Cheap mobile and data roaming

How to cut costs when using your phone on holiday

Whether you're a global jet-setter, or just like taking the odd holiday, this guide will show you how to use your mobile phone abroad as cheaply as possible (and how to avoid racking up a huge bill) – particularly important as some firms have recently changed how they charge for 'roaming' in Europe.

Going on holiday? Using your phone is a little different...

Using your phone abroad can be expensive and confusing, so before travelling it's important to understand your mobile plan and your provider's policy on roaming. Most UK mobile network providers only provide coverage when you're in the country, so when you go abroad your phone will also go 'roaming'.

Sign reading locations such as France, Morocco and Germany.

What is roaming?

'Roaming' is what it's called when your phone connects to a mobile network in another country. UK mobile network providers have agreements in place with providers in other countries, so that you don't lose connection when you go abroad. 

Previously, you could roam in Europe using your existing call, text and data allowances at no extra cost. But post-Brexit, three of the major providers (EE, Vodafone and Three) have re-introduced roaming charges.

If you're with a provider that charges for roaming in the country you're planning on taking a trip to, don't worry, we've got a whole host of tips to help you cut costs, whether you're heading to Europe or travelling further afield.

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Simple tips to keep roaming costs down

Whether you're going to Europe or further afield, we've got some simple tips to help you cut your mobile costs and avoid any nasty surprises when you get your post-holiday bill.

  • Most of the major networks (with the exception of O2) have reintroduced roaming charges for travel within Europe, so the easiest way to avoid charges while abroad is to simply turn roaming off. 

    Plus, if you're outside of your allowance or travelling outside of the European Union, costs can be eye-watering.

    Our phones will usually try to connect automatically to the nearest signal and this spells danger if you have automatic updates on, leaving you at risk of running up a huge bill without you even realising.

    • You'll find the option to turn off data roaming (but not calls and texts) in your mobile phone settings. 

      • If you use an iPhone, you'll find the option under 'mobile data' in your settings menu. You should be able to simply toggle the button to turn roaming off. 

      • If you use an Android, head to the settings menu, click 'connections', then 'mobile networks'. You can then tap the switch to turn data roaming on or off. 

      If you're unsure, the easiest way to avoid roaming charges is to put your phone into airplane mode. This stops you being able to send or receive texts, calls, or access the internet. 

  • Most mobile providers set a data spending cap by default – which will cut you off when you've used a certain amount to stop you racking up higher and higher bills.

    The exact amount varies by supplier, and it only applies to using data (connecting to the internet without using Wi-Fi). That means you could still run up high bills on calls and texts while abroad. For more info on each provider's cap, see our provider-by-provider breakdown on data roaming limits.

    Under previous EU regulation, providers were required to set an automatic spending cap of €50 (about £45) of data in a month, even if you were roaming outside of Europe. Post-Brexit this was written into UK law, with a monthly limit of £45. However, these laws are no longer in force, but most firms have retained similar protections (though this could always change). 

    If you want to be extra safe, you can set your own spending cap which means you won't be able to exceed that limit, so you can avoid any unexpected bills. This will cover costs incurred by data roaming, calls and texts. You can do this via your network's website or app, though if in doubt just call it and ask.

    Important: If you buy a roaming add-on it may opt you out of any spending cap you set yourself, or your provider's default cap. If you're unsure, check with your provider directly, as each will have slightly different terms and conditions.

  • Don't get caught out by your network's 'fair use' policy when roaming. Even if your provider allows you to use your allowance in Europe, most will still limit the amount you can actually use while abroad through a fair use policy – so you could find yourself running out of data quicker than usual.

    Mobile providers' data roaming limits

    Provider Fair use data cap (1) Fee if you exceed the data cap Default spend cap per billing period 
    Very restrictive 
    Asda Mobile 5GB 10p/MB (£102.40/GB)
    £40
    Giffgaff 5GB 10p/MB (£102.40/GB)
    £45

    Talkmobile

    If you joined on or after 14 March 2023

    5GB 0.6p/MB (£6.14/GB) £50
    Some restrictions 
    1pMobile 14GB 1p/MB (£10.24/GB)
    N/A
    BT Mobile 50GB 13.06p/MB (£133.73/GB) or 10.83p/MB (£110.90/GB) (8)
    £35
    EE 50GB 36p/MB (£3.69/GB)
    N/A (2)
    iD Mobile
    If you joined or upgraded after 20 June 2023
    30GB

    0.25p/MB (£2.56/GB)

