Stark warning to UK travellers as EU roaming charges reach £1,000

Martin Lewis issues update on roaming charges

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Unwitting holidaymakers who relied on their phones to keep in touch, find places and use social media received hefty bills after their breaks this summer. These sums reached an eye-watering £1,000 for just one holiday for the most unfortunate, with the average of those polled into the hundreds of pounds.

Since Brexit, UK mobile phone providers are no longer obliged to provide free roaming around the European Union (EU), and most of the main networks have reintroduced charges while abroad.

So 35 per cent of Brits said in a survey last month they were charged extra for roaming while on holiday in the EU.

Almost one-quarter (23 per cent) were in the 25-34 age bracket, while 20 per cent were aged over 65.

The poll, commissioned by the Lebara Mobile network, found most Brits were stung by data charges in Spain, France and Greece, popular holiday destinations.

Mobile data is used to look at maps, use social media, send and receive messages on some occasions, stream music and videos among other functions.

The research comes as Brits are scrambling to go back abroad after years of travel restrictions imposed as a result of coronavirus.

And with the rising cost of living crisis continuing to bite, struggling Brits are cancelling mobile, internet, TV service contracts in order to pay other bills. 

Rajesh Dongre, Lebara UK managing director, said: “After two years of the pandemic, British families want to get away for a well-deserved holiday abroad, but the ongoing cost of living crisis is hitting everyone hard. In an overstretched travel budget, roaming charges to use your network abroad are a further dampener during these difficult times.”

Vodafone was the most used network to access the web by those surveyed, followed by Tesco Mobile, O2 and EE.

But Lebara, which partners networks and is available in various countries across the world, is now running SIM-only deals with Vodafone.

Mr Dongre continued: “Our mission is to help people save money on their mobile bills. Unlike many major network operators, we are not bringing back EU roaming charges, and those who travel to the EU on their holidays can use their phone as they would at home, at no extra cost. They can use all their data allowance available on the plan while roaming in EU — up to a max of 30GB.”

According to Ofcom’s July 2022 Communications Affordability Tracker, nine per cent of Brits said they had cancelled a telecommunications service due to affordability issues, up from just five per cent last year.

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