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Mobile roaming fees are coming back – what you need to know

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Written by: Emma Lunn
05/01/2022
EE, Vodafone and Three are re-introducing roaming charges for customers travelling to Europe after consumer-friendly roaming rules were scrapped after Brexit.

For Vodafone customers, from 31 January charges will start from £1 a day for a single day pass for use in the EU and will apply to new and upgrading customers who signed up or changed their plan after 11 August 2021.

Mobile users who signed up with EE after 7 July 2021 will be charged £2 a day to use their allowances in the EU from 3 March onwards.

EE, which is part of BT, previously said it had no plans to reintroduce roaming charges in Europe.

Both networks intially planned to reintroduce roaming from 1 January but have both pushed back the dates the new charges will apply.

British holidaymakers have benefited from free roaming costs in the EU since 2017. EU rules meant that UK mobile customers could use their mobile call, text and data allowance in Europe without incurring extra costs. But Brexit means the rule no longer stands.

Both EE and Vodafone customers can reduce what they pay for roaming by buying a pass when they go abroad. EE customers can buy a 30-day Roam Abroad Pass for £10, while Vodafone users can pay £1 a day for an eight or 15-day multipass.

A Vodafone UK spokesperson said: “We have pushed back the introduction of roaming charges to the end of January, giving time for further testing to ensure the best possible experience for customers purchasing our £1 per day bundles. Until then, customers will continue to be able to roam without charges.”

O2 hasn’t re-introduced roaming charges for everyone but it has tweaked its policy so that those customers with a data limit of 25GB or more a month will be charged £3.50 for every gigabyte of data used above 25GB.

Three will bring in a £2 daily roaming charge from 23 May. This will apply to customers who joined the network or upgraded after 1 October 2021.

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, said: “When the first mobile operators announced they were reintroducing roaming charges, their rivals were quick to follow suit. Now that one has postponed bringing them back, it’s happening in reverse.

“Roaming charges are deeply unpopular with mobile users, who rightly feel aggrieved by a return to charges to access minutes and data they have already paid for. Rather than delaying these charges, many consumers would like to see mobile operators scrap them entirely.

“If you’re going on holiday, or travelling abroad for a longer time, you can save money by paying for multi-day passes with Vodafone, or Roam Abroad with EE. Existing customers of EE, Vodafone or Three, should check their contract to see whether these new charges apply to them. If you signed up before the specific dates, you should be safe.” 

Gareth Shaw, Which? head of money, said: “As the UK continues to negotiate trade deals, it should take the opportunity to lower the cost of roaming for consumers travelling around the world. The UK and EU should also work to strike a deal on roaming charges to stop companies chipping away at the roaming benefits customers have become used to and to ensure the high charges people used to face do not return.”

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