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5 best mobile networks for roaming in April 2017

Friday, April 7th 2017

If you’re heading off on holiday or a business trip soon, you may be wondering how to keep in touch without racking up a massive phone bill. EU roaming caps certainly help, but what if you’re travelling outside the European Union?

Here are the mobile networks that offer the cheapest data roaming, plus the add-ons available to help you save money whether your destination is within the EU or elsewhere in the world.

1
3

Three

All pay monthly, SIM-only and pay-as-you-go plans

  • Non-EU calls
    From free
  • Non-EU texts
    From free
  • Non-EU data
    From free

When it comes to international roaming, Three offers a feature called Feel At Home that lets you use your UK plan's allowance (or add-on if you’re a pay-as-you-go customer) within select countries, meaning you can call or text the UK and get online as you would at home, at no extra cost.

If you’re travelling elsewhere, you’ll be charged for each call, text or megabyte of data, or you can take the Euro Internet Pass for unlimited internet access for £5 per day. It’s designed for just browsing, so streaming and other activities may be slow.

Visit Three

2
O2

O2

Pay monthly, Pay-as-you-go

  • Non-EU calls
    £4.99 per day
  • Non-EU texts
    £4.99 per day
  • Non-EU data
    £4.99 per day

O2 offers O2 Travel for all its Pay Monthly customers. For calls and data within Europe, you will be charged £1.99 per day for unlimited data and 120 minutes. In selected destinations outside Europe, you will be charged £4.99 per day, and in Turkey £3.99 per day. For the full list of countries covered, visit O2's website.

Pay-As-You-Go customers get 100MB of data in Europe only for £1.99 per day. All calls cost 4p per minute, and it costs 1p per text message. Calls and texts received are free. Media messages cost the same as in the UK.

To get started you just need to text O2TRAVEL to 23336. You will only be charged on the days you use your phone abroad.

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3
iD mobile

iD mobile

Pay monthly

  • Non-EU calls
    From free
  • Non-EU texts
    From free
  • Non-EU data
    From free

iD offers some affordable options with its TakeAway plans for getting online within the European Union and some countries beyond – including Sweden, Australia and the USA . The mobile provider lets you roam in 29 countries and keep in touch with your family and friends at no extra cost.

TakeAway plans are only available on a SIM-only plan and lasts for 12 months. If you travel in the EU on a regular basis this could be the ideal plan for you. You can get up to 2000 minutes, 5000 texts and 10GB of data to use in the UK and abroad.

There are no add-ons for elsewhere in the world unfortunately, but standard rates are pretty competitive for calls and texts and you can check out the full list online.

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4
EE

EE

EE Extra pay monthly plans with roaming

  • Non-EU calls
    From free
  • Non-EU texts
    From free
  • Non-EU data
    Data add-on required

EE data roaming is prevented unless you’ve purchased a data add-on first, which means you can’t accidentally run up lots of charges. You’ll be presented with a list of options when opening the browser on your mobile at your destination, and the add-on prices vary depending on where you are.

When it comes to calls and texts, EE Extra plans include unlimited roaming within select European countries as part of your deal. This includes calls and texts to the UK, plus within and between eligible countries – but not from the UK. Outside of these countries or on a standard EE plan, you’ll be charged EE’s standard international roaming charges.

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5
Vodafone

Vodafone

Pay monthly plans

  • Non-EU calls
    From 18.7p
  • Non-EU texts
    5.8p per text + the cost of a domestic text (14p)
  • Non-EU data
    19.8p per MB for up to 5MB; £15 per 5MB thereafter

Vodafone’s Euro Traveller feature allows pay monthly customers to use their allowance in Europe for an extra £3 per day. Be aware that by opting into EuroTraveller (by texting ADD to 40506), you automatically opt out of the monthly data roaming spend limit because you’re using your existing allowance.

If you plan to get online elsewhere in the world, you can use your UK minutes, texts and data for £5 extra a day with Vodafone's World Traveller plan. World Traveller is available to pay monthly customers and those on certain business plans. To opt in, text ADD to 40508 or call 5555 free from your Vodafone mobile.

Another option is Vodafone's Data Traveller. Each day you go online, you’ll pay £5 for 25MB and if you exceed this, you’ll pay the standard outlined in the table above, up to the monthly spending limit of £41.29. Costs are different if you’re on pay-as-you-go. For a full list of rates, check the Vodafone website.

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EU roaming rules

All networks are bound by European Parliament caps on cost of mobile use

It's important to be aware of the EU’s rules on roaming charges. The cost of using mobile phones abroad has come under scrutiny from the European Parliament in recent years. Caps have been introduced to control how much mobile phone operators can charge users for roaming onto local networks to call, text or use the internet while overseas.

Charges are capped but will be reviewed in 2018

The table below outlines the current European roaming caps. These caps willbe in place until 15t June 2017 at which point all providers will be required to allow users to "roam like at home" – in other words, there will be no extra fee and prices will be the same as when using your phone in the UK.

In addition to maximum rates, EU law currently requires providers to limit data usage to a value of €50 per month and not allow users to transmit or receive more data unless you actively elect to do so.

1 July 2014
Making a call (per minute): €0.19 (15p)
Receiving a call (per minute): €0.05 (4p)
Sending a text (per SMS): €0.06 (5p)
Internet data (per MB) €0.20 (16p)
1 July 2014
Making a call (per minute):
€0.19 (15p)
Receiving a call (per minute):
€0.05 (4p)
Sending a text (per SMS):
€0.06 (5p)
Internet data (per MB)
€0.20 (16p)

*Prices are set in Euros, but cost in British Pound Sterling varies with exchange rates.

If your European politics is a little rusty, the EU member states are:
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Rep.
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK
If your European politics is a little rusty, the EU member states are:
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

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