Thousands of us will head off abroad on our summer holidays over the next few weeks, but make sure you check your mobile phone provider’s roaming charges if you want to avoid a nasty bill shock when you get home.


Whilst there weren’t mobile roaming fees to pay when holidaying in Europe when the UK was part of the European Union, following Brexit several networks have brought back roaming charges if you want to use your mobile phone data while you’re away.

Catherine Hilley, mobile and broadband expert at Go.Compare said, “Heading to a new country can be really exciting, and you might need to use your data roaming for all sorts of reasons – whether it’s to look up directions, research local tourist attractions, or stay in touch with friends and family back home. While these are things you can do without incurring additional charges in the UK, they could lead to an unexpected and expensive phone bill when done abroad.

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“UK phone providers used to offer free data roaming throughout the EU. And although networks like O2, Sky Mobile and iD Mobile haven’t reintroduced roaming fees, most others have. It might not be your first thought when planning a holiday, but it’s important to be aware of the data roaming regulations in your mobile contract before you jet off, as this could save you from unexpected charges while away.”

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For example, if you’re a Vodafone contract customer travelling to Spain this summer, you’ll pay £2.25 a day (or £10 for 8 days) up to a limit of 25GB. Once you exceed this limit, you’ll pay £3.13 for each GB used. Similarly, if your network provider is EE and you have a pay monthly handset or SIM plan that began after 7 July 2021, you’ll pay £2.47 to use your minutes, text and data in Europe.

Even if your network doesn’t charge extra if you use mobile data when you’re in Europe, bear in mind that certain limits may apply. For example, O2 won’t charge you extra to use your normal calls, texts and data allowance up to a limit of 25 gigabytes. Once you exceed this limit, you’ll be charged £3.50 a day for any data you use.

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Charges for using your mobile overseas can be even steeper if you’re travelling outside Europe. One way to avoid a bill shock if you use your mobile abroad is to buy an international eSim online before you go. These work by amending your phone’s settings so that you temporarily switch to another provider which provides you with a data allowance to use whole you’re away.

Another way to keep mobile charges down is to make sure you use Wi-fi wherever possible, and also to download anything you want to watch or listen to on your phone before you leave the UK.


The good news is that fewer people should face a bill shock next summer, as new Ofcom rules are due to come into effect this October that mean mobile providers mobile providers must notify customers when they start roaming. They must also provide clear, free to access information so customers can make informed decisions about whether – and how – to use their mobile.

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