Roaming costs in popular holiday destinations could see travellers reaching their £40 usage cap in minutes, a snapshot investigation by Which? has found.
A Virgin Mobile customer in Dubai could be hit with a bill for £52.70 - the provider's monthly data cap - for taking a single photo if a phone is set to automatically upload new snaps to the cloud.
Similarly, uploading a single 5MB photo with Plusnet could mean instantly hitting the data cap of £40 in all 10 of the popular destinations featured in the survey - including the Australia, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and the US. BT Mobile customers could be similarly at risk of hitting their cap of £35 with a single photo.
With school holidays in full swing, it's important if you're going on holiday this summer that you're aware of the costs you can face.
Our investigation looked at the 10 of the most popular destinations this summer (based on data from Kayak and the Office for National Statistics) and the data roaming costs per megabyte (MB).
We then used reliable data estimates of popular holiday activities to work out the most expensive examples customers can face when roaming. It revealed some shocking examples of expensive data roaming costs.
Each of the 'big four' networks offers some kind of package designed to reduce your roaming costs. This is often the best way to avoid hidden charges, especially if you expect to use your phone a lot. Read the T&Cs carefully, as some exceptions might take you by surprise.
With such strict criteria it is easy to see how many people can be caught out, even when being cautious.
If you do need to use your phone on holiday and it costs you to roam, it's important to know roughly how much data you're using. The table below shows approximate data use for typical roaming activities.
Even if you're careful when using your phone abroad, an all-too-easy way to rack up an unexpectedly high bill is background data.
Your phone is constantly using data in the background to update apps, refresh social media, deliver notifications and synchronise your emails. And depending on how your phone is set up, it might well do this at the first available opportunity.
Arrive in a foreign country with data roaming turned on and you could get hit by a big charge almost straight away. Similarly, don't think you can just switch your data on for a very quick Google search without other activities costing you money in the background.
With many providers having a daily charge which can be triggered by any data usage, usually 1MB as a minimum, a lot of us can be stung by expensive charges without even taking our phone out of our pockets.