This week sees the introduction of a ban on roaming charges throughout the European Union (EU).
Under the new system, set to be implemented on June 15th, mobile operators won’t be able to add roaming charges for calls, texts and internet browsing when phone users are overseas.
As a result, British travellers can use their regular allowance in any EU member state.
That will be a great relief for anyone taking a summer holiday in the EU in the coming months, as many of us will have been stung in the past with unexpected charges and sky-high bills when we get back from a trip abroad.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t still be a few potential surprises in store. For instance, consumer group Which? has pointed out that calls and texts sent from UK mobiles to the EU will still incur charges.
After all, the new rules only apply to roaming, so there could be significant variations in price if you’re looking to ring somebody up.
Furthermore, you’ll be charged in the EU just as you would at home if you exceed your agreed minutes, texts and data.
Mobile providers will each charge different rates when this happens, with Three, for example, charging 3p per minute for calling a UK mobile phone and Vodafone charging 55p per minute for doing exactly the same.
Text and data charges will also vary significantly, and while customers will be told when they exceed their agreed usage, it could still pose a nasty surprise when you see your bill later on.
Furthermore, Which? points out that different providers have included different countries in their roaming territories, and further variations apply depending on what type of contract you’re on.
For instance, if you are a pay as you go customer with O2, you’ll face roaming charges in Switzerland, Monaco, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, but you won’t if you’re an O2 pay-monthly customer.
Confused? Probably! The best advice is therefore to check your contract before heading overseas. Which? notes that while most providers have informed people about the changes and which countries are part of their roaming bundle, it is still best to check ahead of your trip that you fully understand what you’re allowed to do on your package.
Leisure travellers are also advised that if they want to avoid any additional fees, they should use Wi-Fi whenever they can and connect to free apps such as WhatsApp and Skype to send messages and make calls.
Another option could also be to switch to a different mobile provider if you aren’t happy with the price and bundle being offered to you, as more suitable and less expensive options could be available elsewhere.
Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services at Which?, commented: “Many will reap the benefits of these changes and will no longer be put off from making calls abroad.
“However, it is important that you take a close look at what is or isn’t included in your current mobile deal. Not knowing what’s included could lead to some surprising charges on your next bill.”