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Cheap Mobile and Data Roaming

Use your phone abroad for less, incl roam free trick

phone charges abroadIf you're not careful, you can rack up a bill of £100s or even £1,000s using your mobile abroad. Receiving a call can cost as much as £2.50/min, while in some places you'll pay £8/MB to surf the web - yet there are simple ways to slash the cost.

In many countries, there's an easy trick to get free roaming simply by swapping your Sim. Elsewhere, it may be best to keep your phone turned off or stick to free Wi-fi - but if that's not an option, we'll show you how to use your phone as cheaply as possible.

Quick tips to cut the cost of using your mobile abroad

Use your mobile abroad and you'll be "roaming". That's when you connect to an overseas network and calls are routed via that network provider instead of your home network, at a vastly increased cost.

It doesn't just happen abroad - you could be on the White Cliffs of Dover and connect to an overseas network without realising. A 10-minute call from your mobile could cost up to £1.66 when travelling in Europe or a whopping £25 outside Europe, while data costs are similarly inflated.

The cheapest way of using your phone abroad depends on which network you're with and where you're going - options include a trick to get free roaming in 18 countries, roaming add-ons for use within and outside Europe, and for frequent travellers, specialist local and global Sims. First, though, check these quick tips to keep your post-holiday bill to a minimum:

Switch off data roaming and use Wi-fi - for calls as well as web browsing

There are two ways to access the internet via your mobile while abroad. You can use your mobile's 3G or 4G signal, in which case you'll pay your mobile provider (a lot) for data usage. Or you can connect via Wi-fi, wirelessly hitching up to a local broadband connection.

If you can, it's best to switch off data roaming and rely on Wi-fi when you need it. It's usually faster and much cheaper - in fact, you can often find free Wi-fi hotspots in bars, hotels and cafes. Remember also that much of your phone's functionality doesn't rely on an internet connection at all - eg, if you want to use it for music, games, photos etc.

Wi-fi doesn't just offer a cheap way of browsing the web - you can use it for calls too. If you've got a smartphone and free internet access, download an "internet-to-phone" calling system like Skype* before you go. If the person you're calling also has Skype, you'll simply need to find a free Wi-fi spot to call for free.

Alternatively, Rebtel* allows anyone with web access to make cheap or even free calls via normal landlines or mobiles, meaning you can use a hotel room phone. For other apps and more tips, see our Free Web Calls guide.

Additional tips:

How to turn data roaming off on your phone

Turn off automatic app updates

Don't download attachments and manually retrieve emails

wifi abroad

Roaming rates are only capped in the EU - watch out for charges of up to £2.50/min further afield

If you're staying within Europe, the good news is that roaming there is now relatively cheap, thanks to EU caps on the maximum cost of calls, texts and data.

If you're roaming within the borders of the European Economic Area - which is comprised of all 28 EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (but not Switzerland) - you won't pay more than €0.19/min (16.6p) for outgoing calls, €0.05/min (4.4p) for incoming, €0.06 (5.2p) for texts and €0.20/MB (16.9p) for data. A full list of EU and EEA member states can be found on

Yet outside Europe costs can sky-rocket to £2.50/min and it can cost as much as an eye-watering £8/MB - that's what Orange charges in the US, for example. Given a 30min TV programme can be 500MB, that could potentially add up to an astronomical £4,000.

See what the major providers charge within and beyond the EU

When you're roaming you'll pay to receive calls, but not texts - so get friends back home to message you instead

If you use a UK number while abroad (including a local or global Sim with a UK number), it won't cost friends and family at home any more to call you. They'll be charged the standard domestic rate. However, you will pay to receive calls when you're roaming abroad, and although this is capped within Europe, it can cost as much as £2.50/min elsewhere.

You can avoid this by buying a local Sim card when you arrive at your destination, giving you a foreign phone number - but then those at home will be charged international rates for calling it. (If you do this, those calling you can use the International CallChecker to check their getting their best rate. Alternatively, get them to call your hotel room not your mobile.)

