From June 15th it will cost the same to use your phone in the EU as it does in the UK. What will you pay until then?
Using your phone in the EU
If you’re travelling or holidaying in any of the EU countries you will be likely to pay far less than if you travel elsewhere. There’s a list of EU countries on the EU Commission website.
This is what you’ll currently pay (until June 15th) All the costs quoted below exclude VAT.
- If you make a call within the EU, you’ll be charged the price of a domestic call plus a maximum of €0.05 a minute. That’s down from €0.19 Euro cents before the change (approx 16.5p).
- If you receive a call within the EU, you’ll be charged the price of a domestic call and a maximum of up to €0.01 a minute. That’s down from a maximum of €0.05 a minute (currently around 4.5p).
- If you send a text within the EU, you’ll be charged the price of texting someone in the UK plus a maximum of €0.02 per text. That’s down from €0.06 (currently around 5p). It’s free to receive a text within the EU
SAVVY TIP: Be aware that this price rate doesn’t apply to photo messaging. It only applies to SMS (text only) messages.
- If you browse the web or send and receive emails you’ll be charged the price of downloading data in the UK plus a maximum of €0.05 per MB, compared to the previous cost of €0.20 per MB (currently around 17.5p).
SAVVY TIP: 1MB of data is enough to visit a website (you could look at several pages), update your Facebook page or download ten emails with simple attachments. But downloading a song would use about 6MB of data, and watching a five minute video on Youtube (whether of kittens or something else!), would use around 15MB of data, according to the mobile phone provider Three.
- There is an overall spending cap that operates within the EU of €50 a month (currently around £43). If you go over this limit without telling your mobile provider you want to buy more data use, your data roaming facility will be cut off. It’s a useful limit to know about.
SAVVY TIP: You will receive a warning text message when you’ve reached 80% of your limit and you can set a higher limit if you want to. Some mobile phone providers apply this cap outside the EU, but not all do. Contact your mobile phone provider before you leave.
Getting a great deal before you travel
If you know you’re going to be using the internet a lot while you’re away, you can buy packages that offer you more data usage. These can be good value but you must keep an eye on your data usage as you may not receive any warning that your bill could be high.
SAVVY TIP: Some friends of mine bought a ‘large use’ data bundle when they went to the United States and weren’t told that next time they travelled they would be paying a different rate. The – uncapped – bill ran to several hundred pounds. Ask your provider how you can limit your bill.
Comparing charges in the EU
If you want to compare the cost of using your phone within the EU, there’s an EU website that lets you Compare roaming tariffs of different mobile providers. It’s a bit fiddly to use as you have to select your home country, then whether you want to get costs of SMS messages or voice calls (you do this by selecting the answer in a box on the top right hand corner of the screen). However, it shows you whether certain mobile providers in the UK or the country you’re travelling to are cheaper than others.
Using your phone outside the EU
Outside the EU, there aren’t the same upper limits on how much you could pay and price comparison site USwitch has found that many people are confused about which countries are in the EU and which are not.
Make sure you’re not using up data you’re not aware of
If you have a smartphone, unless you actively turn off the facility to roam the web, your mobile will constantly have access to the internet while you’re abroad. And that could mean a hefty phone bill when you return. To turn off data roaming if you have an iPhone, go to ‘settings’, click on ‘network’ and you’ll see ‘data roaming’. Switch it off. If you have a Blackberry, go to ‘applications’, then select ‘options’ , ‘mobile network’ and ‘data services’. You can then select ‘off when roaming’.
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