI and setting up a mobile spending cap can help keep the cost of your phone bill down when travelling abroad this summer

Those on networks such as EE, which don’t currently provide packages for customers to use their regular allowance when abroad, should put in place a spending cap to limit the charges.

EE currently offer a £0 per month spending cap option, which means that customers won’t be charged for data, calls or texts that they accidently use or receive when travelling abroad. 

They should also look to pause their voicemail while away to reduce unnecessary costs. 

For those who have an ‘unlocked’ smart phone that can function with any sim card, it could be worth looking into buying a local, pay-as-you-go sim card on arrival at their destination. 

Some countries outside of the EU offer one-time, or monthly deals on local sim cards which offer data, calls and texts to numbers within that country.

However, it is worth noting that you will not be able to use your own phone number with the additional sim.

Finally, you should make sure to turn off your data roaming settings on your device, and set your phone to airplane mode throughout the course of your journey, using local wifi networks where possible to avoid any additional charges.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here