Best roaming plans: Which is the cheapest network for EU and abroad?
Roaming data charges have been scrapped by the European Commission in its 28 member countries entirely from 15 June 2017.
You will now be able to use your bundled texts, minutes and mobile data anywhere in the European Union without it costing you any extra. That means uploading your holiday snaps to Facebook or Instagram as you go is much more justifiable than it has ever been in the past.
Unfortunately, there are no caps on roaming fees outside of Europe, or the countries not included in the EU, so if you are lucky enough to travel a lot, here is a round up of what the different networks offer in terms of roaming and which give jetsetters the best deals.
Vodafone offers Vodafone Global Roaming as standard for Pay Monthly plans, as well as SIM-only plans that started on or after 12 April 2017. This incentive includes 50 “Roam-free” destinations, some of which extend further than just those covered by the EU roaming regulations.
Users visiting any of the Roam-free destinations will be able to use their allowance as they would in the UK without spending any extra. Charges will apply if you go out of your bundle but the regulations state that they cannot be more than they would be in the UK.
The Roam-free destinations are: Albania, Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (inc Corsica), French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Madeira, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (inc Balearic Islands), Sweden, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man, San Marino, Saint Martin, Switzerland, Turkey, Vatican City.
For those travelling further than the 50 countries on the Roam-free list, there are 60 “Roam-further” destinations available under the Vodafone Global Roaming incentive for Pay Monthly customers and SIM-only customers.
A daily flat rate of £5 allows you to use your phone in any of the participating Roam-further countries as you would in the UK, including calling, texting and data usage and you will only be charged on the days you use your phone. The day is calculated according to the capital city of the country you are in and it runs from midnight to midnight.
The Roam-further destinations are: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Democratic Republic of Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lesotho, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Russia, Saba, Serbia, Singapore, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, South Africa, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Suriname, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, United States of America.
For more information, visit the Vodafone website.
Three offers its Feel At Home incentive to Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go customers, offering free roaming in 60 countries, some of which are not in the EU.
It doesn’t matter what device you are using and like Vodafone, you can use your phone as you would in the UK but Three doesn’t charge you anything for the privilege when you go further afield, such as the US or Australia. What’s more, it works on PAYG plans too.
The Feel at Home destinations are: Åland Islands, Australia, Austria, Azores, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Channel Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Madeira, Martinique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of Ireland, Réunion, Romania, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, United States of America.
The US Virgin Islands and Vatican City are both on the list for “coming soon”.
There is one snag, if you have All-You-Can-Eat data, texts and minutes then only up to 12GB, 5000 texts and 3000 minutes are included in the incentive for no extra charge but that’s still quite a lot. You also have to be on one of Three’s Advanced plans if you’re a Pay Monthly customer, and if you’re PAYG you’ll need to convert your credit into an Add-on to use Feel at Home.
It’s also worth noting that to benefit from Feel At Home, you need to have been a Three customer for more than 30 days and if you are a Pay As You Go customer, you need to convert your credit into an Add-on.
For more information, visit the Three website.
O2 offers free roaming to countries within its Europe Zone. Just like Vodafone and Three, Pay Monthly customers travelling to any of the countries within the O2’s Europe Zone can use their minutes, data and text allowances as they would at home.
The Europe Zone destinations are: Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vatican City.
The Europe Zone applies to PAYG customers too but Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Monaco and Switzerland are not included as they are for Pay Monthly customers. PAYG customers visiting these five countries can opt into the O2 Travel Bolt on, where you will also be charged £1.99 for data with a limit of 100MB a day, while calls will cost 4p per minute to make and free to receive. Texts cost 1p per message when sent to the UK or elsewhere in Europe.
O2 also offer the O2 Travel Bolt on for Pay Monthly customers visiting some destinations outside of the Europe Zone. Customers will be charged £3.99 a day for Turkey, or £4.99 a day when in any of these destinations: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, UAE, Uruguay, United States of America, Venezuela.
O2 Travel has a daily allowance of 120 minutes for both making and receiving calls, 120 texts and unlimited data for Pay Monthly customers. PAYG customers have the same limit as mentioned above. You’ll only be charged on the days you choose to use it.