    £3/GB

    £45
    Lebara 30GB 9p/MB (£92.16/GB)
    £25
    Lycamobile 12GB or your plan allowance (whichever is less). 
    35GB if you have unlimited data allowance.
    15p/MB (£153.60/GB) N/A
    O2 25GB £3.50/GB

    £43
    Plusnet 15GB 10p/MB (£102.40/GB)
    £10
    Smarty 12GB N/A (4) £45
    Superdrug Mobile 12GB N/A (4) £45
    Talkmobile
    If you joined before 14 March 2023
    15GB 0.6p/MB (£6.14/GB)
    £50
    Three 12GB 0.3p/MB (£3.07/GB) £54
    Vodafone 25GB £3.13/GB

    £39 (7)
    Voxi 20GB N/A (4) N/A (2) 
    No 'fair use' policy on data
    Ecotalk Your full UK allowance

    £102.40/GB £50
    iD Mobile
    If you joined or upgraded on or before 20 June 2023
    Your full UK allowance N/A £45
    Sky Mobile Your full UK allowance (5)
    N/A (5) £45
    Tesco Mobile Your full UK allowance £102.40/GB N/A (2)
    The Phone Co-op Your full UK allowance

    £51.20/GB N/A (2)
    Virgin Mobile Your full UK allowance

    £3/GB £52.50
    Zevvle Your full UK allowance

    N/A (6) N/A (2)

    Table correct as of January 2024. (1) Assumes occasional travel (holidays or short breaks) and not long stays abroad. Data allowance is based on countries included within each provider's 'Home from Home' policy. (2) No automatic spending cap, you'll need to set one yourself. (4) No extra costs, but you won't be able to use any data once you hit the cap, without buying an add-on. (5) If you run out of data while you’re away you can use data from your Sky Piggybank, add more data to your plan (Mix), or buy a 1GB data Add On. (6) If you run out of data while you're away, Zevvle don't have out-of-bundle charges. Instead, choose a 1GB (£5) or 3GB (£8) add-on that never expires. (7) Vodafone has a £250 data spend cap on its 'Rest of World' roaming. (8) 10.83p/MB in destinations listed as being in BT's 'Zone 1b'.

    • As most mobile providers will have a 'fair use' policy, which limits the amount of data you can use abroad, you won't always get your full allowance while roaming. Some providers, give you full access while others only let you use a proportion of it.

      Some very generous providers, like Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and Virgin Mobile, let you use any 'reasonable' amount of data whilst outside of the UK - irrelevant of your UK data allowance.

      Most mobile providers will notify you by text message when you're nearing 80% of your data limit, and again once you’ve reached 100%. It'll tell you how much you'll be charged for using data outside of your UK allowance.

  • The best bet is to use Wi-Fi wherever possible, which you can usually find for free in most hotels, restaurants and bars. Yet it 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 app such as Skype, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger before you go, or use Apple's FaceTime. Providing the person you're calling also has the service, you just need to find a free Wi-Fi spot to call for free.

  • Outrageously, if you're outside Europe, you can be charged simply for someone leaving you an answerphone message – even if you never hear it.

    It all depends on the network you're on and the country you're in. As an example, if you're with EE, it can cost as much as £3.11/min to receive a voicemail, and a further £3.11/min to listen to it. So picking up a one-minute message could cost you more than a fiver. 

    Ouch... so what can I do about it?

    First check whether your network charges for the country you're headed to. If it does, your best bet is to simply turn off your voicemail, to stop people being able to leave you a message in the first place.

    Each network has different instructions on how to do this, though you normally have to make a call, so try to make sure you do it before you travel (and certainly before you leave the UK).

  • Although finding free Wi-Fi while away is handy for browsing, you probably won't want to start downloading hefty files such as music or films. Instead, get your phone travel-ready by saving your favourite tunes, movies, must-have apps and boarding passes BEFORE you go.

    Download maps on Wi-Fi before you go

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

    For more information, see how to download Google Maps to use offline*. Many travel apps work this way. Check out how to turn your phone into a free worldwide sat-nav in our 65+ Travel tips guide.

    Alternatively, you can also take screenshots or normal photographs of maps to store on your device.

  • Here, quite simply, the same data rules don't apply. Even if you're setting sail in Europe, be extra careful when using your phone while at sea. It's easy to inadvertently connect to a 'maritime' network or a neighbouring country, which may be classed as outside of Europe and so be more costly.

    We've heard horror stories of travellers running up huge bills by doing this. To be safe, make use of any free Wi-Fi options on board, or just restrict use of your phone to days when you're back on dry land and always check the network your phone connects to.

Travelling within Europe? Roaming charges are back for many, but there are ways to beat 'em...

