EU bans mobile phone roaming charges: what does it mean for you?

Woman on phone

You can read our roundup here of the best ways to cut your phone costs while travelling, but here’s a quick Q&A on the ban on fees that has just been announced and what it means for you.

So I won’t be charged to use my phone abroad?
You will still pay to use your phone, but it won’t cost you any more than it does in the UK.

When do the changes take place?
The full ban on roaming charges takes place on 15 June 2017. But the changes are being phased in, so from 30 April 2016 mobile phone companies can only charge up to 3.5p a minute extra for calls, €0.02 extra for a text, and €0.05 extra for a megabyte of data.

How much do providers charge at the moment?
Thanks to EU legislation, there are already limits to what you can be charged to use your phone in Europe. However, they remain quite expensive. Your phone company can charge you up to 16.5p a minute to receive calls, 4.3p a minute to make calls, 5.1p for a text, and 17p per megabyte of data.

How about the rest of the world?
If you’re travelling outside Europe there are no limits on the rates you can be charged to use your phone, but your provider is obliged to cap your data charges to £42. However, if you reach this limit, you’re free to opt out.

How can I avoid these charges?
The easiest way to avoid a huge bill is to turn off data usage when you’re abroad, and use wifi whenever you can. However, Three customers can roam at no extra charge through its ‘Feel at Home’ scheme. It’s not available for all destinations, but it includes Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and the US.