Mobile roaming charges for EU compared, including Vodafone, EE and O2
MOBILE phone companies including Three, O2, EE and Vodafone have all announced that they are bringing back mobile phone roaming charges this summer.
This means that instead of using your phone abroad for free, you will have to pay for calls, data and messages.
Roaming in the EU was free, but after Brexit mobile phone operators can choose whether to charge you or not.
Some have decided to keep things totally free in EU countries, while others will charge over a certain limit.
Most companies have something called a “fair usage” policy, which says how much data you can use while roaming.
Above this you’ll usually have to pay, but while some networks will bill you at your usual UK rate, others will charge more because you’re abroad.
Here’s our round up of the networks that are free and how much the other providers will cost:
Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Plusnet and Virgin Mobile are keeping roaming free for now.
This means if you’re with one of these networks, using your phone across the EU then it will cost exactly the same as in the UK.
If you’re within your data limits that means you can browse, use WhatsApp and check social media for free.
If you go outside your data package then you’ll be charged extra but at your usual UK rates.
How does text-to-switch work?
TEXT-to-switch makes it quicker and easier to leave your mobile company by giving you control over how much contact you have with your existing provider.
This is how it works:
Text ‘PAC’ to 65075 – and keep your mobile number
- Text ‘PAC’ to 65075 to start the process
- The existing provider will text back within a minute and send the PAC number which will be valid for 30 days
- The provider’s reply must also include information about any early termination charges or pay-as-you-go balances
- The customer then gives the PAC number to their new provider
- The new provider must arrange for the switch to complete within one working day
Text ‘STAC’ to 75075 – and get a new mobile number
- Most people want to keep their number when they switch but one in six do not
- Text ‘STAC’ to 75075 to get a service termination authorisation code
- The rest of the process is the same as above
Text ‘INFO’ to 85075 – and find out more
- If you are unsure about whether you will have to pay early termination charges text ‘INFO’ to 85075
- You will only receive this information
Free roaming up to a cap – then charged
Three, O2, GiffGaff and BT Mobile all give you a set data allowance where roaming in the EU is free.
If you breach that allowance, you’ll then face roaming charges.
When selecting a mobile provider or switching, there are two factors to consider when it comes to roaming.
The first is the data allowance, which is how much you can use before charging begins. The second is the actual cost of data once you go over the limit.
Of these four, BT Mobile had the highest data allowance at 50Gb, but it also had the highest costs above that limit at 10.45p per megabyte – almost 30 times more expensive than the next cheapest provider.
Three has the cheapest data costs at 0.3p per MB, but it will also have the lowest data limits.
Three customers will see their allowance reduced from 20Gb per month to just 12Gb per month since changes came in on July 1.
Plus O2 customers will now pay 0.35p per Mb over the limit of 25Gb per month since the tariff was changed on August 2. This makes it the second cheapest option, but also the second smallest allowance.
GiffGaff charges 0.36p per Mb, but gives a much chunkier allowance of 30Gb of data.
It’s worth checking how much data you’ve used on previous holidays – as if you’re confident you won’t go over the limits then the price is less important.
If you use a lot of data and think you’re likely to breach any allowance then you’ll want the cost to be as low as possible.
How to save on your mobile phone bill
NOT happy with your current mobile phone deal?
If you’re outside the minimum term of your contract then you won’t need to pay a cancellation fee – and you might be able to find a cheaper deal elsewhere.
But don’t just switch contracts because the price is cheaper than what you’re currently paying.
Take a look at how many minutes and texts, as well as how much data you’re using, to find out which deal is best for you.
For example, if you’re a heavy internet user it’s worth finding a deal that accomodates this so you don’t end up spending extra on bundles or add-ons each month.
Also note that if you’re still in your contract period, you might be charged an exit fee.
Ready to look elsewhere? Pay-as-you-go deals are better for people who don’t regularly use their phone, while monthly contracts usually work out cheaper for those who do.
Billmonitor also matches buyers to the best pay-monthly deal based on their previous three months of bills.
It only works if you’re a customer of EE, O2, Three, Vodafone or Tesco Mobile and you’ll need to log in with your online account details.
There’s also MobilePhoneChecker,which has a bill monitoring feature that recommends a tariff based on your monthly usage.
If you’re happy with your provider then it might be worth using your research to haggle a better deal.
Automatic charging for roaming
EE and Vodafone are the only providers so far planning to introduce automatic charges for customers who go abroad.
Both are introducing a flat-rate £2 charge per day, which means you’ll be charged if you browse, phone someone or send a text message.
You can avoid racking up bills by turning off data roaming before you leave the UK – you’ll find this option in the settings of your smartphone.
The new EE rules came in on July 7 this year for any new customers. They’ll also be applied automatically to existing customers who upgrade now that date has passed.
If you’re already an EE user and you don’t upgrade, the charges will come into force from January next year.
If you’re thinking of joining Vodafone as a new customer the new charges will be applied from August 11, but you won’t be charged until January 6 next year.
It also applies to customers renewing their contract as well.
Vodafone does have other options available if you want to save a bit of cash though.
You can halve the daily roaming fee to £1 if you pay either £8 for an eight day package or £15 for a 15 day package – but you’ll only make a saving if you’re planning on using data for this length of time.
No matter which network you are on, you should check the policy before you travel, as providers are allowed to change their rules at any time.
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