Mobile phones abroad: check roaming fees before travel

Virtually everyone has a mobile phone these days. Let’s face it, how many of us could survive without one? We all want instant contact: make a short call; send a quick text message, and we simply have to check our emails whenever we get the chance. But how many of us stop to think about what happens when we go on holiday? What are the roaming charges and what sort of bill are we going to face when we get home?

Apparently, most of us don’t bother checking, in fact, in a recent survey of 7000 people almost 60 per cent of UK travellers are not aware of the new EU roaming cap for Internet access within Europe. This is despite over half regularly accessing websites from their smartphones when on an overseas trip.

The research, carried out by budget accommodation portal budgetplaces.com, discovered that, despite over a quarter of people making between five and eight trips abroad per year, 74 per cent of travellers do not contact their network operator to get the best deal before hopping on a plane.

A further 90 per cent confessed to not having any idea what their operators charge for accessing the web when overseas, with 60 per cent saying they considered the £45 cap too high and would be upset if charged this amount.

“The roaming cap is a positive step to prevent enormous bills on returning home, but it’s clear travellers don’t know exactly what they are paying while abroad. This is leading to unexpected, yet avoidable, costs on top of their holiday,” said John Erceg, MD at budgetplaces.com.

Based on its experiences, budgetplaces.com has put together its top three tips for cash-conscious consumers:

  1. Check before you travel – call your operator and find out what its pricing structure is. Quite often, they will have add-on ‘bundles’ available, meaning you’ll know what you’re paying before leaving the UK.
  2. Use smart apps – find the quickest and easiest apps to use, such as those that allow you to complete actions without using additional sites, minimising time online and therefore cost.
  3. Shop around – find areas that offer free Wi-Fi facilities, your hotel may have this (as do the majority of hotels bookable on www.budgetplaces.com), or cafes often allow customers access. Then you can surf to your heart’s content for the price of an espresso.

“By planning ahead and getting the best deal, travellers can ensure that more of their holiday budget goes on experiencing different cultures and exploring the sites rather than worrying about unexpected bills when you get home,” added Erceg.