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How to use your mobile abroad

Steve Nowottny, consumer and features editor at MoneySavingExpert.com gives the lowdown on using your mobile abroad

How to use your mobile abroad
Image: Getty

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What can a network charge for using a mobile abroad?
If you’re going to a European Economic Area nation (all 28 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), the ‘Eurotariff’ caps on mobile roaming applies. Every year since 2007 the EU has cut the maximum rate that operators in EU countries can charge their customers for making calls and sending texts when travelling in the region.

On 1 July 2014 a new cap again came into force — this means the maximum charge is now 18.8p/min for making calls, 4.9p/min for receiving calls, 5.9p for sending a text and 19.8p/MB for using data. All the major UK networks charge at or very near these prices.

The really nasty charges come if roaming outside the EEA, where costs are unregulated. Prices vary sharply but can go as high as £2.50/min for a call.

Will I be charged for voicemails?
EU regulations mean you’ll never be charged simply because someone’s left you a voicemail, only if you call your voicemail to listen to messages.

However, it’s also important to understand that outside Europe you may also be charged even if someone leaves you a voicemail and you choose NOT to listen to it. EE, Orange and T-Mobile have a policy of charging you if someone leaves a voicemail — the cost of both an incoming call and an outgoing call. However, O2, Three and Vodafone don’t charge for this.

Is there any way to make it cheaper?
Most networks offer roaming add-ons, which give a bundle of minutes, texts, or data for use abroad. Although cheaper than paying on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis, these still tend to be pricey.

Published in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)