Vodafone has announced that standard roaming charges will return for customers travelling in EU countries from next year. This follows a similar announcement from EE in June and likely signals a wider return to mobile roaming charges in the EU.
Vodafone customers who sign up for a new contract or renew their existing one on or after 11 August 2021 face a £2 daily charge to access their UK allowance of data, minutes and texts.
From January 2022, new and upgrading customers will be subject to the new £2 daily charge to roam in 49 destinations. Existing customers whose contract runs out and do not choose to renew would not currently be subject to these changes.
Like EE, Vodafone is planning to keep free roaming in the Republic of Ireland, subject to the fair usage cap, which is 25GB and apples in all destinations.
To save on costs, customers can buy 'roaming passes', which give a discount if you buy multiple days in advance. Currently, Vodafone customers will be able to buy an 8 or 15-day pass for £8/£15 respectively, effectively dropping the cost to £1 per day. These passes will be more cost-effective if you plan to stay more than just a weekend.
Vodafone has said that the daily charge will apply to about 75% of plans, with the top 25% of plans including roaming as standard. New eligible plans will start from £18 per month and will apply from 11 August.
In addition, the access to your UK allowance abroad will run concurrently with your allowance when at home, so you will not eat into your home allowance when returning from holiday.
At the time of writing, it has not been said whether virtual networks which use Vodafone's network, such as Virgin Mobile and ASDA Mobile, will be affected by this announcement. However, it would make sense that this trickles down to Vodafone's virtual partners at some point, although nothing is currently confirmed.
However, customers of VOXI, which is owned by Vodafone, are not affected.
As this change does not impact existing customers immediately, options are slightly limited.
Like EE, Vodafone has said that the roaming charge will only apply to existing customers at the point of renewal. If you simply let your contract continue after it expires, you will not be subject to the new roaming fees, although it is unclear how long this will remain the case.
It's looking more and more likely that free roaming in the EU will become a thing of the past.
Three also announced that it is cutting its fair use limit while roaming from 20GB to 12GB per month.
With more providers likely to follow suit, it may be worth switching to a deal that currently offers EU roaming for free, or has a good travel package or low roaming fees . It's also a reason why rolling monthly Sim-only deals are so appealing - they give you the ability to change provider easily if you want to.
Sue Davies, Which? Head of Consumer Rights and Food Policy, said:
'It is extremely disappointing Vodafone is reintroducing roaming charges for those travelling in the EU - and that new and upgrading customers will face extra charges abroad for using mobile data, calls and texts that they have already paid for.
'As the UK continues to negotiate trade deals, it should take the opportunity to lower the cost of roaming for consumers travelling around the world. The UK and EU should also work to strike a deal on roaming charges to stop companies chipping away at the roaming benefits customers have become used to and to ensure the high charges people used to face do not return.'
Ultimately, it looks like checking the costs for roaming before you travel is becoming just as important for EU destinations as those further abroad. Roaming fees differ significantly between providers, so check the destination you're heading to before you go.
Some providers do allow you to use your UK bundle when roaming in the EU or other countries, but you could face further charges if you exceed your bundle, or if the country you're travelling to is not included in the list of destinations.