British holidaymakers will no longer have to pay extra fees to use their phones in Europe, thanks to the introduction of new EU regulation earlier this month.
Mobile users can now call, text and browse the web at no extra cost above their contract allowance.
However, each mobile operator has slightly different ‘fair usage’ caps their customers will need to be wary of. Plus each network casts their free-to-roam net to include different places.
We have rounded up all of the major network’s roaming policies to make sure you don’t get caught out and end up with a shock bill at the end of your trip.
Overseas roaming: Make sure you check your network’s fair usage caps before you leave
The new rules
All networks must now scrap overseas charges in the all countries within the EU.
That means any data used or minutes and texts to the UK or within the same country cost nothing extra if they come out of your contract allowances or the cash you have topped up with.
Watch out as there may be slightly different charges for calls or texts cross border and when you call EU countries from the UK.
Most networks won’t require you to do anything, you will simply not be charged any extra to use your mobile while you are in these countries.
Watch out though, if you are a Pay As You Go customer you may have to buy a special add-on with your top-up money to activate it, but the costs will be the same whether using your phone at home or other countries within the EU.
You will still need to be careful about data usage as most providers apply a ‘fair usage’ cap – a total amount you can use before it starts charging.
Each network has a different policy on this (see below).
Why are some networks offering more destinations than others?
Some networks count the number of EU countries slightly differently, including islands or regions attached to some countries as a separate destination, while others count them together.
For example, some may include Madeira or the Canary Islands separately or under the umbrella of Portugal or Spain.
Some destinations such as the Channel Islands, some Eastern European countries and the Isle of Man are not part of the EU and so technically providers don’t have to waive roaming fees. But many networks choose to nonetheless.
Some networks also cover countries in the European Economic Area. And there are a few that offer popular destinations further afield such as the US or Australia as part of the deal.
Here’s a list of all of the countries you can now use your mobile at no extra cost – alternatively scroll down to find out where exactly your includes.
FREE ROAMING DESTINATIONS
|EU countries included by all
||Saint Martin (French),
|Countries within EEA included by EE, O2, Vodafone, ID, Three, GiffGaff
|Additional destinations included by EE, O2 Pay Monthly, Vodafone, Three, ID
||Switzerland (excluding iD)
||Isle of Man
|Included by EE and Vodafone, ID, O2 Pay Monthly
EE is offering free roaming in 47 destinations – this is made up of the 28 EU member countries plus those in the EEA and some bonus destinations – Switzerland, Monaco, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.
Here’s a full list – Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar (UK), Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin (French), San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Vatican City,Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.
Those taking out one of its 4GEE Max plans also get free roaming in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand widening their net to 53 locations.
You can use up to 15GB of data with EE. Those who go beyond their contract limit or beyond the 15GB cap can buy an add-on. You get 100MB for 78p, 500MB for £3.90 and 1GB for £7.80.
Swiss Alps: Switzerland is not covered by new EU rules, but some networks still include it
O2 pay-monthly customers can use their allowances for free in 47 locations. Just as with EE this number includes both the EU and those in the EEA and some extra destinations.
Here’s the full list – Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Vatican City
Those with a pay-as-you-go SIM card will be charged to use their mobiles in Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Monaco and Switzerland, but Pay Monthly customers won’t.
Pay as you go – The O2 website says that those on a £30 Big Bundle with a 20GB data allowance do have a cap for ‘fair usage’ while in Europe of 10GB. It costs 0.00597p per MB after that.
Pay Monthly – You can use your whole data allowance. For extra data beyond your limit you can add a Bolt On – the options and cost are the same as if you were in the UK.
Vodafone was the first to announce a Roam Free deal back in April. It includes some non-EU destinations such as the Channel Islands and Switzerland, and unlike some includes holiday hotspot Turkey.
It also covers destinations such as Albania and Bosnia which have applied for EU inclusion but are not fully fledged members yet.
