Using your mobile abroad

Once you leave the UK you can no longer guarantee the free calls, minutes and data on your mobile tariff

But it is EASY to avoid HUGE bills for using your mobile abroad

If keeping your phone off is NOT an option find out what your network offers, there are some GREAT deals

Or consider buying a local SIM for your trip abroad

From April 2016 things are about to get cheaper in Europe. Click here for infomation on the recent data roaming charge ban


Need to know

  • If you are going on a short term holiday to a destination in the European Union (EU) or EEA (EU + Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) your network will often offer the best package to keep your costs down
  • Recent changes to data roaming rules in Europe mean that we'll all soon be paying less (see table below)
  • Not all of Europe has the Euro Tariff, if you are travelling to Turkey or Switzerland you need to check with your network whether they are covered in any deals
  • Using your phone outside Europe can cost over £2 a minute!!! If you’re only using your phone in emergencies, then calling your network and asking what add-ons you can get should make the cost bearable
  • If you are going to be using your phone A LOT either in Europe or further afield then getting a local or global SIM will be the cheapest option
  • You will need an unlocked handset to use a local or global SIM from companies like 0044. The SIM will have an initial cost -the Australian SIM costs £14.99 but comes with £5 credit and reduces local calls in Australia to under 9p a minute, calls to the UK to 3p a minute and data to 15p per MB
  • Set up your phone for calling and texting via the internet (with apps like Skype and Whatsapp). An increasing number of hotels and public places will have free wifi you can use to contact home. If you access BT fon at home you can also access it at over 1 million places overseas, check the map to see if there are any hot spots where you're travelling
  • Make sure your mobile internet data (usually found under Settings, data roaming) is SWITCHED OFF when you’re not using it, as some apps attempt to automatically connect to the internet
  • Receiving texts is free, so encourage those at home to text rather than call

What the networks offer

You will need to call your network to make sure your phone is activated for use abroad

Some of the networks offer bundles and apps to make travelling with your phone easier, others like EE and Virgin price the EU and other countries individually so you will need to check their site before you go


Why we like it:

  • There is NO EXTRA COST to use your inclusive minutes, texts and data allowance in 18 different countries - including France and the US
  • This means that using your mobile in these countries is effectively FREE
  • If you don't already have a Three tariff, you can even just get a SIM card to use everytime you travel

Watch out:

  • You will have to pay more if you go over your allowance
  • Not for extended use abroad
  • Calls to 08 numbers will be charged at up to 16.6p a minute


Why we like it:

  • O2 Travel bolt on for £1.99 a day gives 15MB data and only charges 50p to connect a call and then is free to talk for 60mins
  • Check with the MyO2 app or call 202 to find out if you have O2 Travel

Watch out:

  • if you don't think this will be worth your while you need to opt out by texting NOTRAVEL to 23336
  • Worldwide bolt ons are expensive charging £6.00 per mb of data and up to £1.50 per minute for phone calls


Why we like it:

  • Unlimited calls and texts in selected European countries for £2 a day
  • 50mb data add-on for £3 a day
  • 20mb add-on available for £3 a day in USA and Austrailia
  • Easy to keep track of exactly what you're spending

Watch out:

  • Unlimited calls and texts are activated every time you travel abroad so to remove text EUSTOP to 441


Why we like it:

  • Euro Traveller allows you to access your tariff in the EU for £3 a day
  • Data Traveller allows you to buy 25MB of data for £5 for use in the rest of the world

Watch out:

  • Euro Traveller removes the data spending cap
  • you will need to call (5555) and activate your phone for use overseas
  • BIG costs for the rest of the world- £1.65 a minute to call from Barbados

Get a local or global sim


Why we like it:

  • save up to 90% with a local SIM
  • reduces calls back to the UK
  • reduces calls around the country
  • also have Global SIMS

Watch out:

  • one off cost applies (around £15 per SIM) so only worthwhile for heavy users and those travelling for a longer time

EURO tariff cap

Maximum tariffs (excluding VAT) for calls, texts and downloading data:


1 July 2015

30 April 2016

1 July 2017

Outgoing voice calls (per minute)




Incoming voice calls (per minute)




Outgoing texts (per SMS message)




Online (data download, per MB*)




*The tariff is per Megabyte to download data or browse the Internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per Kilobyte used). 2016 and 2015 prices are provisional


The inside track

  •  BEWARE ON THE BRITISH COAST! Occasionally your phone will think you're abroad and try and charge you. A quick call to your network, explaining you're not in France, will get you a refund
  • Remember that giving your friends and family the number to your hotel landline is always an option

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