Mobile Roaming Charges in Europe – What You Need To Know
While our phones are a vital component in our day to day lives, it could be said their even more important when we’re abroad. In this digital-first world they’re a necessity for holding plane and transport tickets, to pull up hotel bookings, and display our COVID-19 cert in all its glory. They also act like a personal concierge service giving us the lowdown on where’s good to eat/stay/visit, providing on-the-go directions and enabling us to snap away Insta-worthy pics.
So it’s a real blow that the end of the transition period for leaving the European Union has meant some phone operators are removing the ability to use our phone plan’s inclusive data, calls and texts while travelling in Europe.
But there’s still plenty that we can still do to keep our roaming charges in check. Here’s what you need to know about the changes, charges, and extra tips to save on costs.
What are the new roaming charges?
Virgin Mobile: No extra charges for the moment.
O2: Owned by the same parent company as Virgin Mobile, they too have no extra charges for the moment.
Vodafone: From 31 January 2022, roaming costs on Vodafone depend on which phone plan you have. As is the case now, you aren’t able to use Sim-only plans outside of the UK and Ireland. Most other tariffs offer roaming at £2 a day in the EU for those who joined or upgraded after 11 August 2021. Its premium Xtra plans will include roaming at no extra charge. Hurrah!
Three: From 23 May 2022, Three customers who joined or upgraded after 1 October 2021 will pay £2 a day for roaming in the EU (as well as £5 a day for countries outside the EU where it might have previously been free to use).
EE: From 3 March 2022, EE will charge £2 a day in Europe for those who joined or upgraded their contracts after 7 July 2021.
Note that no company will charge for roaming in the Republic of Ireland.
The ‘fair use’ rule
Roaming use is defined as ‘fair use’ – so if you’re thinking about going on a downloading spree all day every day while abroad, you’ll most likely be charged extra for that! Data caps range from 12GB to 20GB a month depending on your operator, with a £3-3.50 charge for each GB used after that.
You’ll also be charged extra if you spend more than half your time abroad – more than 62 days in a four-month period, to be precise. You’ll get alerted before that happens.
Eight tips to reduce costs abroad
Change your phone plan
If you’re planning to go abroad a few times a year, it’s worth revisiting your plan to switch to a roaming-friendly one. For example, Vodafone’s Xtra plans will stave off the daily charges, and Three’s charges don’t apply to its pay-as-you-go-SIM.
Turn off roaming on your phone.
You can do this in your settings. If you leave it off for a 24-hour period in that country, you won’t be charged for that day. But it does mean you won’t be able to send or receive calls in this mode.
Use wi-fi wherever possible
Even if you have roaming turned off, you’re able to connect from your hotel, cafés, or in many cities, public wi-fi. Just don’t choose an unfamiliar network as it could bring up security issues!
Keep an eye on the 80% text
So that you’re not hit with extra, out-of-plan costs, you’ll be notified when you’ve reached 80% and 100% of your data allowance. So use it to know if you need to curb your use, or if you’re doing just fine
Buy a new SIM for travelling
Check prices to see if using a local SIM on a short contract or pay-as-you-go plan will be cheaper than roaming costs. Or to sort it out before you travel, Three’s pay-as-you-go SIM avoids the upcoming roaming fees. Both options mean you won’t be able to access your usual number, and you’ll need an unlocked phone to use it.
Download before you go
Because costly data is an issue across the world, tech companies have made it easier to download much of what we need in advance. From area street maps to whole TV series, plan what you’ll need ahead of time.
Look into roaming packages
Many phone companies will soon offer packages for those using roaming for a longer duration. For example, Vodafone have eight and 15 day passes, and EE customers can buy a 30-day Roam Abroad Pass for £10 – check with your phone operator to see what they can do.
Set a spend cap
If you’re fearful of returning home to find that your bill has doubled, check with your operator to put a spend cap on your account. You’ll get a message when you reach 80% of your limit, so you know to be frugal with the roaming after that, or admit defeat and change the spend cap!
Switched On’s Gadget Insurance policies provide automatic worldwide cover for your personal gadgets, up to 120 days* of travel per year. While its travel insurance policies include up to £1000* of gadget cover automatically, with the option to upgrade gadget protection up to £3,000*. Click here to find out more.
Please note the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing but please check with your network provider for the most up to date information about mobile roaming charges.
*Depending on cover level chosen. T&Cs apply.