Save money on data roaming and calls when travelling

Know your options when it comes to using your phone abroad, so you don’t spend more than you have to.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 30 August 2022  | 4 min read

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The cost of being connected

Using your mobile phone abroad used to be very costly and an overpriced data roaming bill isn’t something your travel insurance will cover.

Luckily, the rules around data roaming are changing, with data caps and like-for-like data charges helping to control your costs when you're overseas.

Key points

  • Britain is no longer part of the EU so you could potentially end up paying roaming charges whether you're travelling in the EU or beyond
  • In January 2021, major UK mobile companies decided not to apply extra charges within the EU - that could change any time
  • There will still be a cap of £45 a month on data roaming charges abroad and text alerts that tell you when you’re close to your data allowance

European roaming charges by network

All prices as at 14th June 2022

Network Customers this applies to Roaming charges in Europe
Asda All bundle customers All bundle customers have a 25GB data roaming limit regardless of the amount of data included in your bundle. Once you have 25GB of data you will be charged 4p per MB, the same as you would pay for data in the UK.
BT Roam Like Home lets you use your UK calls, texts and data abroad in 47 destinations without paying extra roaming charges. None with Roam like Home.
EE If your current plan started before the 7th July 2021, you can use your included minutes texts and data abroad at no extra cost. A daily fee of £2 to use your minutes, texts or data. You can purchase a Roaming Pass directly from EE for £10 which could save you some money.
Giffgaff All Giffgaff plans can be used in Europe as you would in the UK at no extra cost.
O2 O2 doesn’t charge anything extra for using your included minutes, texts or data within their Europe Zone but if you wish to visit a country outside Europe, you may want to consider purchasing a bolt on. None
Sky All £2 a day with Sky’s Roaming Passport Plus pass
Tesco All No extra charges in Europe as part of its “Home from Home” scheme.
Three You can use your tariff allowance in 71 destinations if you have a Three Advanced Plan. For Pay Monthly customers who joined or upgraded on or after 1 October 2021, there’s a daily charge of £2 to do this in Europe.
Virgin All Within the EU, you can use your UK allowance with Roam Like Home.
Vodafone If your current plan started before the 11th August 2021, you can use your included minutes texts and data at no extra cost. But if your plan started after 11th August 2021 (or after 29 September 2021 if you took out your plan through an indirect partner), daily charges will apply. A daily fee of £2 to use your minutes, texts or data.
Voxi All £2/day (or £1/day if you buy an 8 or 15-day bundle) from 1 June 2022 but you must buy a roaming pass with this network.

The end of ‘roam like at home’?

Since 2017, calls, texts and data usage in the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have cost the same as in the UK – that could change at any time now that the UK's left the European Union.

Major phone operators didn't immediately apply roaming charges after the Brexit transition ended on 31 December 2020. But there's no longer any legal right to ‘roam like at home’.

If you’re going on holiday outside the EU, roaming charges are usually very high.

Roaming after Brexit

Since January 2021, it's been up to the network provider to decide how much they charge.

Each provider could decide to reintroduce roaming charges at any time, so make sure you check what yours charges before you go away.

Data roaming cap

Wherever you travel, there will still be a mobile roaming data use limit of £45 per month.

This means you’ll receive alerts when you’ve used 80% and then again at 100% of your data allowance, so you don’t accidentally overspend.

You can find out more about the rules on data roaming abroad on the government’s website.

Do I need a roaming add-on?

If you’re using data anywhere that your provider charges for roaming, you’ll need a data roaming add-on to avoid potentially high data charges.

You can buy a roaming add-on before you travel so you know exactly what you’re getting, or when you get to your destination.

Buying a data roaming add-on abroad means the price will vary, depending on which country you’re in.

 

How to save money on roaming

Calls, texts and data use in countries where your provider doesn't include free roaming will not be charged as the same as in UK.

Here’s a few ways to save money while using your phone abroad:

  • Use hotel wi-fi and Facetime/WhatsApp for internet calls and messages, instead of spending money on texts and voice calls.
  • Buy an international SIM card, or a local SIM card from the place you’re travelling to, so you can be put on a deal specific to the region you’re visiting.
  • Download any apps you need before you set off on your trip, to avoid unnecessarily wasting data when abroad
  • Make sure you have a cap on your data, so you will never spend more than the set limit
  • Turning off notifications, closing background apps and disabling data-hungry apps can all help to limit your data usage

Your phone will need to be ‘unlocked’ for you to use a different SIM card and you’ll usually have to have ID to buy one.