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couple using phone on holidau

When you can – and can’t – use your phone abroad without getting charged more

New EU rules have come in to place today which put an end to additional “roaming” charges in most of Europe. This will hopefully see many holiday phone bills become far more manageable.

You can now text, call and use your data in 28 countries for the same price as you would at home in the UK. If you’ve got an allowance as part of your contract most networks will let you use that too.

However, some will limit how much data you can use. It’s called “fair use”, so it’s worth checking just how much you are actually able to use.

Another part of the rule you need to be aware of is this is aimed at people on holiday, not those living abroad.

You’ll also be charged for international calls if you call an EU number – whether you’re in the UK or abroad.

Which countries are covered by the new rules

  • Austria, 
  • Belgium, 
  • Bulgaria,
  • Croatia,
  • Republic of Cyprus, 
  • Czech Republic,
  • Denmark,
  • Estonia,
  • Finland,
  • France,
  • Germany,
  • Greece, 
  • Hungary,
  • Ireland,
  • Italy,
  • Latvia, 
  • Lithuania,
  • Luxembourg, 
  • Malta,
  • Netherlands,
  • Poland,
  • Portugal, 
  • Romania,
  • Slovakia, 
  • Slovenia,
  • Spain,
  • Sweden 
  • UK

What about outside Europe?

There are countries within Europe which are excluded including Switzerland, Turkey and Serbia, alongside with all other destinations around the world.

It will cost you a lot of money to use your phone in these countries, particularly any data. Check what the costs will be, and if necessary ask your network to put a cap on your account so you can’t accidentally spend hundreds of pounds while away.

Some networks will allow you to add bolt-ons to your contract which reduce the costs, though these can still be expensive.

How to keep phone costs down when abroad

We’ve a few tips that should help you keep on top of your phone bill when on holiday

  • Use wi-fi where you can, though make sure it’s secure
  • Download apps such as Skype or Whatsapp and use them on wi-fi to talk and message friends
  • Turn off data on your phone before you leave the airport or ferry terminal
  • Call your network and ask for voicemail to be switched off – some networks charge you for receiving messages, even if you don’t check them
  • You can download offline maps to help you navigate without turning data back on
  • Consider switching to a network which lets you use your inclusive minutes, texts and data in selected countries outside the EU.

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