However it's free to receive texts anywhere worldwide, so ask friends to message you, not call. Then, as it can cost as much as £1/text to reply outside Europe, condense your reply (lrn 2 spk txt) and it's still relatively cheap. Don't go back and forth, though.

Alternatively, use your mobile as a pager - get people to text if they want to chat and then use a cheaper way to call back.

Beware voicemail - outside the EU you can be charged £1/min to receive them and another £1/min to listen

EU regulations mean your provider can't charge you when someone leaves you a voicemail if you're travelling within Europe. However you can be charged if you listen to a voicemail message - within Europe, it'll be capped at the usual call rate but speak to your provider before you go to see how much it'd be.

Outside Europe it can be much more expensive. Outrageously some networks - notably EE and Virgin Mobile - will actually charge you if someone leaves you a voicemail, whether you actually listen to it or not. Furthermore the amount you'll be charged is not capped so you could find yourself in a spot of bother if anyone decides to leave you a message.

If your network charges for this it's safest to disable voicemail for the duration of your trip. You should be able to do this by calling customer services. See our new Beat the Voicemail Roaming Trap guide for more information.

Beware watching TV, films or downloading music

This one's simple - never, ever use your network's 3G signal to download or stream films, TV or music when you're abroad. Doing so can use up huge chunks of data, potentially leaving you with a bill of £100s or even £1,000s when you return.

If you do have a Wi-fi connection, though, it's a different story - though if you're paying for it still beware of how much data you're downloading as charges can add up fast.

There's a €50 data roaming cap but add-ons often opt you out, so watch out

While roaming rates are only capped within Europe, thanks to EU regulations even if you're roaming OUTSIDE Europe, providers now have to cut you off when you've used €50 (around £49 including VAT) of data in a month (see the Data charges slashed MSE news story).

This can be a useful backstop given it's often unexpected data charges that result in massive post-holiday roaming bills - but there's a catch. If you sign up for a mobile provider's add-on package to cut costs, you may be automatically opted out of the EU €50 cut-off limit.

This means you'll have to monitor your data usage carefully, otherwise you could arrive home to a big bill.

Got a Kindle Keyboard? Pack it for free web access

If you've got an older model of the 3G Kindle Keyboard, don't forget to pack it before you go, as it offers free mobile internet access across most of Europe and other countries around the world (see coverage maps).

The idea is that while overseas you can download books or newspapers at no additional cost, even without a Wi-fi connection.

In the "experimental" option in the menu, however, there's also a web browser. It's black and white, and pretty basic. You can't watch videos or high-end graphical content, but for scanning info sites it's functional. It's also good for checking web-based email accounts like Gmail.

wifi abroad

Get special apps to compress the amount of data you use

The currently free app Onavo says it compresses data downloads for other apps like Facebook, so you can do more with your download limit. It works in 90 countries around the world, which will help minimise expensive roaming rates.

Onavo says it could reduce data usage by 80% and is totally secure as it doesn't store your data. It can't compress downloads for apps that stream content like the BBC iPlayer or YouTube, or VoIP apps like Skype. It's available for iPhones and Android. Onavo says it will start charging a subscription but it's free for now.

Alternatively, web browser Opera also offers a free data compression app for web surfing. The "Mini" mobile version of the browser is available for iPhones and Android phones.

iPhone users: update your software

wifi abroad

All iPhones have a function which allows you to switch off data roaming, which should mean no data charges when away.

However, complaints have flooded in from MoneySavers saying they have taken the necessary steps to disable roaming and have still been charged, so here's what you need to do:

  1. Ensure software is up-to-date. Plug your phone into iTunes and follow the on-screen prompts to download any software updates before you go.

  2. Check data roaming is off. Switch off data roaming BEFORE you leave the UK, and keep it off. While it is on, some apps trigger data downloading even when you're not browsing the web. You may also be downloading emails inadvertently. When you buy an iPhone, data roaming should be "off" by default. You can check by going to Settings > Mobile, and move the Data Roaming slider to "off".

