Roaming charges in Europe: every major network’s plan and how it affects you

It was maybe inevitable, however one of many unwanted side effects of Brexit is that European roaming costs at the moment are returning for no less than one community, with some others lowering their truthful use limits.

Meaning while you journey to European international locations chances are you’ll quickly both should pay to make use of your cellphone’s information allowance, or begin paying for information when you hit a sure cap, which both didn’t exist earlier than or was beforehand larger.

The precise phrases fluctuate from community to community, and we don’t have all the small print but, however you’ll discover what we do know under. It’s price checking again right here quickly as properly, as a result of we’ll replace this text as quickly as we be taught extra.

What are roaming costs?

Roaming costs consult with an additional price you pay on high of your customary cellphone contract minutes, SMS and information allowance when utilizing your cellphone overseas. Holidaymakers racking up hundreds of kilos in payments was an everyday function of stories headlines. 

Since 2017, the EU’s ‘Roam Like at Dwelling’ initiative banned cell networks from charging for roaming inside member states. This utilized equally to Brits overseas and EU residents within the UK.

Brexit has now modified that, and residents of the UK are not lined by ‘Roam Like at Dwelling’ by default.

Roaming on EE

EE

(Picture credit score: EE)

Roaming throughout Europe (aside from Eire) on EE will quickly get much more costly, as the corporate has introduced that from January 1, 2022 it should cost £2 per day to entry your traditional allowance of minutes, texts and information when roaming in 47 European locations.

That’s a giant change from the free roaming that’s at the moment provided, however it should solely apply to new and upgrading prospects who take out an EE plan from July 7, 2021. So if you happen to’re a present buyer then you possibly can probably delay getting these costs if you happen to don’t change your plan after that date.

One other technique to keep away from these costs is with a 30-day Roam Overseas Go, which you’ll have the ability to choose as a perk on Sensible and Full Works plans. These are premium plans and the perks you get don’t price further, however selecting this may presumably imply you gained’t have the ability to take one of many different non-compulsory advantages.

For those who’re not on one in every of these dear plans then you can even pay £10 for a 30-day Roam Overseas Go. So if you happen to’re planning to roam for greater than 5 days in a given month then that could possibly be a less expensive choice.

There are seemingly no caps right here, that means you possibly can presumably use as much as limitless information (you probably have a vast information plan) for that £2 per day, or with the Roam Overseas Go.

Nonetheless, that is costlier for many prospects than the approaches Three and O2 are taking (extra on which under), and it’s particularly disappointing on condition that simply final 12 months EE claimed no changes were coming, saying: “Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and beyond, and we don’t have any plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome. So our customers going on holiday and travelling in the EU will continue to enjoy inclusive roaming.”

Kester Mann, Director at CCS Insight and mobile industry analyst, told TechRadar, “Roaming is a poisonous term for consumers after travellers were hit by exorbitant prices for years. 

“But this is also a far cry from the bad old days. EE’s £2 per day charge represents a fraction of the cost of an EU holiday.”

These changes apply to roaming in Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Canary Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Guyana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal (including Madeira), Reunion Islands, Romania, San Marino, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including Canary Islands), Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City.

Roaming on O2

O2

(Image credit: O2)

From August 2, 2021, O2 will start applying a 25GB cap to European roaming allowances, meaning that if you have a data allowance of over 25GB, you’ll only be able to use up to 25GB per month for roaming in Europe at no extra cost.

Obviously if your domestic data allowance is less than 25GB then you can use your full allowance. If you go over your roaming allowance then you’ll be charged £3.50 per gigabyte.

It’s worth noting that customers on unlimited data plans already have this restriction, and that according to O2, fewer than 1% of the company’s pay monthly customers get close to using 25GB of data when roaming anyway.

So this is unlikely to affect many people, but it does mean that if you are a heavy data user in Europe then things could get quite expensive – though O2 will text you when you approach your limit and again when you reach it, so there shouldn’t be any surprises.

These changes apply to roaming in O2’s ‘Europe Zone’, meaning Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City.

There’s currently no limit to how many minutes or texts you can use while roaming in these places (within your UK allowance) and that will presumably remain the case after these changes, as O2 hasn’t said otherwise.

Roaming on Three

Three UK

(Image credit: Three UK)

From July 1 of this year (2021) Three will impose a 12GB data cap when roaming in the EU, where currently there’s a 20GB cap. This change brings the cap in line with its ‘Go Roam Around the World’ locations – those countries outside Europe where Three also allows free roaming.

There’s no change to the surcharge, meaning that if you use more than 12GB (or more than your domestic data allowance if that’s lower) you’ll be charged 0.3p per megabyte, or £3 per gigabyte.

Three has only talked about data here, so presumably you’ll still be able to use as many minutes and texts as you want (within your normal allowance).

The destinations affected by these changes on Three are Aland Islands, Austria, Azores, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Réunion, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City.

Roaming on Vodafone

Vodafone 5G

(Image credit: Vodafone)

A Vodafone UK spokesperson has told TechRadar that: “We have no current plans to change our approach to roaming in the EU,” which is in line with its comments back in 2020.

This could make it the outlier in terms of the UK’s main networks. That said, it was already one of the more restrictive networks on that front, as there’s a 25GB fair usage limit applied when roaming with any plan of 25GB or more.

So for the time being that will continue in the network’s 51 included European roaming locations, and there’s no limit to the amount of minutes or texts you can use (within your standard allowance).

Of course, Vodafone’s comment does leave the possibility of future changes open, it’s just not changing yet.

Roaming on other networks

Many smaller UK networks have yet to reveal plans, but we’ve asked each for an update. We’ve heard back from Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile, and you can read statements from each network below.

Sky Mobile

“Sky Mobile customers will not be charged roaming charges in EU countries and will be able to continue to use their data, call and text allowances as they do in the UK.”

Tesco Mobile

We have no current plans to reintroduce EU roaming charges.”

EE has also confirmed to TechRadar that BT Mobile and other MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) that use EE’s infrastructure, such as Plusnet Mobile, have not announced what if any changes there will be to their roaming terms.

The UK’s other mobile networks, such as Giffgaff or iD Mobile, are also yet to comment on how the roaming situation will change, but we’d expect in most cases it will.

Notably, EE is run by BT, which also owns Plusnet Mobile, so don’t be surprised if BT Mobile and Plusnet Mobile see similar changes to EE.

Likewise, VOXI and Talkmobile are owned by Vodafone, and Smarty Mobile is owned by Three.

How else can you avoid roaming charges when abroad?

The good news is that these days you can travel without having to rely on your phone signal alone. Wi-Fi hotspots are fast, reliable and everywhere. And they’re easy to find thanks to WiFi Map.

Simply be sure to flip roaming off in your settings. Not making calls or utilizing the web isn’t sufficient – as your cellphone may nonetheless be utilizing information within the background. 

For those who want a cell connection that’s… you realize, cell and never tethered to a specific place, you should purchase native SIM playing cards in some international locations. However your cellphone should be unlocked and also you would possibly nonetheless pay further to name the UK. 

Long run, you would take into consideration switching networks. Three’s ‘Go Roam’ scheme is likely one of the finest for globetrotters, successful U-Swap’s Greatest Community for Worldwide Roaming 2020. Bear in mind that there’s that new 12GB restriction, although.

Whereas its Superior contract provides the identical deal in as much as 71 locations – together with the EU, US and Hong Kong – for round £three or £four extra a month.