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EU roaming charges abolished: five things you need to know

Read then roam. In that order.
International roaming hero

After years of bill shock and back and forth between networks and legislators, roaming charges have finally been abolished in the European Union (EU).

The result is that Britons can now use their UK allowances while they're holidaying in the EU, with nothing extra to pay.

But while the move is to be welcomed, there are some caveats you need to be aware of. So with no further ado...

1 Use allowances just like you would at home

Guide - Person using a phone

For casual travellers and holidaymakers bound for Spain, Greece or Portugal’s beaches, the end of roaming charges is a huge boon.

On a basic level, it means you can head to any EU country and use your call, text and data allowance without having to pay an extra fees on top.

The aim is to bring an end to so–called bill shock headlines in newspapers, where consumers returned home to find the cost of using their phone while abroad was more than the they’d spent on the holiday itself.

2 But not all of Europe is covered

eu flag european union

The likes of Switzerland and Turkey are not covered by the EU’s new roaming regulations, as they are not part of the union.

That means you could still face charges if you’re not on a special tariff such as Three’s Feel At Home or Vodafone’s recently launched Roam Free.

Before travelling, check with your network if you’re concerned about paying additional fees.

3 And additional data, calls or texts could cost you

Paying your mobile phone bill

Going over your data, calls or text allowance while travelling could see you paying local rates, despite the end of roaming charges.

When you go over here in the UK, your rates will be outlined by your network, but these can vary wildly from country to country when abroad.

If you’re concerned you might not have enough data to use Facebook on the beach or call back home to tell your better half your trip’s going swimmingly, then be sure to buy extra before you jet off.

It's also worth noting that networks apply a fair usage cap for data too. So your allowance for data usage in the EU won't be as high as your UK allowance.

The upshot is that if you're not careful, you could rack up unexpected charges.

4 The Brexit question

Brexit egg eu

It’s unclear whether Brexit will impact roaming once the UK leaves the European Union. But that didn't stop us asking uSwitch mobiles expert Ernest Doku for a prediction.

He told us: “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.”

5 Not all inclusive roaming schemes are created equal

three feel at home

With roaming ostensibly free within the EU, the next battleground for networks stands outside the union.

Three’s Feel At Home package already includes the USA and Australia, among others, while Vodafone’s Roam Free extends to 49 destinations, including islands in the Caribbean.

If you’re a jetsetter, these are the deals that are worth seeking out, as they cost a minimal amount extra but provide massive savings compared with using your phone without a dedicated package.

Network roaming scheme Who does it apply to? Cost Destinations covered Fair usage (applies if data tariff is above amount mentioned)
Three Feel at Home All Advanced plans None 60 destinations 12GB. Can spend up to 2 months in roaming zone over 12 month rolling contract period
Vodafone Roam Free All customers on new monthly plans None 50 destinations None. Can spend up to 2 months in roaming zone over 4 month period
Vodafone Roam Further All customers on new pay monthly plans £5 per day to use your UK plan 60 destinations None. Can spend up to 2 months in roaming zone over 4 month period
EE Max Plan roaming All 4GEE Max Plan None 53 destinations 15GB. Can spend up to 60 days in roaming zone over 120-day period
O2 Europe Zone Usage All customers on new pay monthly plans (not PAYG) None 47 Europe Zone destinations 10GB. Can spend up to 60 days in roaming zone over 120-day period
Tesco Mobile Home from Home All customers on pay monthly or PAYG plans None 48 Europe Zone destinations + 6 12GB. Can spend up to 60 days in roaming over 120-day period
Plusnet Mobile Roam Like Home All customers on pay monthly or PAYG plans None 52 Europe Zone destinations 15GB. Can spend up to 60 days in roaming over 120-day period
Sky Roaming Passport All customers on pay monthly plans None 36 Europe Zone destinations None
BT Roam Like at Home All customers on pay monthly plans None 47 destinations 15GB. Can spend up to 60 days in roaming zone over 120-day period
iD Mobile Roam Like at Home All customers on pay monthly plans None 52 destinations Only applies to some SIM only customers. Can spend up to 60 days in roaming zone over 120-day period

Looking for more information about roaming? Head to our comprehensive guide.

Category: Features
Tagged: networks, roaming
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