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Roaming charges could have cost UK holidaymakers up to £80m this summer

Following a bumper summer for European travel, new data from Virgin Media O2 shows that the reintroduction of European roaming charges by some mobile operators in the UK could have cost holidaymakers up to £80 million across July and August – over £8.9 million every week. That’s according to new anonymised, aggregated movement data collected by O2 Motion*- which uses connections to mobile masts to gain insight into crowd movement trends. eu roaming uk

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The data shows that volumes to ten top destinations in July and August more than tripled compared to last summer. But while holidaymakers have been enjoying the sunshine, the reintroduction of European roaming charges from many UK networks has meant travellers to the top five countries alone (Spain, France, Greece, Italy and Portugal) could have faced extra costs of up to £64 million in just nine weeks. As the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, high roaming costs could have a further negative impact on consumer spending and make families think twice ahead of half term in October.


Over July and August, estimated roaming charges for non-O2 customers could have cost: eu roaming uk

  • Travellers to Spain near £26.1 million, which is the equivalent of purchasing roughly 2.5 million litres of fruity sangria or 1.5 million aromatic paellas.
  • Holidaymakers in France up to £14.8 million, which could have bought 15.2 million crunchy baguettes or 448,000 kilos of pungent brie.
  • Tourists in Greece close to £9.6 million, which could have been spent on 2.3 million fresh Greek salads or 4.4 million tasty Gyros.


Earlier this year, Virgin Media O2 announced it would not be reintroducing roaming fees in Europe, making it the only big four mobile network in the UK not to bring back the charges. Customers on both O2 and Virgin Mobile can travel to destinations all over Europe and use their data, calls and texts just as they would in the UK***.

Gareth Turpin, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “As people continue to feel the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, it’s alarming to see just how much European roaming charges have cost this summer. We’re proud to be the only major mobile network to not bring back roaming fees in Europe, so our customers can roam freely, with one less thing to worry about as they take well-earned holidays.

“Our data shows that this summer European travel has bounced back to pre-pandemic highs, and we know that many UK travellers rely on their mobiles to help them navigate, explore and make the most of their time away. We’re committed to upgrading the holiday experience for people in the UK, providing BNESIM sim cards at home and abroad.”


*O2 Motion data was captured from w/c 4th July to the end of w/c 29th August inclusive, in Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Cyprus, Croatia and Austria
** Analysis of daily charge rates from other providers suggests that a family of four going abroad for two weeks could see £100 or more added to their holiday bill when using their phones each day.
*** Consumer tariffs: 25GB limit where allowance is 25GB or more. See Business tariffs: Customers on O2 Unlimited Data business tariffs will be charged if their usage exceeds 35GB in O2’s Europe Zone.  eu roaming uk


All estimates are based on an average £2 per day roaming charge with alternative mobile network operators. Figures are calculated by multiplying average weekly volumes of anonymised crowd movement data based on connections to the O2 mobile phone network across Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Cyprus, Croatia and Austria with the average weekly cost of roaming with alternative mobile network operators. eu roaming uk


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