7 ways to save money on mobile roaming this summer

Using your mobile phone on holiday can be expensive, especially for Brits with many UK providers now removing the provision for free roaming in the EU, it’s important to know how much you’ll be paying when you travel abroad. You should still be particularly cautious if you’re travelling outside the EU, where prices can differ more dramatically. save money on mobile roaming

Along with all the other price increases we’re facing during the cost of living crisis, roaming charges for using your calls, texts and data while in Europe are making a comeback. Of the big four UK mobile networks, EE, Three and Vodafone have already announced they are reintroducing roaming charges for customers travelling in Europe.  That leaves just O2 and a collection of smaller networks still offering free roaming in the EU. Depending on the terms of your contract, mobile roaming can end up being extortionate in Europe, and even more expensive further afield.  However, there are a number of ways to cut your costs while travelling, from switching provider to getting a roam-friendly pay-as-you-go Sim, or even a local Sim card in the country you’re visiting.

1. Stick to using wi-fi save money on mobile roaming

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. It’s pretty common to get free wi-fi in holiday accommodation these days, and bars, restaurants and other venues will often be happy to furnish you with a password for their public wi-fi. This is the easiest way to make savings on roaming costs, and can cover you in most situations if you’re frequenting the same spots. In terms of whether it’s safe to use public wi-fi, if you stick to legitimate wi-fi networks of the venues you’re visiting (don’t just try and hop onto any available network), avoid those who request too much personal data to sign up, and you’re only using it for general browsing rather than more sensitive activities, like online banking, you should be fine.

2. Use a provider that doesn’t charge for EU roaming save money on mobile roaming

If you’re travelling within the EU, there are still providers that allow you to use your UK bundle at no extra cost.

Always check the terms and conditions in case anything has changed since the last time you travelled, make sure the country you’re travelling to is included, and be aware of any data usage limits. If you use more than a certain amount of data while travelling, you might start being charged for roaming.

3. Travelling outside the EU? Look for a good roaming package

Providers who have reintroduced roaming charges are now offering roaming add-ons. You pay a set fee to be allowed to use your bundle of calls, texts and data in a different country as you would in the UK.

Having to pay for these add-ons may be worth it if you don’t want to switch, or try one of the other methods below, but they could easily add £30 or more per person to the cost of a two week holiday.  As always, make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully so that you don’t end up with a shockingly high bill when you return home.  It’s even more important to keep on top of your mobile usage while abroad, as you can be hit with data caps and excess usage charges.

uk roaming
Source: Which?

4. Get a local Sim card

If you are travelling to a destination on a longer trip, or return to the same country multiple times a year, it might be worth getting a local Sim card.  As with getting a PAYG Sim, this would involve getting a new number.  Depending on how long you will be in the country and how much you expect to use your phone, you can either get a prepaid Sim card, or sign up to a rolling monthly deal.

You can buy a prepaid Sim card when you arrive in the country, which includes a local phone number and a bundle of calls, texts and data that you can top up as often as needed. These are often available from airports, or mobile phone stores and newsagents.  You will then be able to make calls, send texts and use data just like you would at home, but without paying any roaming fees.

A prepaid Sim card is usually valid for 6 months from the moment you activate it, or from each time you top up.

 

5. Use a hotspot

If someone else you are travelling with has a roaming package, you could use their phone as a wi-fi hotspot and connect to it with your phone. Just double-check that your roaming package allows this – sometimes referred to as ‘tethering’.

6. Buy a International Sim card just for your holiday

If your mobile provider is charging for mobile roaming but you don’t want to switch provider, you could just buy a Sim for your travels and swap it into your phone. If you have a phone with a dual-Sim slot, you can keep your existing Sim and use your phone settings to switch between them when you go on holiday. You’ll have a new phone number, but this could be manageable.

For example, you could set up a new Whatsapp profile called ‘(Your Name – holiday Sim)’ and then share this new number with people you will need to contact while travelling. The table below shows how much a range of providers charge for PAYG call and data costs, including when you roam in the EU.

You could buy a second Sim on a rolling monthly contract, but the obvious advantage of PAYG is that there are no recurring fees – you top up your call credit manually and then only pay for what you use. However, check the T&Cs on PAYG deals, as they usually require you to use the Sim (eg: make a call, or use data) periodically to ensure it is not deactivated.

If you want SIM card this is the best one; if you prefer eSIM and instant connectivity, get it here

7. Turn off roaming save money on mobile roaming

If you will be incurring a charge to roam, or are with a provider that charges you for a roaming package when you use your data abroad, keep roaming switched off in your phone settings until you really need it.

 

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