Exciting news for travellers taking off to the Continent this summer or even sooner: roaming charges are capped as of last weekend and will be totally banned by June 2017.
Negotiations have been going on for years (literally) between the European Commission (the EC) and telecom operators in an effort to drop additional roaming charges for travellers in Europe. The move to scrap them altogether could save some British travellers dozens of pounds while abroad.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of Brits returning home after holidays, only to be met with a massive phone bill for calls home and data usage after streaming music, downloading films and uploading photos. It’s all too easy; who wouldn’t want to jam to Spotify by the pool, catch a quick flick on Netflix in the evening or keep followers hungry with new pics posted on Instagram several times a day?
New EU roaming charges explained
Starting from Saturday, you will now be charged:
- Outgoing voice calls now cost the domestic price, plus €0.05 (down from €0.19)
- Incoming voice calls now cost the domestic price, plus €0.01 (down from €0.05)
- Outgoing texts now cost the domestic price, plus €0.02 (down from €0.06)
- Data per megabyte now costs the domestic price, plus €0.05 (down from €0.20)
Don’t worry, you won’t have to keep track of how much it’s going to cost you to call home to gran while you’re on holiday for much longer. From June 15th, 2017, roaming fees will be abolished altogether in the EU!
Travelling outside the EU?
Unfortunately the new caps on roaming charges only apply to countries within the European Union, in addition to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. They don’t apply to Switzerland. If you’re travelling outside the EU, you’ll need to keep an eye on your phone and data usage if you don’t want any surprised when your phone bill arrives once you get back.
Our top tips?
- Turn off data roaming as soon as you board your plane to take off. Whether you’re catching a flight to New York or Bangkok, it’s a good idea to turn it off at the same time as switching your phone to flight mode so you don’t forget upon arrival.
- Stick to Wi-Fi only. You can do all the things you normally do on your phone (post a photo on Facebook, WhatsApp with your mates, download the newest Beyonce album, etc.) when connected to Wi-Fi so grab lunch at a hotspot. Many hotels now offer guests complimentary Wi-Fi.
- Use apps that don’t require data. Download some apps before you go to help you get around without needing data. Google Maps for example can be saved as offline versions or XE.com for converting foreign currency. CityMaps2Go is also good for offline street maps of popular cities like New York and Paris.
- Buy a local SIM card when you arrive; it’ll give you better rates for calling home, texting and data rates. You’ll be charged the local rate rather than the domestic rate plus the addition fee outlined above.
Looks like you don’t have to ‘unplug’ while on holiday if you don’t want to! Happy surfing (the web, that is!).