Download maps before you go or use Wi-fi

Google Maps, available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, now allows you to store maps for offline use. Since data isn't required for the GPS function on a smartphone, this means you can navigate around the place you're visiting without paying roaming charges.

When you're connected to Wi-fi, open the app and search the area you want to save. Once it's on-screen click on the bar that has the place name you search for and then select the menu button in the top right hand corner. To save it select Save Offline Map. For more information see Google help.

Many travel apps work this way and some, such as Time Out's app, include reviews.

wifi abroad

Roam free in 18 countries incl the US, Australia, France, Spain & Italy

wifi abroad

When it comes to making roaming affordable, Three is leading the charge. Its Feel at Home* feature allows contract and pay-as-you-go users to use their normal allowance of minutes, texts and data abroad in 18 different countries exactly as they would in the UK - and if you're not already a Three customer, there's a trick to get this for free.

If you're heading to Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland or the US, this is an unbeatable way to use your mobile abroad. Here's how it works:

  • Any calls or texts to UK numbers and any data used comes from your allowance (though you'll be charged international rates for dialling foreign numbers, eg if you call the restaurant down the street from your hotel). Receiving calls and texts is also free.
  • Feel at Home should work automatically when you arrive in one of the 18 countries. You'll get a text confirming there's no extra cost for calls and texts to the UK, and another with international rates.
  • You can only use 3G data abroad, even if you get 'superfast' 4G in the UK.
  • 'All-you-can-eat' customers can use up to 25GB, 3,000 mins and 5,000 texts abroad - so your allowance isn't technically unlimited, though in practice it should be plenty.
  • Three's terms and conditions say you can't use your phone for tethering (in other words, use it as a portable hotspot to connect other devices to). However we have had people say it does work - we asked Three about this but it refused to be drawn on the consequences, only referring us to the out of allowance call charges if tethering takes you over the 25GB allowed if you have all-you-can-eat data.

Not on Three? Get a free Pay as You Go Sim

wifi abroad

Even if you're not a Three customer, you can grab its Feel at Home offer. Just order one of its free pay-as-you Sims to pop into your handset while you're away. Here's how:

  • Step 1: Order a free PAYG Sim from the Three website – it'll work in any unlocked 3G or 4G phone, and using it in the UK costs 3p per minute for calls, 2p per text and 1p per MB. You can also buy one in-store – it normally costs £1, but the fee's waived if you top up at the same time. You will need to top up with a minimum of £10.

  • Step 2: To use Feel at Home, you'll then need to use your credit to buy a Three add-on bundle of calls, texts and data. They cost from £5 to £25 – as an example, £20 will get you 300 minutes, 3,000 texts and all-you-can-eat data. To do this, log into your My 3 account, or call 333 using your new Sim.

  • Step 3. Feel at Home works automatically when you arrive in any of the 18 countries. You'll be able to use the allowance in your add-on the same way as in the UK.

To do this you might have to unlock your phone though - as some networks can take up to 10 days to do this make sure you leave plenty of time.

Quick questions

Is it free to unlock my phone?

Will I have a new number?

Add-ons to cut costs within Europe

Within Europe, roaming costs are capped, which means you won't have to pay more than 16.6p/min for outgoing calls, 4.4p/min for incoming, 5.2p for texts and 16.9p/MB for data (plus VAT on top). But that can still add up to a hefty bill, especially if you're used to unlimited allowances in the UK.

First check if the countries you're going to are part of Three's Feel at Home service. Within Europe, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Spain and Sweden are covered - if you're going to one of those destinations, you may be best off getting a Three Sim if you don't already have one.

Otherwise, if you're a monthly contract customer it's worth checking if you can get an overseas calls and texts or data add-on from your network. Here are the major mobile providers' offerings:


Pay £2/day for unltd texts and calls & from £3/day for 50MB/day

EE, Orange and T-Mobile*

EE, Orange and T-Mobile customers can pay £5/day to get two bundles covering calls, texts and data for while they are travelling in Europe.