Here’s the full list – Albania, Estonia, Italy (inc Vatican City), Portugal (incl. Madeira), Austria, Finland, Latvia, Republic of Ireland, Belgium, France, Liechtenstein, Romania, Bosnia, French West Indies, Lithuania, San Marino, Bulgaria, Germany, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey), Gibraltar, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Monaco, Spain (incl. Canary Islands), Cyprus, Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden, Czech Republic, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark (inc Faroe Islands Isle of Man, Poland and Turkey.
There is no fair usage cap for Vodafone customers.
As a Vodafone customer you can use all of your data allowance when travelling abroad. To add a bundle it costs £6 for 1GB and £10 for 2GB as a Pay Monthly customer, if you don’t buy one of these you pay £6.50 for every 250MB.
Down under: ID won’t charge you any more to use your mobile in Australia
ID, an off-shoot of the Carphone Warehouse, is offering one of the largest selections of destinations to all customers at 50.
These include – Austria, Azerbaijan, Azores, Belarus, 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, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Réunion, Romania, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Vatican City.
Plus those with a Takeaway Plan can also roam for free in the USA and Australia.
The amount of data you can use will depend on what your limits are and how much you pay each month – you can check here.
But as an example, someone paying £30 per month for 10GB of data will have a cap of 7.68GB.
The charge for going beyond your limit is 0.076p per MB.
Three will now offer the best choice of locations to use your mobile at no extra cost.
It has announced that it is boosting its Feel At Home line up – available to all Advance Plan customers – with a further 2 destinations bringing the total to 60.
There are 17 holiday hotspots outside of Europe including USA, Australia and Hong Kong and most recently Singapore and Brazil.
Pay-as-you-go customers and those on an Essentials Plan don’t qualify for free use in these places unfortunately.
Here’s the full list –
Spain, Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, France, Switzerland, Israel, Finland, Aland Islands, Norway, USA, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Macau, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Vatican City, Austria, Hong Kong, Sweden, Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Azores, Madeira, Réunion, Croatia, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Malta, Lithuania, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Iceland, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, San Marino, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey, Singapore, Brazil, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin.
Those on All-you-can-eat packages won’t actually be able to use as much data, calls and texts as they want -the cap stands at 12GB.
As a Pay As You Go customer you can use your top-up to buy an Add-on which gives you an allowance to use overseas. It also comes with a cap, on data of 9GB.
Any data usage over these limits come with a surcharge of up 0.73p per MB ( 0.78p per MB from 1 July 2017)
Italian escape: You can now use your calls, text and data allowances to contact the UK from all 28 EU member countries
Giff Gaff is a favourite among savvy mobile customers as it offers some of the cheapest deals on the market and doesn’t tie you in to a lengthy contract.
Here is the full list – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.
The network has applied some hefty charges when using your mobile in countries other networks include in their free-roaming net – Switzerland, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Monaco.
For example, a single MB of data costs 20p in Switzerland, calls cost £1 per minute and texts cost 30p.
Once you use up your data allowance, you will be charged 0.78p per MB while roaming, or you can start your next plan early.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Here are your rights when roaming outside the EU, according to consumer champion and author Helen Dewdney,
1) All mobile operators have to apply a cut-off limit once you have incurred charges for €50 (excluding VAT) – around £36 – worth of data per month, wherever you travel in the world, unless you choose another limit.
2) The provider must send you an alert to your phone when you reach 80 per cent and then 100 per cent of the agreed data roaming limit. Operators must stop charging for data at the 100 per cent point, unless you agree to continue to use data.
3) Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading (Amendment) Regulations 2014, the retailer must ensure the customer understands what goods and services are being provided and ensure that there are no hidden costs. If the paperwork does not comply with the new requirements the consumer may not have to pay. When retailers send you email confirmation of the purchase this must now include a full description of the goods and services purchased, including their characteristics and the full price including tax and any additional charges or delivery prices.
4) Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, traders must also provide services with reasonable skill and care.
What will happen after Brexit?
There are no answers yet to what will happen after we leave the EU if no separate deal is reached over roaming charges but some experts think networks are unlikely to switch back to hefty fees.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at comparison site uSwitch.com, says: ‘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.’
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