New rules mean it's cheaper to phone home

6 July 2012

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.

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