  • Euro Talk and Text Unlimited* gives you unlimited calls and texts to European numbers while abroad in Europe for a flat rate of £2/day. Once you've opted in, the add-on applies automatically once you start using your phone in one of the available countries*. This bundle is not available on pay-as-you-go for Orange and T-Mobile customers.

  • Euro Roaming Data Add-on* customers who pay £3/day can get a 50MB daily allowance in the EU. Or you can get a higher allowance of 100MB for £5. This bundle is for both pay-as-you-go (except on Orange) and pay monthly customers.

How do I use it?
  • For the Text & Talk package, you'll only be charged for the days you make or receive calls or send a text. If you're planning on sending just a couple of texts or a quick call consider paying standard European rates as this may be cheaper.
  • With EE and T-Mobile, the data add-on can only be purchased while abroad – turn on data roaming and open your browser to get it. Once you've used the allowance in the bundle, you'll be given the option to buy another. If not, the internet will stop working.
  • The following countries aren't included: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus (North), Faroe Islands, Gaza Strip, Georgia, Israel, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, West Bank.
  • On EE and T-Mobile you can't use internet abroad without a bundle, so when it runs out you either have the option to buy another or stop using data altogether. On Orange, you'll automatically get more data.

£7.66 travel allowance for customers on older contracts


T-Mobile customers who joined or moved to a new contract between 1 February 2010 and 31 January 2012 get to choose one free "Booster" as part of their plan (data is not included). They can also access older Boosters no longer available on new contracts, such as the Euro Talk & Text Booster* which gives a travel allowance of £7.66 to use when travelling in Europe.

How does it work?
  • You can choose how you want to use the allowance but it could be spent on 20 minutes of call time, receiving up to 65 minutes of calls or sending up to 74 texts.
  • For shorter trips or when you think you'll be using your mobile more, the unlimited calls and texts bundle for £2/day detailed above is a better option - it's also the only bundle available to newer T-Mobile customers.

Pay £1.99/day for unlimited data and special calling rates

O2 Travel*

O2 pay-monthly customers paying £1.99 a day can get unlimited data in Europe with the O2 Travel* service. Pay-as-you-go customers receive 50MB per day. There are extra costs for calls and texts.

For making and receiving calls, you'll be charged a 50p/call connection fee. You can then talk for up to 60 mins per call. Texts cost 5p each.

Pay-as-you-go customers don't qualify for these calling rates. Calls cost 16p/min, receiving calls costs 4p/min and texts 5p each, plus you only get 50MB of data – if it runs out, you have to buy the add-on again to get more.

How do I use it?
  • Before travelling check you have O2 Travel* on your account by calling customer services. If not, text TRAVELON to 23336 (on pay monthly) or 21300 (on pay-as-you-go) to activate it.
  • Once activated, you'll only be charged on the days you use your phone. There's no charge for receiving texts.
  • A day is classified as midnight to 11.59pm, UK time.
  • If on pay-as-you-go and you reach the daily limit, the service will stop. If you want to use more you can reset your allowance for another £1.99 by texting MORETRAVEL to 21300 or wait for your allowance to be reset automatically at midnight.
  • The following countries aren't included: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gaza Strip, Georgia, Israel, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, West Bank.

Pay £3/day and use your UK price plan in Europe


Vodafone customers paying £3/day can use their UK price plan in Europe with the Vodafone EuroTraveller* add-on. You'll only be charged on the days you use your phone and you can receive calls for free.

If you're on a 4G contract and travelling in one of the eligible countries, you'll also get 4G when roaming if you pay for EuroTraveller.

For pay-as-you-go customers, the add-on's* slightly different - you pay £3/day to take your Big Value Bundle minutes and texts with you, and you get 100MB of data for each day you use your phone while away.

How do I use it?
  • To opt in to Vodafone EuroTraveller*, call 5555 or text ADD to 40506 from your Vodafone phone before you go.
  • A day is from is classified as midnight to 11.59pm, local time.
  • The following countries aren't included: Belarus, Gaza Strip, Georgia, Israel, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, West Bank.
  • EuroTraveller uses your UK price plan's inclusive allowances. If you exceed your inclusive UK allowances, you will be charged as if you are still at home.
  • By opting in to Vodafone EuroTraveller*, you'll automatically opt out of the monthly spend limit for internet in its Europe Zone.

