What is data roaming?
So what exactly is the difference between using your regular data and data roaming?
Data is used for everything that requires internet access, from Facebook and Snapchat to Google Maps. When you sign up for a mobile contract, or buy a Pay As You Go bundle, you'll receive a set amount of GB to use within your network's coverage area.
Roaming, in general, includes calls and texts too. Once you go outside of this coverage area (for example, when you leave the UK), data roaming will be enforced. If you try to use the internet, send texts or make calls, extra charges are likely to occur. You can, of course, switch off data roaming manually by heading to your smartphone's settings.
As of 15th June 2017 however, data roaming within the EU is free for all UK customers. You don't need to opt in - it'll work automatically and the data you use will be taken out of your regular allowance. There are a few differences between networks however, so be sure to check our blog on EU Roaming to find out more.
Roaming with UK Networks
Each UK network is different when it comes to roaming, charging various amounts per call, text and MB used.
Let's take a look at the options available with four major UK networks. (Please note, all rates are correct at the time of publishing, check with your network for up-to-date charges)
At O2, roaming in their Europe Zone will come at no extra charge. This includes texts, calls and data. However, if you go over your regular monthly limit, you can buy a Bolt On - just like you can in the UK. Prices are the same, with popular options including 500MB for £4.99 and 2GB costing £10.99.
If you don't use all your data within the EU, you can use it in the UK once you return.
As for roaming outside of the EU, standard roaming rates will apply. Depending on where you're travelling to, prices will vary. For example, if you're travelling to New Zealand, current standard rates are £2 per minute for making calls, £2 per minute for receiving calls and 50p per text message. Data, however, if available in your country, is always £7.20 per MB, with usage capped at 50MB for £40.
If you need more, you can use 200MB for £120 with O2's Data Abroad Bolt On.
Roaming charges for calls and texts can be found on EE's website. It's best to check here if you're off on your travels, so you can be aware of the most up to date prices.
As for data, EE offers add-ons so you can keep costs down. The EE Travel Data Pass gives customers 500MB of data to use per day, for a fixed price of £4.80 if you're in America and Canada, or £6 in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, India, China, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and UAE.
To activate, just text TRAVEL to 150. For every day that you use the internet, you'll be charged the above price. Only want data for one day? Opt-out by texting STOP TRAVEL to 150.
It's worth checking your existing plan, however, if you're with EE. If you're on the 4GEE Max plan, free EU Roaming also extends to North America, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.
All Pay Monthly Vodafone customers, new and existing, can take advantage of Vodafone Global Roaming. This enables you to use your regular plan (including minutes, texts and data) in 152 destinations, fuss-free.
There are 48 roam-free countries included in the plan, mainly those in Europe. The entire list can be found on Vodafone's website, but you won't be charged anything extra for using your smartphone abroad.
A further 104 roam-further countries are included with Vodafone Global Roaming. You'll be charged £6 a day to use your plan, and charges will only occur when you use your phone for calls, texts or data. Receiving calls and texts are always free.
If you're really travelling far, and your destination isn't included on the list of 152, Vodafone's standard roaming rates will apply. Again, it's best to check with Vodafone directly here, as prices can often change.
Want to roam on iD Mobile? There are 50 destinations included in iD Mobile's EU roaming plan, including France, Italy, Iceland and Norway. If the country you're travelling to is listed, you can use your regular monthly plan completely free of charge - you just need to head to the iD app or your online account and double check roaming is enabled.
If you're jetting off elsewhere, standard roaming rates apply. For example, 1MB in New Zealand will cost 30p, 1MB in China will cost £1.50 and in Barbados will cost £9.60 - it all depends where you go. You can discover more about iD Mobile's roaming rates here.
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