EU roaming charges: what do they mean for your mobile phone bill?

Three is the latest mobile provider to announce that it’s reintroducing EU roaming charges. Kate Anderson takes a look at what the news means for your bill.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

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Three is the latest mobile provider to announce that it is reintroducing roaming charges for its customers. Three joins the likes of EE and Vodafone who confirmed the end of free roaming in the EU earlier in the year.

So what will this actually mean for your mobile phone bill? Let’s take a look.

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EU roaming charges are back on the agenda

Brexit and rising wholesale costs have pushed mobile operators into changing their stances on EU roaming charges.

EE was the first to break ranks. It announced earlier in the year that new customers joining or upgrading from 7 July 2021 would be charged £2 a day to use their allowances in 47 destinations from January 2022.

Vodafone soon followed suit, saying it would bring in a £2 per day fee for roaming from next January.

And now Three has announced that from 23 May 2022, customers who take out a new or upgraded contract after 1 October will have to pay £2 a day to use their monthly allowance of minutes, texts and data in the EU.

Increased costs

The days of free roaming are numbered. With three big mobile phone providers reintroducing roaming charges, customers are going to need to think about their mobile phone contracts.

If you are a customer with EE, Vodafone or Three, then you can expect to pay a little extra when you go abroad.

Charges seem pretty consistent, with each provider opting for a £2 per day charge. So, if you go on a week-long holiday, you will need to budget for an additional £14 on your bill if you want to use your phone every day.

Three has also scrapped its free ‘Go Roam’ service outside Europe. Previously, customers could call, text and use their data allowance at no extra charge in 71 destinations. Now, users will be charged £5 per day for roaming when outside the EU.

Obviously, this makes roaming in more far-flung places more than twice as expensive as in Europe. You would need to budget for up to £35 extra on your bill for a week-long getaway.


How to keep your bill down

If you are worried about roaming charges pushing your mobile phone bill too high, then you have the following options:

  • Switch providers – O2 has said it currently has no plans to change its roaming charges. And Sky Mobile has confirmed that customers will continue to be able use their data, call and text allowances for free when travelling in the EU. So, if you are nearing the end of your current contract, it could be worth taking a look at switching.
  • Compare mobile phone plans – It is a good idea to compare mobile phone plans, just as you would compare car insurance quotes. But comparing is even more important with roaming charges making a comeback. You may find there are additional benefits you can include to make it cheaper for yourself. For example, EE has a Smart Benefit you can add to your plan that gives you free roaming abroad for £10 a month.
  • Haggle – This option isn’t a dead certainty, but you may find that if you are an existing customer, you could negotiate a better deal when it’s time to renew. Make sure you do your research beforehand though, so you come armed with the right information.

The good news is that the EU roaming charges are for new customers joining or upgrading at the specified date each provider has given. So if you are mid-contract, you can just wait it out and make a switch when you are ready.

It is also worth noting that the change will only have a real impact on your mobile phone bill if you plan to use your phone abroad. So if you have no plans to head overseas, then you don’t need to worry just yet.

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