Roaming charges: What are they and how can you avoid a large data roaming bill

Published: 24 June, 2022

Holiday season is well upon us, with many looking forward to jetting off on holiday for the first time since pandemic restrictions were lifted. Along with packing your sun cream, local travel guides and passport – it’s also important that you understand mobile roaming.

What is mobile roaming?

The term mobile roaming describes the use of your phone and data abroad.

Understanding mobile roaming is important and using your phone and data overseas to make calls, browse the internet or update your social media could lead to some unexpected phone charges.

How much is mobile roaming?

The cost of mobile roaming can vary significantly depending on your country of origin, and destination. In some cases, mobile roaming incurs no additional charge between countries – like within the EU for example.

Have there been any changes to mobile roaming?

If you are a UK citizen, then some significant changes have occurred to mobile roaming that you need to be aware of.

As a result of Brexit, as of 1 January 2021, UK mobile phone users no longer automatically receive free roaming in the EU by law. Since that date, most major networks have either reintroduced roaming costs, announced a date when roaming costs will return, or pledged to keep roaming free for their customers.

  • Advice for UK customers: Check your roaming allocations with your network provider before going on holiday.

How can you avoid roaming charges overseas?

The most simple way to avoid roaming charges is to simply not use your phone – but that’s not realistic. Here are some more practical solutions so you can avoid a costly data bill when you arrive back home:

Check if your network offers a roaming add-on: If your network doesn’t give you free roaming, most do allow you to purchase bolt-on packages to use abroad

Consider buying a local SIM: To keep the cost of calls and texts messages down, it’s a good idea to buy a local SIM card and top up with pay-as-you-go credit. Alternatively,

check if your phone has an eSIM. eSIMS are a virtual SIM card that let you change providers virtually – making it even easier to avoid roaming charges.

Check whether your destination is bound by EU regulations: It might surprise you which countries aren’t bound to abide by EU usage caps. Turkey, Northern Cyprus and Egypt are all popular destinations that are outside the EU. Charges in Switzerland also vary on a network to network basis.

Consider Swytch: Swytch is an internet phone service that lets you rent a secondary UK number for your phone for a small fee. This means that when you’re overseas you can receive calls and texts sent to this number on your smartphone and you won’t pay for incoming calls.

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