The perfect and worst cell suppliers for information roaming costs overseas



On a enterprise journey to Cairo, I arrived late at evening anticipating a driver to fulfill me. No one was there. Time to make a name. I’d made the association by way of my information utilizing WhatsApp messaging in order that appeared the simplest option to get solutions. I flicked cell roaming again on and sorted the issue out. The price of that message trade was £160.

My supplier O2 had already alerted me by textual content message that information would price me a whopping £7.20 per megabyte (MB) however I didn’t anticipate to spend any greater than that. Huge mistake. It appeared that my cellphone had used 26MB to replace all its apps as a result of I had auto-update switched on.

I felt fairly silly at making what I assumed was a rookie error however a good friend simply again from New York had the same shock. His cell service is offered by EE as a part of his BT Enterprise account and inside minutes he’d reached his information cap of £120. All as a result of he’d didn’t notify EE that he’d prefer to activate Roam Overseas.

Information roaming costs are complicated and range extensively by supplier and vacation spot. However one factor’s assured: utilizing 4G on the hoof gobbles up information at an alarming fee. You should utilize up 1MB of information checking a navigation app and 10MB shopping the net or checking Fb for a couple of minutes. Add and ship a photograph and also you’re additionally immediately in multi-megabyte territory.

The UK has 4 essential cell networks: EE, Three, Vodafone and O2. Third-party suppliers use one in all these networks for entry. Apart from O2 and some third-party suppliers (Virgin, Speak Speak and Tesco) who’ve resisted reimposed European roaming charges, cell roaming is now not free in Europe.

New clients signing up direct with EE, Three and Vodafone – and those that have renewed their contract or joined the supplier after the 2021 deadline without spending a dime EU roaming – now pay a flat day by day fee for calls, texts and information roaming in Europe as much as the restrict of their UK allowance.These vary from £2 per day with Three; £2.25 per day (£15 for 15 days) with Vodafone and £2.29 per day (£15 a month) with EE. Solely clients who’ve been ‘in contract’ earlier than the closing dates in 2021 can proceed to make use of their allowance in Europe freed from cost.

There are methods across the costs in the event you journey frequently. Cellular corporations could embody free roaming in Europe, and typically additional afield, on chosen – for which learn costlier – pay-monthly Sim-only and cellphone contracts or as a part of promotional offers to draw new clients.

In case your new cellphone plan doesn’t embody roaming or a fairly priced add-on, the surest option to keep away from an enormous invoice is to activate flight mode, be sure you use Wi-Fi for calls, net shopping and downloads, and set a low roaming cost cap to be used in emergencies.

Journey SIMs and e-SIMs

There are occasions when you actually need to fireplace up roaming although: to order a taxi on the road, to make use of Google Translate’s chat facility, or to seek out out the place you’re (although has good offline GPS-enabled mapping).

For those who’re travelling independently it’s a good suggestion to purchase a neighborhood SIM card. Newer smartphones often embody a twin SIM facility or, for iPhone 12 and 13, you may convert your UK account into an e-SIM so you need to use the SIM slot for a neighborhood card or vice-versa.

In international locations the place the bureaucratic hoops make it troublesome to acquire a neighborhood SIM, contemplate shopping for one earlier than you permit. A number of corporations now supply journey e-SIMs within the type of Apps to cowl information utilization. Verify the record of locations as some cowl international locations that others don’t.

Airalo has a wide range of country-specific and regional packages. A seven-day 1GB e-SIM masking locations like Turkey, India and the US prices from $4.50 (£3.50); area e-SIMs price from $15 (£11.80). Nomad has related costs for 1GB. Holafly costs extra however has wider protection and contains limitless information. These are newish Apps and we want to hear suggestions from readers who’ve used them.

In case your cell phone solely helps a bodily SIM card, Dataroam sells a world pay-as-you-go card that can be utilized in 27 non-EU international locations. 1GB of information prices from £29.99 for 30 days within the US rising to £69.99 in Singapore.

Pay-monthly offers from the 4 essential suppliers

The 4 essential networks supply a wide range of roaming packages; some come free as a part of costlier contracts, others contain paying a day by day cost. Verify the record of nations lined rigorously earlier than signing up as there are important omissions within the protection of some suppliers.

In international locations the place there’s no roaming cross or add-on deal out there you’ll have to pay commonplace roaming charges, as I did in Egypt: £1-£2 per minute for calls; 50-60p for texts, and £6-£10 per megabyte for information.

To keep away from clients working up enormous payments for the supplier in international locations with costly cell networks, corporations have a Honest Utilization Coverage as private accounts are designed for vacation journey and never for travelling on enterprise or spending time at a second house overseas. Excessive utilization shall be noticed and will set off additional costs or a discount in pace from 4G to 3G.


O2 doesn’t cost any clients for roaming in Europe, the one main community to not impose costs. Clients on chosen O2 Refresh and and SIM-only tariffs – and related Virgin Volt clients – are additionally eligible without spending a dime roaming in 27 locations outdoors Europe by way of its Journey Bolt On deal which incorporates limitless minutes, texts and information roaming. Different clients can entry a paid-for Journey Bolt On for £6 a day which covers 68 international locations outdoors of Europe. For different international locations there are information roaming bundles; eg 1GB in India prices £65.


EE clients on costlier Good Advantages or Full Works plans can select a Roam Overseas cross as a profit to keep away from the £2.29 day by day cost in Europe. Different clients (who joined after July 7, 2021) should buy a Roam Overseas cross for £15 for 30 days to entry their UK plan allowance in Europe, North America, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

There are not any offers for utilizing your UK allowance to journey to different locations. You will have to activate a Journey Information Go costing £6.26-£7.84 a day for a comparatively small quantity of information (150-500MB). This makes EE an costly choice for roaming worldwide.


Chosen Vodafone Xtra Plans will let you use your UK allowance in as much as 83 locations worldwide, Cheaper plans purchased after August 11, 2021 exclude roaming (aside from Eire, Iceland and Norway) which prices £2.25 a day in Europe and £6.85 a day in an additional 73 worldwide locations. The record contains costly locations corresponding to India, Egypt and Singapore which different suppliers typically exclude from roaming offers.


For Pay Month-to-month plans with Three beginning after October 1, 2021 you may entry Go Roam in Europe for £2 a day and Go Roam World for £5 a day together with a lot fo the Caribbean and South America, the US and Australia however oddly not Canada. To entry discounted roaming in an additional 18 international locations together with Canada, Turkey and Thailand you will have to purchase a Information Passport. This prices £5 a day for limitless information solely.

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