Commenting on roaming charges being abolished within the European Union as of 15 June 2017, Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, says: “The European Commission has agreed to put an end to roaming charges across all EU countries as of Thursday 15 June 2017. This means travellers can call, text and more importantly, use their mobile data at no extra cost, regardless of the EU country they’re visiting.
“With 37% of Brits incorrectly thinking there are already no charges for using their phone in other EU countries*, this upcoming change is likely to be well received.
“It is, however, important to remember that for many, roaming charges will still stand for countries outside of the EU, such asSwitzerland and Turkey. Consumers should also keep in mind that, as announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in March this year, roaming charges for countries outside of the EU will incur 20% VAT on top of normal network rates from 01 August 2017.
“With some providers such as roaming trailblazer Three already going over and above the 15 June legal requirements with their ‘Feel at Home’ tariffs or iD’s recently announced tariff revisions, those providers looking to stand out would do well to embrace a strategic push into non-EU destinations teamed with a concerted effort to make roaming more affordable regardless of destination – both would serve as a seriously competitive move in an industry where differentiation is key.
“As for the impact Brexit might have on roaming, this is still unclear, though any plans to revert back to a world of roaming at an extra charge would likely be unpalatable for consumers, and so seems an unlikely manoeuvre. The challenge for those providers who might want to steal a march will be in their ability to remain flexible in handling any changes resulting from Brexit. It’ll also come down to how quickly they can broker deals in other countries ahead of the rest. Either way, all signs point to worry-free global roaming becoming anew battleground – and potential point of confusion – amongst providers.”
Top travel tips:
- Before jetting off, check with your provider if you’re covered by the new EU ruling or any roaming they offer as part of your tariff. Some providers will offer more than just the EU destinations so find out before you travel.
- If you face roaming charges for the destination you’re visiting, it is good idea to plan ahead and consider a travel bolt-on that can help keep spend manageable. It’s also good to know the cost of data and calls so you know how quickly you’ll eat through your allowance.
- If the destination you’re visiting won’t see you roaming at no extra charge this summer, it is a good idea to download useful maps before you travel, reducing the temptation to turn on your roaming and potentially rack-up an eye watering bill.
- If you’re a frequent traveller, it might be wise to consider a tariff that offers roaming at no additional cost across multiple destinations, including ones outside of the EU. For example, look out for Three’s ‘Feel at Home’ tariffs that offer roaming at no extra charge in 60 destinations, Vodafone’s ‘Roam Free’ tariffs that cover 50 destinations and for those with iD Mobile, all of their tariffs now including roaming at no extra cost in 50 destinations.
- Many of us will have a roaming cap that helps keep spend in check. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to remove the roaming cap which is designed to protect you from bill shock – once this is lifted, charges can easily rack up and you could face a sky-high bill.