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Phone providers reintroducing roaming fees for UK travellers

Byte-size Bulletin by Rachael Brown in News on Jan 14, 2022


Three, EE and Vodafone are reintroducing roaming fees for their customers travelling to the EU. Meaning business travellers and holiday makers alike, need to be conscious of not racking up a big phone bill while abroad. 

Between 2017 to the end of 2020, UK consumers were able to use the minutes, texts, and data included in their mobile phone plans while travelling within the EU, subject to certain restrictions. 

Because the UK has left the EU, and our subsequent Brexit trade deal didn't rule out roaming charges, UK carriers have been permitted to impose them since January 2021.

This does not include the whole of the home nations though. In the Republic of Ireland, none of the networks listed will charge for roaming.

EE is charging its UK  customers £2 a day for roaming charges when in Europe. When in non-EU Countries, including those that previously permitted free-roaming, EE is imposing a  £5 per day charge.

Customers who signed up for EE or upgraded their contracts after July 7 last year, are being charged this month, in January 2022. 

For those travelling for longer periods, EE is offering 30-day packages with their own specific costs. 

Meanwhile, Vodafone, who we warned earlier last year is bringing back charges,  is offering three distinct tariffs.

Firstly, it's cheapest sim-only plans don't allow customers any usage outside of the UK and Ireland aside for emergency calls. Vodafone is offering roaming included in its more expensive Xtra plans. 

The rest of its pricing includes £2 per day roaming.  For £1 each day, you can get an eight-day or a fifteen-day pass.

O2 customers are limited to 25GB of data per month and will be charged £3.50 for each additional GB. Vodafone has a 25GB cap as well, with a £3.13 per GB price beyond that.

Whether or not your operator charges extra, users are subject to "fair usage limits" on the length of time they can use their phones abroad. For example, customers in the UK who are defined as spending more than half of their time abroad, will be charged more by operators. 

While Brits are losing out on free roaming, the anticipated £2-per-day rates are a massive bargain compared to past charges. Where UK citizens have  previously returned from European holidays to find themselves in hundreds and thousands of pounds of debt, due to roaming charges. 

In addition, the UK government has legislated important consumer protections surrounding roaming. 

These include a £45 monthly cap on the amount people can be charged for using mobile data outside of the UK before they will need to opt-in to continue using it.

And the requirement that customers be notified of when they have used up 80% and 100% of their data allocation.

Operators must also take "reasonable precautions" to prevent users from being charged for unintentional roaming in Northern Ireland, which could occur if a phone there locked on to a signal from another country.

Photo by Talal Ahmad on Unsplash

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