International Roaming Fees – A Guide

International roaming fees can be expensive, especially if you are not prepared for them. In this blog, we will discuss what international roaming fees are and what the major UK network providers have to offer. We will also give you a few handy tips to keep costs down when travelling abroad.

If you use your mobile phone while travelling internationally (outside the EU), you will have to pay extra for making calls, sending texts and using data. This is called international roaming fees. The amount you are charged to use your phone in another country will depend on the country you are visiting and your network provider. Before you travel, it is always worth checking roaming fees with your network provider.

If you are going to be using your phone a lot while abroad, it might be worth considering an international roaming package from your network provider. These often offer inclusive calls and texts, as well as discounted rates for data usage. Here is what the major UK network providers have to offer:

O2

O2 is the only major UK network provider that still includes free EU roaming in its plans. Covering 48 destinations this is a great option if you frequently travel in Europe. For those who travel further abroad, O2 offer the following options:

  • O2 Travel Bolt On – For £6 per day, you can use data, texts and minutes according to your plan in selected destinations. O2 unlimited plans are subject to fair use policy, which with O2 is 25Gb per month when abroad.
  • With selected O2 Refresh and SIM-only tariffs, you get the O2 Travel Inclusive Zone Bolt On as part of your plan. With this you can roam in 27 international destinations at no extra cost.

For more information about International Roaming with O2, visit https://www.o2.co.uk/shop/international/using-phone-abroad

Vodafone

If you are a Vodafone customer who joined or upgraded on or after 11th August 2021 you will be subject to new roaming policies. Vodafone’s international roaming destinations are split into four ‘zones’:

  • Zone A: Ireland and the Isle of Man
  • Zone B: 49 European destinations
  • Zone C: 32 Worldwide destinations
  • Zone D: 73 Worldwide destinations

To use your UK plan abroad, you will have to pay a daily fee. Depending on the zone you are visiting and the plan you have, different rates may apply:

  • Most Vodafone plans come with free roaming in Zone A, but you need to pay £2 per day to use your UK plan in Zone B (Europe) and £6 per day for Zone C and Zone D
  • Limited data Xtra plan with 4 Xtra benefits – You get inclusive roaming in Zone A and Zone B, but for Zone C and Zone D you need to pay £6 per day
  • Unlimited data Xtra plan with 4 Xtra benefits – You get inclusive roaming in Zones A, B and C, but for Zone D you need to pay £6 per day
  • Vodafone Basics – The cheapest plan offers no inclusive roaming, so you will need to pay extra if you travel to any of the roaming zones

For more information about International Roaming with Vodafone, visit https://www.vodafone.co.uk/mobile/global-roaming

EE

If you joined or upgraded with EE on or after 7 July 2021, you need to pay £2 per day when you travel within the EU. If your plan has Smart Benefits, you can choose ‘Roam Abroad’ as a benefit. This allows you to use your phone as you would in the UK without any extra charges. ‘Roam Abroad’ covers 47 EU countries as well as USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

If you do not have smart benefits, you can still buy a ‘Roam Abroad’ pass for £10 per month. You can add it to your plan and cancel it anytime which will save you from paying £2 per day if you are travelling in the EU for more than 5 days. The only downside is that it does not cover many international destinations.

For more information about International Roaming with EE, visit 

https://ee.co.uk/help/help-new/roaming-costs


Three

Three offers two ‘Go Roam’ Schemes, ‘Go Roam in Europe’ and ‘Go Roam Around the World.’ Both schemes are available on all plans except Essential Plans. For a daily charge of £2 in Europe and £5 worldwide, you will be able to access your UK plan as normal, for 24 hours. EU roaming is subject to a fair usage policy, which limits the amount of data you can use, while international roaming is not. The ‘Go Roam Around the World’ scheme covers 71 countries including USA, Australia and popular locations in South America. Three also has a Data Passport add-on which lets you use unlimited data for £5 per day. The Data Passport covers 89 destinations, some of which are not covered by the ‘Go Roam’ scheme.
For more information about International Roaming with Three, visit https://www.three.co.uk/Support/Roaming_and_international/Roaming_abroad

Virgin Mobile

If you are a Virgin mobile customer on a pay-monthly plan you get free roaming in 43 EU countries. Unfortunately, Virgin does not allow you to use your UK plan outside the EU and they do not offer any add-ons to reduce the cost of international roaming. This makes Virgin an expensive option if you are travelling outside the EU. You will be charged high rates for calls, texts and data (up to £12.50 per MB) depending on where you visit.
For more information about International Roaming with Virgin Mobile, visit
https://www.virginmedia.com/help/virgin-media-roaming-hub

BT Mobile

If you are a pay monthly customer with BT, their ‘Roam Like Home’ scheme allows you to use your UK plan in 47 EU countries for free. If you are travelling further afield, you can buy a ‘Travel Data Pass’ for £6 per day. This covers 12 selected countries including USA, Australia, China and India and gives you 500MB per day.
For more information about International Roaming with BT Mobile, visit
https://www.bt.com/products/mobile/about/data-roaming

Always check with your network provider before you travel. This way you can be prepared for the costs and make sure that you do not get any nasty surprises when you get home. In addition to getting the best roaming plan from your network, here are a few tips to keep international roaming fees as low as possible:

Use a local SIM card: This is the simplest way to avoid roaming fees. You can buy a local SIM card when you arrive at your destination and use that instead of your UK SIM. This will give you a local number and you will only be charged for calls and texts made within the country.
Use WiFi: Another way to avoid roaming fees is to use WiFi whenever possible. If you can connect to a WiFi network, you will not be charged for data usage. You can make calls and send messages via the internet through applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook, or Skype.
Limit your mobile usage: If you are not able to use a local SIM card or connect to WiFi, then you will need to limit your mobile usage. This may mean only using your phone for essential calls and texts to avoid data roaming entirely.
Turn data roaming off: You can also avoid roaming fees by turning data roaming off on your mobile phone. This will prevent you from using data while you are abroad, but you will still be able to make and receive calls and texts.

For further advice on travel bundles and add-ons, contact Comms Connect on 020 8457 2470
or visit www.commsconnect.co.uk

Happy Travels!

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