roaming on your phone

Saving on summer holiday roaming  

Monday 10th Jun 2024 |

Sun, sea and… surprise bills? Despite Brits losing their right to free EU-wide roaming on January 1, 2021, recent Ofcom data shows almost one in five don’t realise they’re being charged for using their phone on holiday.

With major operators such as EE, Vodafone and Three now charging extra, holidaymakers face returning home to huge bills if they scroll or share online snaps this summer. Here, mobile operator spusu advises on how to avoid roaming charges while abroad. 

Over half of Brits are planning to travel abroad this year, according to research from Post Office Travel Money. However, 51 per cent of those who intend to holiday overseas have dipped into their savings to fund the trip, while 90 per cent of travellers are worried about going over budget.  

With the right to EU-wide roaming removed and the daily limit on roaming charges expiring in 2022, this presents an issue for budget-conscious travellers. Three of the UK’s ‘Big Four’ mobile providers currently charge for using texts, minutes and data abroad, with prices as high as £2.47 per day.  

While this might not seem like a lot, it can quickly add up. For example, a family of four could end up spending close to £140 on roaming during a fortnight’s holiday.  

Starting on October 1, 2024, Ofcom will require mobile operators to let customers know when they start roaming. Providers must publish information about their fair usage policies and time limits, as well as the possibility of setting up a spending cap. They should also tell customers where they can find additional roaming information, allowing them to make more informed decisions about their spending.  

This measure will likely help winter sun seekers save a bit of cash, but it will come into force too late for summer holidaymakers. So, in the meantime, how can you avoid paying for roaming charges abroad?  

Sunny day savings  

The first and most important step to take is making sure you turn off mobile data in your phone’s settings as soon as you hit the tarmac overseas. If you’re travelling with children, do the same for their devices too, to prevent them from unknowingly burning through data by playing internet-enabled games.  

If possible, try to connect to the local WiFi at your hotel or villa. Once connected, you can keep in touch with loved ones at home through WhatsApp WiFi calling or messaging apps, removing the need to use your texts and minutes. Since some apps automatically switch to mobile data if the WiFi connection becomes unstable, it is important that you keep your data turned off at all times.  

Be careful when connecting to WiFi in places like restaurants or shopping centres, as these networks are often unsecured. Using an unprotected network means that none of the information you transfer such as passwords, messages and personal details will be encrypted. It may be tempting to quickly connect while out and about, but it’s not worth having your personal data compromised for the sake of saving a few pounds.  

Instead, try to anticipate what you might need before you fly out. If you’re a bookworm or TV show binger, it’s a good idea to download a few e-books or episodes while still at home, especially since an hour of streaming Netflix can use one Gigabyte (GB) of data. Likewise, if you’re not familiar with the local lingo, you should consider installing an offline translator app to help you decipher menus and other signs.  

Finally, with a bit of forward planning, you can download an offline version of Google Maps for the areas you intend to visit. To do this, simply open your Google Maps app, tap on your profile picture and then ‘Offline maps’. Clicking ‘Select your own map’ will store the Google Maps data for your chosen location without the need for internet.  

Free to roam 

If this sounds like a bit too much effort for your relaxing holiday, you can always choose a mobile provider that doesn’t charge for EU roaming. Each of spusu’s SIM-only plans offers free roaming in the EU’s 37 countries, including summer holiday favourites such as Spain, Greece and France.  

Huge wash loads, rainy weather and returning to work all make heading home from your holiday hard enough. Knowing how to save on international roaming will avoid adding a surprise phone bill to that list.  

To discover spusu’s range of SIM-only deals, starting from less than £10 per month, visit the website 

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