Previously, anyone could use their UK allowance of minutes, texts and data without paying any extra charges in one of 30 countries (subject to 'fair usage' limits), under the 'Roam Like At Home' rules introduced by the EU.

However, since Brexit, many firms have now brought back roaming fees in Europe, including major providers EE, Vodafone and Three. We've a full breakdown of what each firm is doing:

Roaming charges in Europe

Provider Extra charges Fair use data cap (1)
EE

£2.29/day (or £25/month) for contracts.

£2.50/day (£10 for 7 days) for pay-as-you-go.

50GB
O2 None 25GB
Three £2/day for contracts. None for pay-as-you-go.
If you need more than you UK data allowance, you can buy a Data Passport for £5 for unlimited data in 89 countries (valid until midnight after activating to a maximum of 24 hours).
12GB
Vodafone

£2.25/day (or £10 for 8 days or £15 for 15 days) for contracts.

From £7 for 8 days for pay-as-you-go.

25GB
Asda Mobile None
5GB
BT Mobile None
15GB
Giffgaff None 5GB
iD Mobile None 30GB (5)
Lebara None 30GB
Lycamobile None Depends on your plan
Plusnet None 15GB
Sky £2/day No set limit
Smarty None 12GB
Superdrug Mobile None 12GB
Talkmobile £2.25/day, £10 for 8 days, £15 for 15 days
15GB or 5GB (2)
Tesco Mobile None until 2025 (3) N/A
Virgin Mobile None Depends on your plan
Voxi £2.25 a day for 1 day, £4 for 2 days, £10 for 8 days, or £15 for 15 days (4)
20GB

Correct as of January 2024. (1) Most firms limit the amount of data you can use abroad – see all providers' fair use policies for full info. (2) The lower limit applies to customers who joined on or after 14 March 2023. (3) All Tesco pay-monthly and pay-as-you-go customers, including new customers, will be able to use their call, text and data allowances in 48 European destinations at no extra cost until 2025. (4) You must buy a roaming pass to use your allowance in Europe with Voxi. (5) If you joined or upgraded on or after 21 June 2023. Otherwise there's no set limit.

  • What counts as a day? It varies by firm

    Time periods passes are valid for can vary
    Network Time period (rest of world) 
    Vodafone Until 11.59pm on the day of first use (2) in the capital of the country you're in
    EE Until 11.59pm on the day of first use (UK time)
    Three 24 hours from first use (Data Passport valid until midnight after activating to a maximum of 24 hours).
    O2 (1) 24 hours from first use 
    Sky Mobile 24 hours from first use

    (1) For some on the old O2 system, it will be from midnight to 11.59pm based on the capital of the country you're in. We're trying to find out who specifically is affected by this. (2) 'First use' means making a call, sending a text or using mobile data. 

Action to tackle 'confusing' roaming policies welcomed by Martin Lewis after MSE campaign


Mobile providers will be forced to send mandatory roaming alerts to travellers under new plans outlined by telecoms regulator Ofcom in July 2023. MoneySavingExpert.com has repeatedly called for consumers' roaming rights to be increased after protections ended following Brexit – and we now want to see these new rules brought in as quickly as possible.
 

Read the full story on Ofcom's roaming proposals.

How to beat roaming charges in Europe

While roaming fees aren't huge, if your provider has brought them back, there are a few ways you can get around it.

eSim.
  • Don't want a new number? Try an international eSim. An eSim  ("embedded Sim") is a digital version of the plastic physical Sim cards we all have that control our call and data allowances. If you've got one of the latest iPhone, Google or Samsung smartphones, it's likely to be compatible with an eSim.

    An eSim plan for many destinations can be a lot cheaper than using your home network and buying roaming add-ons whilst abroad, as eSims work as if you were a local. You can buy and load one onto your phone before you leave the UK.

    But be aware, international eSims generally only give you data – so you can't make calls or texts, though you can make calls and send messages using internet-based apps, like WhatsApp, Skype and Facetime.

    As it's a digital Sim, it can be added to your phone alongside your UK Sim (whether physical or digital), so you can keep your same mobile number and get calls and texts as normal (though you may be charged pricey international rates to receive these). Then you can just use the prepaid eSim for data.

    There are plenty of providers online offering eSims for virtually every country, and you can get ones that cover multiple countries if you're off on a world tour. For an idea of how much they cost, we looked at buying at least 10GB of data in the US and India. See our full eSims guide for more info. 
Sign reading locations such as Brazil, Japan, Mexico and China.
  • Switch to a provider that still offers free roaming in Europe. While three of the big four firms have reintroduced charges for roaming in Europe, O2 and some smaller networks haven't yet. If you take out a new contract now, it's likely you'll keep the roaming benefits for the length of the contract, even if the firm introduces charges later.

