EU roaming charges: will it cost to use your phone abroad?
After a long wait, roaming charges in the EU and a few other countries have been abolished.
No longer do you need to fear coming home from a weekend in Berlin or a week in Santorini to find a massive roaming charge bill.
By the end of this guide you'll understand what the changes mean for you.
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What do the roaming charge changes mean?
Before, when you used your mobile phone abroad, you would have to pay higher rates to make calls, send texts and access data.
Now, when you use your phone in the EU and certain other countries to call or text homes, no extra charges will apply. So long as you don’t go over your agreed minutes, texts or data limit.
So, if you use your phone to browse the internet in the EU, you will just use your data allowance as if you were in the UK.
However, if you are making phone calls or texts, be warned: the end of roaming charges only applies to calls or texts to the UK.
So if you phone a French number while in France, it will be as if you are calling a French number while in the UK. Ad therefore you will have to pay accordingly.
However, if you do go over your allowance, more data, texts or minutes will cost you more than usual.
What countries do free roaming charges apply to?
Needless to say, the new roaming charge regulation covers all current 28 members of the European Union. We won't list them all here.
Beyond that, it extends to members of the European Economic Area (EEA). That includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Switzerland is not part of the EEA – however, the new roaming charges rules will also apply there.
Certain providers are also including other countries as part of the shakeup. Vodafone will include Turkey, for example.
Three seems be really be looking ahead, perhaps preparing for a post-Brexit “Global Britain.”
Alongside the EU and EEA, the provider is including as far flung as the US, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Macau, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Israel.
For any more advice about travelling abroad, whether it’s flight rights or how best to exchange up your currency, check out our travel guide section.
Will roaming charges come back when we leave the EU?
As is often the case in politics right now, no one is entirely sure.
It’s perfectly possible that the new roaming charge rules will remain. As mentioned above, non-EU countries in the EEA are included.
If we end up in the EEA when leaving the EU - which is by no means a certainty or even likely – there seems to be no reason why roaming charges will come back.
However, even if we end up not joining the EEA after we leave the EU, other non-EU and non-EEA countries are included in the change.
So, there’s a good chance the end of roaming charges will still apply post-Brexit.
But who knows?
Caught out? Unexpected charges on your mobile phone bill - what to do.
What if I exceed my international data roaming limit?
Remember: while you will have free data roaming in EU and EEA countries now, it is limited to the number of minutes, texts and data your contract entitles you to in the UK.
After that free roaming limit is exceeded, you will have to pay extra.
How much, of course, depends on who your mobile phone provider is:
After you have reached your Vodafone roaming data limit, calls to the UK will cost 55p per minute and texts 25p.
To gain more data, you will need to pay £6.50 per 250MB.
When it scrapped roaming charges, Vodafone was accused of a cynical move to win back customer support.
EE roaming charges are capped at 15GB, despite what your contract is.
After that customers will have to pay for a “bolt on” to continue to browse the internet.
To call the UK on an EE phone in the EU, after you’ve reached your minute limits, will cost you 50p per minute. Texts cost 15p.
Three roaming charges after your limit is reached are as follow: 1p per MB of data, 2p per text and 3p for a call to the UK.
O2 roaming charges vary.
Once you have exceeded your limit for data you will have to buy a “bolt on” to access more data.
How much you will be charged for texts and calls in Europe by O2 after you’ve reached your free roaming limit depends on the type of contract you are on.
If you’re with O2 pay monthly you’ll have to pay 15p per text and 55p a minute for calls to the UK.
O2 pay as you go is a bit more generous. Calls are 35p and texts are 5-14p depending on your plan.
If you’re using your BT Mobile abroad – or at least in the EU or EEA – one you’ve reached your free roaming limit you’ll have to pay 35p per minute for a call, 12p for a text and 10p per MB of data.
Virgin Mobile roaming charges are among the most generous when it comes to using internet abroad.
Once your Virgin Mobile data is used up you can pay just £2 per day for unlimited data.
Calls and texts, however, are a bit pricier, at 45p a minute and 15p a text.
Once your free data roaming for Talk Mobile is used up, more data will cost you £1 per 50MB.
Calls will cost 40p and texts 14p.
Utility Warehouse roaming could costs very much depend on the plan you are on.
Calls can cost anywhere between 0-30p, and data between 2-5MB.
Texts really will set you back at 24p.
Using your Sky mobile abroad after your roaming limit is reached will cost you 10p per call, £10 for 1GB of data and 10p per texts.
Sky Mobile, it seems, only works in multiples of 10.
Should I change mobile provider?
Well, that depends on a lot of things.
If you think you will exceed your data or call allowance abroad, switching to another company that offers more generous excess roaming charges could be a good idea.
Likewise, if you visit Turkey often, Vodafone may be a good option to switch to, as it includes Turkey in its roaming charge-free list of countries.
Three Mobile may be better suited to people who frequently travel to the extra countries it has included. These countries are listed above.
Whatever your needs though, check you aren’t paying more than you should be by running a quick mobile price comparison using out price checker tool.