How changes to EU data roaming will affect you

Using your mobile phone when you’re on holiday in Europe is about to become a lot cheaper.


From June 2017, new European Union (EU) regulation will put an end to the sky-high fees mobile networks charge their customers abroad and you’ll be able to use your mobile anywhere in the EU on the same terms as you would at home.

In other words, you’ll be charged the same amount for making a phone call from a sun lounger in Spain as you would from your sofa at home.

In the meantime, from April 2016 telecoms operators across Europe will be restricted on how much they can charge their customers for overseas use, before the blanket changes come into place a year later. 

The European Commission expects the cap will cut data roaming bills by around 75% during the interim period.

Cap breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of the caps that will come into place from April 2016 to June 2017:

   30 April 2016  15 June 2017
 Outgoing voice calls (per minute)  €0.05  no extra roaming fee, same as national rate
 Incoming voice calls (per minute)  to be confirmed**  no extra roaming fee, same as national rate
 Outgoing texts (per SMS message)  €0.02  no extra roaming fee, same as national rate
 Online (data download, per MB*)  €0.05  no extra roaming fee, same as national rate

*The tariff is per megabyte to download data or browse the internet whilst travelling abroad (charged per kilobyte used).

** To be confirmed by the EU by December 31 2015

4 ways to keep costs down

But while this is great news for consumers, if you’re heading abroad before these new rules come into play – perhaps you’re planning to get some winter sun or are looking forward to a New Year getaway - there are a number of other tips and tricks that will ensure you’re not left with an expensive bill when you come home from your travels.

1. Check-in on the hotel wi-fi

If you need to check your emails while you are away, use the wi-fi at your hotel to avoid racking up roaming fees as your emails download.

2. Fully close down your apps

Apps can not only drain your battery while dormant, they can also eat into your data allowance.

Ensure they are properly shut down so your mobile bill isn’t unexpectedly high.

3. Contact your mobile phone provider before you go

Give your mobile provider a call to find out its specific pricing on using your mobile phone abroad. If you anticipate you’ll be using a lot of data it might be worth taking out a bundle designed for use abroad or buying a cheap SIM before you go.

4. Download maps and documents offline

Get organised by syncing all your necessities offline. This can be anything from maps and documents to your favourite Spotify playlists, podcasts and TV programmes that can be accessed without being online.  

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