Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy

EU puts cap on holiday mobile bills

Using mobiles abroad gets cheaper from today

Pay to recieve calls on you mobile abroad

Picking up voicemail messages abroad will cost as much as calling the UK

Mobile roaming rules that come into force today mean you no longer need to worry about running up huge bills from using your mobile in EU countries.

EU roaming regulations have cut the cost of making and receiving calls in EU countries and minimised the risk of mobile bill shock when you arrive home after spending time abroad. 

Check out Which? Mobile for a host of reviews and free advice on buying and using mobiles. 

New EU mobile roaming rules

From 1 July 2010, when you use your mobile in EU countries mobile operators must:

  • Charge no more than €0.39 (about 32p) per minute to make calls, €0.15 per minute to receive calls and €0.11 to send texts (it’s free to receive texts).
  • Apply an automatic cut-off once your mobile internet use (data roaming) reaches €50 (about £42), unless you choose another cut-off limit or opt-out.
  • Send users a warning when they reach 80% of their data roaming limit.  
  • Keep you well-informed of charges for using your mobile abroad, sending an information text when you arrive at your destination.
  • Use ‘per second’ billing after the first 30 seconds for calls made, and immediately for calls received. 

The EU roaming regulation remains in place after mobile operators’ attempts to challenge the caps were thrown out of the European Court in June. 

Data roaming safety net

Using your mobile to access the internet in Europe typically costs in the region of £3 per MB. A single music track is usually around 4 or 5MB so costs can rack up quickly. Some mobile users have been caught out to the tune of thousands of pounds from using the mobile internet abroad for data-intensive tasks such as watching online TV on their mobiles. 

Which? mobile expert Ceri Stanaway says: ‘The EU’s €50 data roaming cap will provide a safety net for mobile users who might otherwise be caught out by the high cost of using the mobile internet on holiday.

‘The further cuts to the cost of making and receiving calls are welcome too. However the cost of calls, texts and mobile internet remains high compared to using your mobile in the UK. Make sure you know the charges and only spend what you can afford.

Worldwide mobile costs still too high

‘Bear in mind that the roaming regulation only applies in EU countries’, Ceri adds. ‘Venture further afield and you still have no protection against running up bills of hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

‘Although there’s no equivalent of the European Commission to regulate mobile roaming charges on a global scale, we’d like to see mobile operators voluntarily apply some of the sensible measures the EC has put in place, such as providing clear information and allowing mobile owners to put a cap on their usage.’

Outside of EU countries, the cost of using your mobile abroad can exceed £1 a minute to make and receive calls, and can be up to £8 per MB of mobile data. 

How to follow the latest Which? Tech news

Are you a Twitter user? Follow WhichTech on Twitter for regular tech tweets.

Prefer RSS? Don’t miss a thing with the Which? tech RSS feed

For just the main headlines in newsletter form, sign-up to our weekly Which? tech email.

Apple iPad 2 3G data plans compared – find the best 3G plan for your iPad
Best Android tablets round-up – we look at the best iPad alternatives around
Best cheap laptops for under £500 – find the best laptop deals

Back to top