While changes to EU roaming charges may help holidaymakers to avoid sky-high bills, Which? reveals that differences between what mobile providers offer could result in unexpected charges.
From this week (Thursday, 15 June), new EU regulations mean anyone travelling to an EU member country will be able to use their mobile phone minutes, texts and data as if they were still in the UK – paying the same price to ‘roam like home’.
However, Which? research found that holiday makers could still be hit with unexpected charges. And while mobile providers have informed customers about the new rules, consumers should be aware that:
- Calls and texts sent from UK mobiles to the EU will still incur charges – for example, Which? found that calling Spain from the UK can cost between 9p (Giffgaff) to £1.50 (O2) per minute
- Exceeding agreed minutes, texts and data will still be charged in the EU as it would in the UK – and all mobile providers charge different rates
- Mobile providers include different countries in their roaming territories and this can vary depending on whether consumers are a pay as you go or pay monthly customer – for example, O2 pay as you go customers will continue to be hit with roaming charges in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Monaco and Switzerland whereas O2 pay monthly customers won’t.
Even though the UK is still part of the EU, consumers should remember that these regulations only apply to roaming – not to calling EU countries from the UK and prices vary significantly.
All mobile providers charge different rates when customers exceed their agreed usage. Although customers are notified when this happens, those who do this while in the EU could face charges ranging from 3p (Three) to 55p (Vodafone) per minute when calling a UK mobile phone. Text and data charges also vary between providers.
Vodafone is the only mobile provider that includes popular tourist destination Turkey in their roaming bundle. A phone call from Turkey to the UK on other mobile networks can cost between 69p per minute (Tesco mobile) to £1.65 (TalkTalk).
Which? is advising customers to check their tariffs with their provider and shop around for the best deal at the end of their contract.
Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said:
“Many will reap the benefits of these changes and will no longer be put off from making calls abroad. However, it is important that you take a close look at what is or isn’t included in your current mobile deal. Not knowing what’s included could lead to some surprising charges on your next bill.”
Notes to eds
Which?’s advice for consumers to avoid any additional fees:
- Check your contract: most providers have informed their customers about the new rules and which countries are included in their roaming bundle but its best to check before travelling to ensure you fully understand what your package allows you to do
- Use wi-fi: connect to free apps like WhatsApp, Viber and Skype to send messages and make calls
- Switch mobile provider: if you aren’t satisfied with the price and bundle your provider is offering you, and there are cheaper and better alternatives out there, look to switch
For more information on what the end of EU roaming charges really means for consumers, and what packages mobile providers have available, visit www.which.co.uk/international-calls
- Which? has compiled an online advice guide on what the end of EU roaming charges really means for consumers, visit > www.which.co.uk/international-calls
- Which? research consisted of contacting and looking at the current pricing and roaming territories of the UK’s leading mobile providers. Accurate as of June 12 2017.
- All consumers, new and existing, of all mobile providers who offer roaming services, have to be put by default on a tariff with ‘Roam like at home’ (RLAH). Mobile providers can still offer consumers alternative roaming tariffs and consumers can accept them if they so wish. For consumers who are already on alternative tariffs, their mobile providers can ask them if they wish to stay on such alternative tariffs before the 15th of June. For more information visit the BEREC guidelines – paragraphs 94-97
- Out of bundle charges per provider and Charges for using your phone in Turkey:
Vodafone is the only mobile provider that includes popular tourist destination Turkey in their roaming territories. A phone call from Turkey to the UK can cost between 69p per minute (Tesco mobile) to £1.65 (TalkTalk).
- Cost per minute to call a Spanish mobile from a UK monthly contract phone. Link to graphic
- To find out the best and worst mobile providers for coverage and speed in your area, click HERE
- Visit Which?’s consumer rights page to find out how to challenge an excessive bill after using your phone abroad > http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/can-i-challenge-an-excessive-bill-after-using-my-mobile-abroad
- To view the best and worst mobile providers in Which?’s annual survey, click HERE