Pay £5/day for unlimited EU data


If the country you're visiting is one of Three's Feel at Home destinations, you can use your UK minutes, texts and data allowance for free without having to buy a pass. If it's not or you need more, then the Euro Internet Pass* gives you unlimited access to mobile data for just £5/day.

How do I use it?
  • Buy the pass before you travel - or Three will send a text prompt to buy when you first turn on your phone in an EU country. To get it, visit the Three mobile site.
  • The add-on can't be used in a number of European countries - see the full list.
  • Standard EU roaming charges of 19.8p/MB apply if you don't buy a pass every day. Before your Euro Internet Pass expires, you'll receive a text with the option to buy another pass for the following day. You won't be charged after your pass expires until you re-purchase a pass or accept standard EU roaming charges.
  • You can't use it for video streaming or tethering, and streamed music may not play as well as in the UK. If you have an active Euro Internet Pass and you travel to a country where the pass isn't valid, you'll be charged for data at standard EU roaming rates.
  • Three allows you to have one of each add-on per month, which means you can't use the Euro Internet Pass alongside the International Saver, for example.

Add-ons to cut costs outside Europe

Outside the EEA it's a different story altogether. Providers can charge what they like for calls, texts and data, and other than the €50 (roughly £43) monthly limit on data charges, costs aren't capped (and if you take out an add-on, you may be opted out of this cap anyway).

Some providers charge as much as £3/min to make a call and £2.50/min to receive a call, and it's easy to rack up bills running into £100s.

Forumite shockedandstunned really suffered:

Just got my stepson's phone bill and it's over £4,500. He's been to Turkey for 2 weeks and left data roaming on/been on the internet, as it's all data charges. - shockedandstunned

The table below shows just how steep the cost of using data outside Europe can be:

Data roaming costs outside Europe compared (incl VAT)
EE1 O2 Orange Three T-Mobile1 Vodafone
US N/A £6/MB £8/MB Free N/A £3/MB for up to 5MB. then £15 for every 5MB after
India N/A £6/MB £8/MB £3/MB N/A £3/MB for up to 5MB. then £15 for every 5MB after
Turkey N/A £6/MB £8/MB £3/MB N/A 45.9p/MB


£6/MB £8/MB Free N/A £3/MB for up to 5MB. then £15 for every 5MB after
Cuba N/A N/A £8/MB N/A N/A £3/MB for up to 5MB. then £15 for every 5MB after
1 EE and T-Mobile customers can't use the internet on their phone abroad unless they buy a data add-on or Travel Booster. The company says this is to prevent users running up large bills. Table updated 28 July 2015.

How to cut the cost

The first thing to check is whether the country you're heading to is covered by Three's Feel at Home service.

Outside Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Macau, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and the US are covered - if you're going to one of those destinations, you may be best off getting a Three Sim if you don't already have one. (If you're heading to the States, also see our new US Roaming Tips guide).

Otherwise, if you're a monthly contract customer it's worth checking if you can get an overseas data bundle from your network. We list the major providers' offerings below - bear in mind though that even buying a bundle can work out extremely expensive (some cost a gargantuan £120) so you may be better off keeping your phone off or sticking to free Wi-fi.


Pay from £3/day for 20MB/day & £5/mth to cut call costs by 30%


Orange customers can use bundles to lower the costs of their calls in some countries outside Europe and there are a variety of options to add data to it.

  • Orange customers can pay £5.10/mth and cut the cost of worldwide calls, depending on the country they are visiting, by 30% with Orange World Traveller* - eg, the standard charge to make or receive a call in Australia is £1.20/min, but with World Traveller you'll pay 84p/min. You'll have to make or receive at least 15 mins of calls per month to justify paying for the package.

