New rules mean it's cheaper to phone home
New rules came into force yesterday (1 July) to cut the cost of using your smartphone while you are on holiday.
There's been a cap placed on roaming charges for data in the European Union so people using their phones to access emails and online data won't be faced with a 'bill shock' after a trip abroad.
The EU has predicted these changes will save families an average of €200 (£160) per trip as companies will only be allowed to charge 70 cents (56p) per megabyte of data, plus VAT. This is six times lower than in 2009 and the price is expected to fall further, hitting 20 cents (12p) by 2014.
For those travelling outside the EU, providers are required to send a warning text message or email when you are nearing your pre-agreed limit. Customers must then confirm they are happy to go over this level before they can continue.
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How to avoid roaming charges altogether
If you want to avoid these costs completely, make sure you turn off your data roaming capability on your handset before you set off so you don’t get caught out by any extra charges.
To reduce your costs further, take advantage of free wi-fi hotspots if you need to get online and avoid downloading any attachments on your mobile.
Alternatively, most providers offer bundle deals for using your phone overseas, which can be bought as a one-off or as an ongoing service, and although you need to pay for these if you plan to use your smartphone a lot, they will cut your overall costs.
Call your provider before you set off to ask about these and remember to cancel them after your trip.
Invented by a Frenchman in 1954 and ironically introduced in the UK on 1 April 1973, VAT is an indirect tax levied on the value added in the production of goods and services, from primary production to final consumption and is paid by the buyer. Its levying is complex, with a number of exemptions and exclusions. For example, in the UK, VAT is payable on chocolate-covered biscuits, but not on chocolate-covered cakes and the non-VAT status of McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes was challenged in a UK court case to determine whether Jaffa Cake was a cake or a biscuit. The judge ruled that the Jaffa Cake is a cake, McVitie’s won the case and VAT is not paid on Jaffa Cakes in the UK.