EU roaming charges are history... or are they?

Lady taking a selfie by the Eiffel tower
Selfies on holiday... c'est la vie
"There are still ways that you can get stung when using your mobile abroad though" Ben Wilson, GoCompare
  • | by Abbie Laughton-Coles

You've popped the champers, inflated your flamingo lilo and slapped on the Banana Boat oil in celebration - EU roaming charges have been abolished… but it's not that simple.

Yes indeed, as of 15 June, European Union (EU) mobile users now enjoy calls and texts wherever they are in its 28 countries.

About time, really.

"There's nothing worse than getting smacked with a massive bill as soon as you walk through your door from holiday," chirped Ben Wilson, GoCompare's mobile phone mogul.

"So getting rid of EU roaming charges is great news and a huge step in the right direction. There are still ways that you can get stung when using your mobile abroad though, so keep an eye out and if in doubt, speak to your network provider."

Can we really 'roam like at home', then? Let's investigate...

Fair play

There's a little something called 'fair usage' to watch out for. It basically means that there'll be a cap on your roaming data while using your mobile abroad.

Once you exceed this cap, you can be charged extra, so your phone bills may still raise an eyebrow. 

What's more, this data allowance may differ from the amount you have back home, so it's always worth checking before you decide to scroll aimlessly through Instagram during a lengthy coach trip or have an extensive phone call with the folks back home.

Contact your network provider and bone up on their fair usage policy to avoid paying more than you need to.

According to Ofcom, the extra amount you'll be required to pay if you go over is:

  • 0.032 euros per minute for calls
  • 0.01 euros per text
  • 7.70 euros per GB of data

It may not seem like a lot, but it all adds up.

Luckily, there's also a cap on the extra charges you can rack up above your fair usage allotment. This currently stands at 50 euros.

You'll also be notified if you're about to hit your data usage cap, so you can quickly run to the nearest wi-fi hotspot.

If need be, you'll be able to purchase more data from your network provider before you take off on your trip.

Don't mention the 'B' word

Whether you're a remainer or an avid Brexiteer, there's no escaping the fact that we're heading towards the exit door of the EU.

However, what will happen after the conscious uncoupling with our European pals is more than a little woolly.

No doubt, the government will want to keep roaming charges for Brits abroad low, but there's no guarantee that you'll enjoy the same rates as you do now while wandering around Europe.

Time is running out

Whether you're heading out on a lengthy trip, going interrailing for your gap yah, or enjoying that trip of a lifetime for your retirement, be aware that you may not be able to 'roam like at home' for your whole trip.

Your mobile provider could impose a time limit. So for instance, if you're globetrotting (or Euro-trotting to be more accurate) for longer than 30 days at a time, your tariff may lose its 'roam like at home' status.

Just keep an eye out for increases in your mobile phone bills if you're not sure.

You may want to consider getting a tariff specifically for travelling, your provider will be able to tell you your options.

Remember the union

This is where your GCSE geography skills come in handy.

Remember that the EU is made up of some 28 countries, but the physical continent of Europe is made up of many more.

So it's best not to just assume that you can use your mobile like you would at home if you're heading to say, Macedonia, Albania or Serbia. You won't be immune to data roaming charges.

However, some mobile providers are extending their offering to outside the EU to tempt customers, so it's worth checking what the situation is.

People all over the world, join hands

The good news is that the 50 euro limit for data usage charges extends across the whole globe, not just in Europe.

So if you do get a little mobile-happy, at least you know that you won't have a bill of hundreds of pounds waiting for you chez toi.

We'll drink to that!

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