EU Roaming Charges Are Back: Here’s What You Need To Know

EU Roaming Charges Are Back: Here’s What You Need To Know

A lot has changed since we left the EU. One major change is the way you use your phone when you are abroad. In the past, mobile phone companies were not allowed to charge you extra fees for using your phone when you were in the EU. Since Brexit, free mobile roaming in EU countries is no longer guaranteed. This means that you may already be paying more to use your phone in certain EU countries. In this blog we will have a look at what the new charges are, when they will start and share top tips to avoid accidental high bills.

What are the new EU roaming charges and when will they start?

The big networks, such as Vodafone, EE and Three have all decided to reintroduce EU roaming fees, charging £2 per day (1). Virgin and O2 currently have no plans to reintroduce EU roaming fees. So, what are the charges and when are they being introduced?

EU roaming charges of £2 per day

Network Starts Unless you joined/renewed before
Vodafone (1) 31st January 2022 11th August 2021
EE 3rd March 2022 7th July 2021
Three 23rd May 2022 1st October 2021

(1) Vodafone offers a rate of £1 per day if you buy an 8 or 15-day bundle.

How to avoid EU roaming fees by choosing the right network

If your network provider has announced that it is reintroducing EU roaming fees, there are two things you can do to avoid them.

1. Do not renew with Three, Vodafone or EE

If you are with one of the major network providers who have announced changes to their EU roaming fees, do not renew your contract. Just let it roll on. If your contract started before a certain date, you could keep the benefits. If you do not recontract, you will have to pay the same price each month. Be cautious though, as Three is known to have forced customers to recontract.

2. Switch to a provider that is still offering free roaming

O2 and some smaller networks have not reintroduced EU roaming fees yet, but it is likely that they will start doing so in the future. If you take out a new contract now, you can keep the benefits of not having to pay for EU roaming even after the other firms start charging. Although Three is no longer offering free EU roaming for pay-monthly customers, it will still offer free EU roaming on its pay-as-you-go sims.

Top Tips you can follow to avoid accidental high bills

1. Turn roaming off on your phone

If you have automatic updates on your phone, it might try to connect to the nearest signal without you realising it. This can cause you to accidentally run up a huge bill. The easiest way to avoid charges when you are traveling is to turn off roaming. For Apple products Open Settings and tap on Mobile Data, Cellular or Cellular Data. Turn off Mobile Data by sliding the button to the left. Tap on Mobile Data Options and turn off Data Roaming. If you have an Android device, open Settings, tap Connections and then tap Mobile networks. Swipe the button next to Data roaming to the left to turn it off. If you are going to be travelling outside of the EU, the costs of roaming can be even higher, so do not take any risks.

2. Use WiFi to make calls

The best way to save money on your phone bill is to use WiFi. You can usually find WiFi for free in most hotels, restaurants and bars. Not only can you use it to browse the web, but you can also use it to make calls. If you have a smartphone and free internet access, you can download ‘internet-to-phone’ calling apps such as Skype, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger before you travel. You can also use Apple’s FaceTime. If the person you are calling also has the service, you just need to find a free WiFi spot to call for free.

3. Download music, movies and documents before you travel

Make sure your phone is ready for your trip by saving your favourite music, movies, apps and boarding passes before you travel. Google Maps, available on iOS and Android, allows you to store maps so that you can use them without data. This means that you can use the GPS function on your smartphone to navigate around the place you are visiting without paying roaming charges if you have downloaded the offline maps. View how to download Google Maps to use offline.

4. Check the local rate before you travel

You might still be able to use your UK allowance in a few countries outside the UK, but some providers have a limit on the amount of data you can use. This will change soon as Vodafone, EE and Three have already reintroduced EU roaming fees. Vodafone has already ended free EU roaming, with EE and Three ending soon. Right now, a sim with Three offers you the best chance of having your destination covered. Customers with the ‘advanced’ plan can use their allowance in 71 different places around the world, including Australia, Singapore and the USA. This offer ended for anyone who signed up or renewed on or from 1st October 2021, but you can still get a Three sim on pay-as-you-go and get the roaming benefits, as the changes do not affect pay-as-you-go customers.

5. Be careful when on a cruise or at sea

Be extra careful of using your phone on a cruise or at sea. Even if you are setting sail in Europe, it is easy to accidentally connect to a maritime network or a neighbouring country, which may be more expensive because it is considered outside of Europe. To be safe, use any free WiFi options on the boat. You can also restrict use of your phone to days when you are back on dry land. Always check the network your phone connects to.

6. Be extra careful when travelling further afield

Roaming fees when travelling outside of Europe can be expensive. If you are outside of Europe, you will be charged to receive calls from a UK number and it can cost as much as £3 per minute. To avoid this, buy a local sim card when you arrive at your destination. This will give you a foreign phone number, but then those at home will be charged international rates to call you. If you have WiFi access, ask them to call you via Skype or WhatsApp.

7. Voicemail could cost you a small fortune – Turn it off

You can be charged a lot if someone else leaves you a voicemail message. It all depends on the network you are on and the country you are in, but in some cases can cost as much as £1.88 per minute to receive a voicemail and a further £1.88 per minute to listen to it. Your best bet is to turn off your voicemail, to stop people being able to leave you a message. Each network has different instructions on how to turn off voicemail, so find out how and make sure you turn of off before you leave.

8. Data caps will not necessarily protect you

The UK Government has set a limit of £45 on the amount you can be charged for international roaming. If you sign up to a network’s roaming add-on, you could accidentally opt out of the limit. The limit does not cover calls or texts, so you could still run up a huge bill at up to £3 per minute. Read network terms carefully before taking on a new bundle and always keep a close eye on your data usage. For more information about limits visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/using-your-mobile-in-eu-and-eea-countries

Although the reintroduction of roaming charges in EU can be tricky to navigate, by following the tips we have outlined in this post, you can make sure you do not get caught out by unexpected roaming fees while travelling in Europe this summer.

For further advice feel free to call our team of experts at Comms Connect on 0345 370 5000
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