A ban on mobile roaming charges in the EU comes into force on 15 June. The new ‘Roam at Home’ rules should bring savings for consumers and businesses alike. But it’s not quite a blanket ban. So will you benefit from the new rules?
Some of us use our holidays as an opportunity for a digital detox when phones will remain switched off.Others find themselves a comfy spot in the hotel lobby to log-in to the free wi-fi and plot out the next day of activities.
Whatever your preference, it’s certainly welcome news that from Thursday you’ll be able to make calls, texts and get online on your mobile phone while in the EU and will be charged exactly the same price as when you’re at home.
But, before you celebrate the end of holiday bill shock, there are exceptions to the rules that are worth knowing about.
*Warning* the ban on roaming charges in the EU doesn’t mean completely free roaming.
While this EU regulation says that you can’t be charged more for using data, minutes and texts, if you go over your usual monthly phone bundle, for any of these items, you’ll be hit with the same charges as you would be at home.
And the chances are that when you’re travelling around on your holidays – whether that’s scoping out restaurants, mapping routes or calling hotels and car hire firms – you’re more likely to reach or exceed those limits. Those out-of-bundle charges can come with a bit of a bite too and vary across mobile phone providers.
Interestingly, despite being in the EU while in the UK you’re not technically roaming… so for those of you who might have friends and family living elsewhere in the EU, it’s worth knowing that calls and texts sent from the UK to EU mobiles will incur additional charges. Calling Spain from the UK, for example, can cost 9p with Giffgaff, but £1.50 per minute with O2.
We also found that mobile providers include different countries in their roaming territories and this can vary depending on whether you’re pay-as-you-go or pay monthly.
For example, Vodafone includes Turkey as a roaming territory, but Turkey isn’t in the EU. Also, if you’re an O2 pay as you go customer you’ll continue to be charged in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Monaco and Switzerland whereas O2 pay monthly customers won’t.
So, if you plan to use your mobile phone while on holiday this year it’s important to check your tariff with your provider before you go to avoid unexpected charges.
These new roaming rules will apply to the UK for the duration of our EU membership. But, nobody wants to be in the situation where for next couple of years we can roam with our mobiles, posting pictures on Instagram or Facebook and texting our friends while on holiday, and then find that we go back to a scenario where we’re back to having bigger phone bills. That’s why we want the government to fight for this in Brexit negotiations.
Should a ban on EU mobile roaming charges be maintained as part of the government's Brexit negotiations?
Yes (92%, 1,395 Votes)
Not sure (4%, 65 Votes)
No (4%, 63 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,523
In the meantime, I still plan to use my holidays as an excuse for a digital detox (sorry Which? Convo community). However, these changes will certainly be helpful next time I’m away – whether that’s to call the hotel, send a photo to friends and family or simply to check in on the weather 🙂
Have you experienced bill shock after returning from a holiday? Do you think you’ll benefit from free EU mobile roaming? Or do you think you’ll be sticking to the free hotel wi-fi?