Mobile roaming charges – Avoiding the Roaming Rip-Off

Despite new roaming offerings from national networks thousands of Brits are leaving themselves exposed to expensive international roaming charges. Here’s how to avoid the roaming rip-off.

How to avoid data roaming charges

In 2017, roaming charges in Europe are set to be scrapped, in a move that will be good news for frequent travellers or anyone who doesn’t take a vacation from their tech’ even when they’re on holiday. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be entirely safe. After all, roaming charges will still apply outside Europe after this point and may cost up to £1.20p/min to make or receive a call as well as £7.00pMB for data.

And until the EU-wide ban is implemented, millions of Britons are still at risk of being hit by hugely expensive international roaming charges when travelling in Europe simply by switching on mobile phones. Unfortunately, as it stands the minute your phone has been detected on an overseas network, expensive roaming rates will start kicking in.

Even if you’re careful with your mobile phone abroad and avoid making unnecessary calls, you can still be charged simply to receive a call or pick up a voicemail message. If you pick up voicemail while your phone is registered overseas, not only are you charged an overseas rate for the message being left, but you will be charged again to pick the message up.

But the really expensive charges apply with data, so it’s especially important that you’re careful with your mobile internet use and keep streaming and downloads to reasonable levels, or use wifi.

What can you be charged for?

A recent price comparison site study found that out of 91% of people who take their mobile phones on holiday, 85% aren’t sure of what they are being charged to use it. Over 4 in 10 people have been shocked by expensive post-holiday phone bills.

EU guidelines have however progressively capped the maximum amount a mobile phone provider can charge for services in Europe, with the result that they’re rapidly coming down and, as mentioned above, will disappear completely in 2017.

Below are the current caps in place across the EU (all charges exclude VAT).
Outgoing calls: In July 2014, the cost of outgoing calls was capped at €0.19.
Incoming calls: The cost of taking a call in the EU is currently capped at €0.05 per minute.
Texts: Texts are capped at €0.06.
Data: A megabyte of data is currently capped at €0.20.

In the survey, only 15% of people could correctly identify these maximum charges.
61% of you believe that receiving a text message while abroad costs you money, when, in fact, this service is free.

How can you avoid international mobile roaming charges?

  • ‘Know before you go’ – beware of the charges you could be liable for
  • Switch your phone off in the UK and leave it off until you need it
  • Tell family and friends to only send you texts
  • Ask your mobile phone company to switch off your voicemail service while you’re away
  • Ask your provider about a separate roaming package before you travel
  • Unlock your device and buy an international SIM card or foreign SIM before you go

Voice and data Sims are available through

Although it’s good news within the EU remember, that outside the EU the gloves are still off and expensive roaming rates still apply.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll make sure that your phone bill isn’t more than the cost of your flights!