The cost of using your mobile in the European Economic Area (EEA) has fallen today, while Britons heading to Croatia will also benefit from new roaming caps as the country joins the EU.
The cost of using a phone abroad has traditionally been very high but the European Commission has been working to reduce it since 2007.
The following roaming caps (excluding VAT) come into force today in the EEA, which covers the 28 European Union (EU) member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (see our Mobile Roaming guide for tips on cutting costs):
- Data (to use the internet): €0.45 per megabyte (38p)
- Outgoing calls: €0.24/min (20p)
- Incoming calls: €0.07/min (6p)
- Texts: €0.08/text (7p)
It comes on the day Croatia joins the EU, which will be a welcome move for travellers to the popular holiday destination.
The new price cap on downloading data means looking at maps, checking emails and sending pictures while travelling in EEA countries will be 36% cheaper from today, and 91% cheaper compared with 2007's prices.
New roaming regulations also mean charges for making a phone call will drop by at least 17% per minute while receiving a call will drop by about 12% a minute. The cost of a text message will fall by 11%.
However, if you're travelling outside the EEA, beware hefty charges for using your mobile.
For example, Vodafone charges £1.65/minute to make a call from Morocco, while O2 customers receiving calls in Egypt are charged £1.25/minute. Sending a text from Cuba will set you back 50p with Three Mobile.
Meanwhile Three users in New Zealand and O2 mobile users in the USA are charged a whopping £6/megabyte for data – although all mobile operators have to apply a cut-off limit once you've used €50 (£43 – excluding VAT) of data per month, wherever you travel in the world, unless you choose to opt out.
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Future price cuts
Mobile roaming costs in the EEA will be reduced further from July 2014, although operators are free to offer cheaper rates. Some have already begun to remove roaming premiums altogether for calls and text messages, or are offering a roaming-free area across some sections of Europe.
Last month the European Commission also announced plans to create a single market for mobile costs in Europe. This would mean you'd pay the same to make a call, send a text or use the mobile internet across the EU as you do in the UK.
Similarly, residents of other EU countries would pay the same prices in the UK as they do at home (see the New plans to cut cost of using phones in Europe MSE News story).
Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes says: "The latest price cuts put more money in your pocket for summer, and are a critical step towards getting rid of these premiums once and for all."
EHIC now valid in Croatia
As well as benefiting from mobile roaming caps, travellers heading to Croatia will also now be able to use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) there, which entitles users to pay the same as a local for state-run hospital treatment or visiting a GP (see the Free EHIC guide for more information).
Additional reporting by the Press Association.