  • For pay monthly customers travelling outside Europe, Orange offers two Roaming Data Bundles*, starting at £3/day for 20MB depending on your exact destination. There's also a 100MB bundle available for £10/day, although none exist for pay-as-you-go customers.
How do I use it?
  • The World Traveller bundle is recurring, meaning it rolls on every month until you remove it. It's not available in every country, so check with Orange* first.
  • The data bundle activates when you use data abroad, so you'll only be charged the bundle fee each day you use data. Once you've used 20 times your bundle allowance in one day, you'll be charged up to a painful £8/MB depending on where you are.

Pay from £3/day for 20MB/day & from £6/mth for calls or texts


EE customers can buy varying packages of minutes and texts to make or receive calls anywhere in the world to or from the UK and add a data bundle on top.

  • Pay monthly and pay-as-you-go EE customers can sign up for a roaming data add-on* when travelling outside of Europe. Prices start from £3/day for 20MB, with larger allowances lasting up to seven days also available. Bundle costs may depend on the country you're visiting, so check with EE* before you go.

  • The cheapest text bundle starts at £6/month for 100 texts, or you can opt for 30 minutes for the same price. There are also more expensive bundles available, which can be found on the EE website*.

How do I use it?
  • The data add-ons can only be purchased while abroad - turn on data roaming and open your browser to purchase it.
  • Once you've used the allowance in the data bundle, you'll be given the option to buy another. If not, the internet will stop working.
  • The talk and text add-ons run on a monthly rolling contract, but if you activate it part way through your billing cycle you'll receive an adjusted add-on charge and allowance until your next cycle begins.

Pay from £3/day for 20MB/day


If you're on T-Mobile it's possible to buy one of its Internet Travel Boosters* for using data outside Europe. The smallest bundle starts at £3 for 20MB to use over 24 hours, and they run up to £40 for 500MB lasting a week.

The same service is also available on pay-as-you-go for the same price. Bundle costs may depend on the country you're visiting, so check with T-Mobile* before travelling.

How do I use it?
  • This service can only be purchased while abroad - turn on data roaming and open your browser to purchase.
  • Once you've used the allowance in the bundle, you'll be given the option to buy another. If not, the internet will stop working.

Pay £5/day for 25MB/day or to use your UK allowance


Vodafone customers have the option of paying £5/day to use their normal UK allowance (including data) while abroad or paying the same price to opt for a specific data bundle.

  • If you're travelling to one of the 26 selected countries, including Australia and the US, you can also opt for Vodafone's WorldTraveller* add-on. This costs £5 and lets you use your UK allowance of minutes, texts and data without any additional roaming fees. If your plan at home gives it, you'll also get 4G data if you're travelling in one of 58 eligible countries.

  • Vodafone's Data Traveller* add-on can be used outside Europe in any country in its Rest of World Zone 1, and gives 25MB/day for £5/day. The cut-off limit is £36.39/month (including VAT) – if you want more data, you'll have to arrange it with Vodafone.
How do I use it?
  • To get WorldTraveller, text ADD to 40508 from your mobile to opt in. See Vodafone* for more details. You'll be charged £5/day every time you use your phone, it's a good idea to do all your calls/texts/web surfing on one day, or limit it to just a few days of your trip, so you're not charged every day.
  • A day is from is classified as midnight to 11.59pm, local time.
  • Call 191 free from your Vodafone Mobile to opt in. Then, you'll only pay for the days you go online. Once you've used your allowance you'll pay standard data rates - £3/MB up to 5MB, then £15 for every 5MB thereafter.

Pay £120/month for 200MB


O2 offers a Data Abroad Bolt on* for pay monthly customers travelling out of Europe, which costs a whopping £120/month for 200MB. We don't recommend you sign up for this one.

How do I use it?
  • Opt-in to the Bolt On by logging into your My O2 account.
  • The standard data roaming rate outside Europe is £6/MB, which is what you'll pay after exceeding your allowance. O2 automatically caps your data usage at £40 per month while you're abroad.
  • If you exceed the allowance you'll be charged at its standard roaming rate of £6/MB, but O2 will cap your usage at 50MB (£40) per month. If you want to lift the limit you can do so by calling customer services, although this isn't recommended given the cost.
  • Only the Blackberry Data Roaming Bolt On is available for pay-as-you-go users, which costs £5/month for 10MB. This only gives email and messenger services on Blackberry devices.
Key points:

REMEMBER! Call up and cancel your package when you get home

Can you use these data add-ons with tablets?

