What EE, Vodaphone, O2 and others will charge you to use your phone abroad

February 10, 2022 by No Comments

Those heading abroad on holiday this year are being urged to check their mobile phone plan to avoid getting a nasty surprise when they get home.

As a result of Brexit, the rules for using a mobile phone while you are outside the UK have changed.

All the new charges come into effect in 2022 and it is important to be aware of how to keep using your mobile phone when overseas.

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One man has already been caught out by it after finding he had been charged £192,000 for surplus roaming while on holiday in Turkey.

John Nisill, from Skelmersdale in Lancashire, was on a short break with his family to the holiday destination of Marmaris when he ran up the whopping phone bill over just four days.

A spokesman for BT said it will write off the huge bill after John’s story was made public, reports BirminghamLive.

They said: “On this occasion, we are waiving the surplus roaming charges.

“In this case, the customer was on a BT Business mobile plan which included a monthly data allowance of 250MB. When travelling in Turkey he far exceeded his agreed limit by consuming 46GB of data.

“We alerted him several times that he had exceeded his data allowances, that standard roaming charges were in place and that he was incurring high usage.”

What is data roaming?

As EE explains in its information hub: “When you go outside your mobile network provider’s coverage area, your device will start to roam. This means it will search through other available mobile networks and try to use them.

“Roaming works because most mobile network providers have agreements with other mobile network providers outside the country. However, here comes the huge caveat: roaming abroad may come at an extra cost. A big one.

“If you’re roaming and outside the standard network, you can be charged for making calls and sending texts. It depends on the network you’re on. Checking your voicemail can also cost you, as can using apps, downloading pics and documents.

“You can also get charged for browsing, or sending emails. You can forget about posting that bikini selfie to Snapchat, unless it’s so good it’s worth £1.20 for ego-boosting potential.

“Pretty much everything you’d use your phone for is liable to cost you money when roaming. How much you’ll be charged for using data outside the UK is up to your mobile network provider.

“When you switch off roaming, your device won’t be able to hook up to a network automatically. A great option when you’re in the dark over whether the network provider has additional charges for using data abroad. Go to Settings and then Mobile Data on your iPhone, where you can toggle off Data Roaming.”

What difference did Brexit make?

While the UK was part of the European Union, we did not have to pay any additional charges for calls and texts (made or received) while away in another EU country. They cost the same as the domestic rate back home.

There were limits on how much phone data you could use at the domestic rate, so you might run out while listening to music, surfing the internet, watching movies, playing games or using apps. The data allowance overseas depended on your phone contract. Most providers offered a data plan where you could pay a bit extra to carry on using your phone in other European countries without the risk of huge bills.

The law protected people from getting mobile data charges above £45 without being told about it.

However, after Brexit, free mobile roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway has ended.

These are the roaming charges for each phone company.

Data roaming charges for your provider


ROAMING CHARGE: £2 a day, or £10 a month with a Roam Abroad add on

WHEN IT STARTS: March 3, 2022 (for those who started new contracts after July 7, 2021)

EE had said in 2020: “We don’t have any plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome. So our customers going on holiday and travelling in the EU will continue to enjoy inclusive roaming.”

However, it backtracked on that promise and now plans to introduce a charge for roaming in 47 European destinations.

These are: Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Canary Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Guyana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal (including Madeira), Reunion Islands, Romania, San Marino, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including Canary Islands), Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City.

The charges were originally going to be introduced in January 2022, but the company delayed its rollout until March 3, 2022.


ROAMING CHARGE: £2 a day, or £1 a day if you take out an 8-day or 15-day bundle

WHEN IT STARTS: January 26, 2022 (for those who started new contracts on or after August 11, 2021

Note that if you opt for an Xtra plan from Vodafone, you won’t have to pay these charges.

A spokesman said: “Rather than have all of our customers affected by including the additional costs of roaming into all of our tariffs, customers will be able to choose a plan that comes with roaming included, or purchase an additional roaming pass.

“Our ambition is to ensure customers don’t ever experience ‘bill shock’ when roaming with Vodafone, because all of our plans and passes will have clear usage caps, and customers will also be able to set their own limits via Vodafone Spend Manager, which is free to set up via the My Vodafone App.

