One damning report says vacationers pay for a day’s data but only get a minute’s worth
Vacationers are being warned of a common cell phone roaming mistake of paying too much for data.
Martin Lewis and his team at MoneySavingExpert have released a damning report suggesting people are paying for more than they are actually getting.
The UK’s largest consumer website is warning travelers not to get caught.
Here you can find out which roaming errors you need to watch out for and which networks currently do not charge roaming fees.
What is the data roaming error?
According to the report, some travelers pay for a day’s worth of data but only get a minute’s worth.
This is because the cellular networks define the term “tag” differently.
It costs customers of these operators £2 ‘daily’ to use their UK data plan in EU countries.
However, some do not get a full day’s worth.
Most companies state that you get 24 hours of data from first use, but EE defines a day’s use in the EU as any time up to 23:59 UK time. This is independent of the local time zone.
That means if you land in an EU country at 23:58 (GMT) and turn on your roaming, you’ll only get one minute of data.
You would then be charged again minutes later to cover your spending money for the next “day”.
For Vodafone customers, the same rule applies when traveling outside the EU, where using your UK data plan costs £6 a day.
Mr Lewis said the arrival text customers receive when entering their destination doesn’t explain it: “We need to ban a daily roaming charge for use ‘until 11:59pm’ without even mentioning in which time zone.
“Instead, we recommend that all providers define a roaming ‘day’ as a 24-hour period from first use, explain this clearly in the arrival text, and notify customers at least one hour before the end of the daily charges.”
Which mobile networks are free of roaming charges?
A number of mobile networks have not introduced EU roaming charges.
If you’re an avid traveler, it may be worth switching contracts.
You can’t switch until your current contract is up for renewal, otherwise you’ll face high fees.
Price comparison sites like MoneySupermarket and Uswitch save you time by helping you browse the best deals on the market.
There are currently five mobile networks that allow customers to use their British data volume in other EU countries free of charge.
BT Mobile and Plusnet
These two providers allow all customers to continue enjoying inclusive roaming when traveling in the EU and beyond. As part of their ‘Roam Like Home’ policy, both BT Mobile and Plusnet customers can use all their data abroad without incurring any international charges.
However, if you use all of your data allowance, you will be charged. BT Mobile customers pay 11p per MB and Plusnet customers pay 10p per MB.
All iD Mobile plans include EU roaming. With this feature, you can move around like you are at home in 50 destinations in the EU, the European Economic Area and beyond.
The minutes, texts and data you use simply come from your remaining monthly allowance. If you use all of your data allowance, you will be charged 10p per MB from that point on.
If you’re traveling within the EU with O2, your allowances will apply as in the UK. However, data usage within the EU is subject to a roaming limit.
If your monthly data allowance in the UK is more than 25GB, you have a 25GB roaming limit. This means you can use up to 25 GB of your quota at no additional cost.
You can still use data when you reach the roaming limit, but you’ll be charged £3.50 per GB for your ongoing use.
If your monthly data allowance in the UK is less than 25GB, you are not subject to the 25GB roaming limit.
However, if you use all your UK data abroad, you’ll need to buy a data ‘Bolt On’ if you want to continue roaming – prices for this start at £3.
Virgin Mobile offers a ‘Roam Like Home’ policy that allows customers to use their UK plan for minutes, texts and data in the EU just as you would in the UK.
If you use up all your data allowance, there will be an additional cost of £4.79 per GB.
Typically, you will receive an SMS once you reach 80% of your usage to let you know how close you are to the end.
Subject to the company’s fair usage limit, you can use up to 12GB of data each month from your monthly allowance when traveling in the EU. If you need more data, you can buy a data add-on.
You can spend between £1 and £14 to get up to 15GB of extra data to use abroad.