Vodafone's Europe roaming charges: What does it mean for my phone bill?
Vodafone is the second major UK mobile network to bring back charges for customers who travel to Europe.
Free roaming came about in June 2017 when the UK was still in the EU, meaning people could use a reasonable amount of their existing package in other European countries without being stung by any extra charges.
Brexit meant operators could reimpose charges, though the main four – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – said they had no plans to.
We explain what the change means for your mobile bill when travelling abroad.
– Who will it affect?
New Vodafone customers who join on or after August 11.
Though it does not include existing customers, anyone who upgrades and renews their contract from the same date will also have to pay (so if your contract ends and you leave it rolling and unchanged, you will not fall under the new rules).
But the charges do not come into effect until January 6 2022.
And anyone on the company’s Xtra plans will be not be affected by the move.
– What are the costs?
A daily fee of £2 will apply to use your full EE data, minutes and text allowance when travelling to affected countries in the EU.
However, there are multi-day passes that can be purchased in advance that work out £1 per day – these are available for eight day or 15 day bundles.
– What countries does it include?
The charges will apply to European destinations, though the Republic of Ireland is exempt.
The full list within Vodafone’s ‘Europe Zone’ include: Aland Islands, Austria, Azores, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus except Northern Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France (including Corsica), French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St Barthelemy, St Martin, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City.
– What about other networks?
BT-owned EE announced plans to reintroduce roaming charges for Europe back in June, starting at £2 per day – though it too has bundle passes that can reduce the overall cost.
O2 and Three have avoided going down the same route, so far, and are sticking to fair use limits, which is not out of the ordinary, as this is in line with existing EU rules.
Three’s fair use cap was lowered from 20GB to 12GB a month in July.
O2 has opted for 25GB.
– What should I do to avoid charges?
Vodafone customers should consider adding the eight or 15-day passes for longer trips in EU countries, which will reduce the daily cost to £1.
Many hotels and restaurants offer free wifi these days, so make good use of that.
You could look into switching to another network provider.
Ensure roaming data is switched off in your smartphone’s settings if unsure to avoid any nasty surprises.
Or ultimately, switch your phone off altogether and enjoy your trip without any disturbances.
“When it comes to travelling, don’t leave it till the last minute to check the roaming charges for your destination, and always use hotel and cafe wifi when on holiday where possible,” warned Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com.