Frequent traveller? Consider switching to a specialist Sim

If you're a frequent traveller, plan to use your phone a lot or are going away for a bit longer than usual, you may be better off getting a specialist Sim.

If you're not travelling to one of the countries covered by Three's Feel at Home service and can't rely on free Wi-fi, this may be the most cost-effective way to get online. But it can be a fiddly process, and there's no easy solution to finding the best deal. With most Sims, you'll also need an unlocked mobile (or mobile device).

There are three main options:

  1. A PAYG local Sim (bought on arrival). If you regularly visit the same country, the cheapest way to get online (if you don't have Wi-fi) is to buy a local Sim when you arrive at your destination. Though this is the very cheapest way, it is a bit of a faff, and you may prefer to have something set up before you go. More info.

  2. A pre-paid local Sim. For those who regularly visit one country or go for quite a while, the alternative (a lot less hassle) is to buy a local Sim for the country you're visiting before you go, and load it with credit. More info.

  3. A pre-paid global Sim. If you're travelling to multiple countries, a global Sim might be more suitable. More info.

If you're after a specialist Sim, you'll need to weigh up what's best for you. Think about the calls you are making - if they're mainly calls to the country you're in, a local Sim could be best, but then you'll have to pay international rates to phone home. Also bear in mind that it is likely to be easier to top up a global Sim online.

PAYG local Sims

Switch Sim For The Cheapest Deals

The cheapest option is to buy a Sim card when you arrive at your destination.

To get recommendations of PAYG overseas Sim cards, Wiki Resource is a good tool, although its accuracy depends on how up-to-date people have kept the info. Use the list on the left-hand side to pick a country, and it'll show you available PAYG data Sim options, where to buy them when you arrive and how to get connected once you get the Sim.

Alternatively if you're willing to do a little more legwork yourself, Wikipedia lists the mobile networks available in every country:

France | Spain | Germany | Poland | Greece | Turkey | Australia | USA.

There's also a useful list of overseas networks on PrepaidGSM.

Once you know which providers operate in the country you're travelling to, it's possible to compare deals on their sites before you go, and buy a PAYG Sim card when you get there.

Warning! In North and South America, you'll need a 'tri-band' phone in order for it to work there (elsewhere in the world, you only need a dual-band phone). While most modern smartphones are tri-band, always check whether your handset is compatible with local networks before purchasing a foreign Sim. For more info see Carphone Warehouse.

Pre-paid local Sims

This is a specific Sim card for the country you are going to, which gives you a new UK number to give out to friends and family, so they can call you while you're away, without it costing them. If you travel frequently, to a few different countries, it means buying a few Sims and giving out lots of different numbers.

To get recommendations of pre-paid overseas Sim cards, PrePaidGsm is a good tool, although its accuracy depends on how up-to-date people have kept the info. It lists countries by continent - simply click on one and it'll show you available pre-paid Sim options, any special rates and useful info like activation fees and card validity.

See our pre-paid local Sim top pick

Global Sims

Here you use a specialist multi-country Sim card. While not as cheap as a local card, you only need to buy it once, and keep the same UK number wherever you are, making it more convenient (see Cheap International Sims).

The cost of calls, texts and data is different depending on the country you're in, so always double-check the price first.

See our global Sim top picks

How to complain about your mobile provider

The mobile industry doesn't have the best customer service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include limited network coverage, slow data speeds, unexpected charges and more. It’s always worth trying to call your provider first, but if not then…

Free tool if you’re having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It’s totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with it to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will automatically escalate it to the free Ombudsman Services (or CISAS if you're complaining about EE or Virgin Mobile).

Important: if your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, then instead just let us know by emailing as that’s usually quicker.