“Those who remain on their existing price plan will not be affected until they make changes.”


ROAMING CHARGE: £3.50 per gigabyte over your allowance

WHEN IT STARTS: From August 2, 2021

O2 was the first network to bring back charges, with a 25GB cap on European roaming allowances.

If your data allowance is above that, you’ll still be charged if you go over the 25GB limit while in the EU.

O2 says fewer than 1 per cent of its pay monthly customers come close to using 25GB of data when roaming anyway.

O2’s Europe Zone means Austria, Azores, 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, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City.

If you’re travelling outside the Europe Zone, O2 Travel can be used to stay connected when you’re on holiday. The O2 Travel Inclusive Zone Bolt On, included with selected O2 Refresh and sim-only tariffs, lets you roam in 75 destinations at no extra cost.

And you’ll get a daily allowance of 120 texts, 120 minutes calling and data roaming in 27 international O2 Travel destinations, including USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Find out more by visiting O2 here.


ROAMING CHARGE: £2 per day in Europe, £5 per day for rest of world

WHEN IT STARTS: From May 23, 2022 (for customers who started new contracts from October 1, 2021)

Three announced in September 2021 that it would be reintroducing roaming charges.

To unlock your UK allowance in Go Roam in Europe, there’s a £2 daily charge. When you Go Roam Around the World, it’s £5 a day. There’s a fair usage limit of 12GB before surcharges apply.

There are no fair use limits for calls made to standard landline or mobile numbers or texts sent within their Go Roam in Europe destinations, or back to the UK.

Go Roam Around the World does not include calls or texts to international numbers.

Destinations that come under Go Roam in Europe are: Aland Islands, Austria, Azores, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Réunion, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City.

The Go Roam Around The World destinations are Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Israel, Sri Lanka, United States, Brazil, El Salvador, Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Uruguay, Colombia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Australia and New Zealand.

If you want unlimited, unrestricted data (up to fair usage limits), Three also offers a separate Data Passport for £5 a day. You can use the Data Passport in the UK and 89 destinations worldwide.

Virgin Mobile

ROAMING CHARGE: no charge in EU subject to fair usage, but up to up to £12.50 per megabyte of data in countries outside the EU. Data spending capped at £52.05 per month unless you opt to remove the cap.

Virgin has introduced Roam Like Home so you can use your mobile wherever you go in the EU and pay no more for your texts, data and minutes than you would in the UK (subject to a fair usage policy ).

On top of this, you’ll pay nothing extra for calling and messaging other mobiles and landlines in the EU. And if you go over your allowances, or need a bit more data, you’ll still pay no more for extra minutes, texts and data than you would back home.

Roam Like Home destinations are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The Czech Republic, The Netherlands, The French Antilles, Vatican City (Italy).

If you exceed the fair usage limit, Virgin could charge you 3.3p per minute for calls, 1p per text message and £3.65 per GB of data.

If you’re travelling outside the EU, you won’t be able to use your UK allowances. If you use your mobile data outside the EU you will be charged up to £12.50 per megabyte, depending on the country you’re in.

BT Mobile

BT says all its phone and SIM plans include data roaming in 47 destinations worldwide.

It lets you use your normal allowance of minutes, texts and data without paying extra roaming charges.

Roaming Zone 1a is Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus*, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal (Incl. Azores & Madeira), Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Vatican City. When roaming in Northern Cyprus you may connect to a Turkish network. As Turkey is not in the EU and not a Roam Like Home country, any roaming usage may be charged at the rates detailed here

Roaming Zone 1B is Canary Islands, French Guiana, Gibraltar, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Iceland, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Martinique, Mayotte, Norway, Reunion, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Switzerland.

Going over your allowance means you’ll get charged for additional calls, texts and data – see all the charges here.

Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile say they have no plans to reintroduce extra data roaming charges.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “There are no Brexit changes to our Home From Home service.

“You can still use your data, minutes and texts in Europe as you would at home.

“We have no current plans to re-introduce roaming charges in European countries following the UK’s departure from the EU on 1 January 2021. If anything changes, we’ll contact all our customers to let them know.”

For pay as you go customers, using data abroad will come out of your credit. Find out the cost of using data abroad (per MB) on the Tesco website.

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