You can find out more information on the O2 website.
EE offers all customers on all contracts, Pay Monthly and PAYG, free roaming in 48 destinations across Europe. Those on 4GEE Max contracts will also get roaming in a few more places further afield.
As with the other networks, you’ll be able to “roam like home”, using your data, minute and text allowances. A maximum of 15GB of data can be used while roaming, after which you’ll need to buy a data add-on if you want to keep using data whilst roaming.
EE’s European Roaming Zone destinations are: Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Canary Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guyana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, San Marino, Saint Martin (French), Saint Barthelemy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City (Italy).
Customers on the 4GEE Max plans also have roaming included in: Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and USA.
For those not on 4GEE Max plans and travelling to one of the five countries included on the Max plans, you can add a World Select Talk and Text add-on. This will give you unlimited calls and texts for £5 a day, with the day running from midnight to midnight in the country you are in. No data is included with this add on though.
There is also a data add on however, called Travel Data Pass. This will offer 500MB of data per day and prices differ depending on the country. For example, it will cost you £3 a day for Turkey, £4 a day for United States of America and Canada or £5 a day for Australia, New Zealand, UAE, India, Thailand, Mexico, South Africa and China.
EE’s offers are a little more complicated than Vodafone and Three so it’s worth going on the EE website to work out your best option and find out exactly how much your specific destination might cost.
T-Mobile & Orange
Both T-Mobile and Orange customers are able to use their UK allowances in 47 European destinations.
It is not clear which country is excluded for T-Mobile and Orange customers compared to EE customers and information on add ons for the two networks when in countries outside of the 47 countries is also scarce.
Previous information for worldwide travel suggested Orange Pay Monthly customers can add a Talk & Text bundle that will give you 30 per cent off all your calls and texts for £5.10, allowing you to make a call for 84p a minute and send a text for 35p when you’re in the USA for example. It also said you could add 20MB of data for £3 a day or 100MB for £10 a day. Whether this remains the case is yet to be confirmed.
If you’re with T-Mobile and travelling to America then there are no add ons for calls and texts but you can opt for the Zone A Internet Travel Booster 200MB or 500MB to use for seven days, which will cost you £20 or £40 respectively. Again, if this is still the case, is not currently known.
We would recommend visiting the EE website where you can select Orange or T-Mobile and the destination you plan to go to for more information on costs for individual countries.
iD from Carphone Warehouse
The Carphone Warehouse network, iD, offers “Roam Like at Home” for its Pay Monthly, SIM Only and PAYG customers in 50 countries. As with the other networks, customers will be able to use their UK minutes, texts and data for no extra charge.
The Roam Like at Home countries are: Austria, Azerbaijan, Azores, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Réunion, Romania, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Vatican City.
Customers on the iD’s TakeAway plans will also see the United States of America and Australia included within the Roam Like at Home destination list. Unlike Vodafone and Three, there doesn’t appear to be a daily rate for other worldwide destinations though.
For customers on GoTo and ShockProof plans, as well as TakeAway customers travelling to destinations other than the US and Australia, the iD network offers a comprehensive list of roaming costs on its site here.
Tesco Mobile offers its Home From Home incentive in 48 European destinations for all its customers. Customers can call, text and use data in the Home from Home countries without any extra cost on top of their existing price plans.
Minutes, texts and data limits will still apply as at home. That covers both PAYG and pay monthly customers.
Home from Home destinations are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain including Canary Islands Sweden, Switzerland.
As with Three, a maximum of 12GB of monthly data can be used when abroad. Following this, you will need to pay an additional charge per MB.
Tesco Mobile caps data usage to 5MB so you cannot exceed £40 of spend while abroad elsewhere. That’s because it charges £8 per MB if you are outside the Home from Home countries so be wary of using data anywhere other than in Europe or at a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Call charges from outside the EU can also be very pricey. Calls when you are in the US, for example, cost from 89p a minute to make or receive. Sending texts costs 40p a text. For more information on costs from specific countries, you can visit the Tesco Mobile website.