    To find the cheapest deals, use our Cheap Mobile Finder tool. You can also bag the same signal you'd get with Three, Vodafone or EE by using a firm that piggybacks on their network.

  • Don't want to switch? Ensure you're on your provider's cheapest plan. If you're happy with your provider, and don't mind paying a bit extra to use your allowance in Europe, check how much yours charges in Europe. 

    Most charge around £2 per day, but if you're going away for longer, it can be cheaper to buy a bundle. For example, with Vodafone it's £10 for 8 days or £15 for 15 days. See our full firm-by-firm roaming charges list above.
  • Grab a separate Sim (with no contract) that allows roaming in Europe at no extra cost for less than a £2 a month. Some firms offer rolling one-month Sim contracts, which include European roaming at no extra cost, so you could grab one of these before you go, pay for one month to use the Sim while abroad, then cancel (remember to diarise cancelling it when you get home). 

    Some providers offer Sim-only deals for less than a quid a month. For example, right now you could get a Sim with 5GB of data for £1.90 a month for six months (rising to £4.90 after six months) from Lebara.

    And to be clear, this is about getting an additional Sim with a new number to pop in your phone to use for roaming abroad, not replacing your current one (though if you are paying more than £8 a month for a Sim-only plan, you could save by switching to one of these cheaper deals).

  • Use a Three pay-as-you-go Sim for roaming at no extra cost.  While Three has scrapped free roaming for pay-monthly customers, it still offers it on its pay-as-you-go Sims. While it's unlikely to beat a cheap rolling one-month Sim, it could still work out cheaper than paying daily rates some firms charge to use your allowance. Check out our tip to roam for no extra cost with Three in Europe and beyond.
  • Pick up a local prepaid Sim card at your destination for cheap data, local calls and texts. This is usually a cheap way of using your phone in one country. You can grab a cheap prepaid Sim card for a local mobile network in your destination. Getting a local Sim card might save you a few pounds, but you'll get a local number (so calling home might be pricey) and you'll need to swap it out for your current Sim. 
  • Does having a Sim-only deal stop me from roaming?

    Whether you have a Sim-only, pay-as-you-go or a pay-monthly contract with your phone provider, your ability to use your mobile phone abroad will largely depend on which network you're on and the type of phone you have.

    But generally speaking, when it comes to roaming, Sim-only tariffs work in exactly the same was as handset deals - but what will be different is the amount you're charged for data and calls when overseas - and this varies depending on your destination.

    You can check which mobile networks charge and how much, for roaming within Europe and further afield.

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Travelling outside of Europe? You'll usually pay MUCH more

Outside the EU, bundles are more expensive and some providers charge a gobsmacking £7 a megabyte for data and nearly £4 a minute to make or receive a call, so if you're not careful your mobile bill could set you back a lot.

If you're a pay-monthly customer, it's worth checking if you can get an overseas data bundle from your network, as these can often work out cheaper than its standard rates. We list the major providers' offerings below – bear in mind though that even buying an add-on data bundle can work out expensive (a two-week trip could set you back £80+), so it might just be better to keep your phone off or stick to free Wi-Fi.

You're charged for many of these add-ons on a recurring basis, so you'll continue to pay until you cancel. If you're only going away for a short time, remember to cancel once you get home.

How much does it cost to use my phone outside of Europe?

Provider Add-ons for international roaming
EE

For Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the USA, you can add the Roam Abroad pass which lets you use your UK allowance for an extra £25/mth on a rolling 30-day contract.

 

Alternatively, and for other destinations including China, India and South Africa, it offers the Travel Data pass – which gives 500MB for £6.26 to £7.84/day, depending on the destination.

O2 O2 offers O2 Travel*, giving you unlimited data, minutes and texts for an extra £6/day. It covers destinations including, Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and USA. O2 also has an O2 Travel Inclusive Zone for selected 'Plus Plan' customers, which allows you to roam at no extra cost in 75 destinations worldwide, including USA, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, Argentina and Australia.
Three Three charges £5 a day to use your UK allowance in it's 71 Go Roam (1) destinations, including the USA and New Zealand. Alternatively, you can get a Data Passport for £5 which gives you unlimited data in 89 countries (valid until midnight after activating to a maximum of 24 hours). Otherwise, you'll be charged its expensive standard roaming rates. Check how much your destination would cost before you travel and see which countries Data Passports are available.
Vodafone Vodafone offers Roam Further* – use your UK allowance in 105 destinations (link opens PDF) for an extra £6.85/day. (2)
BT Mobile For Andorra, Australia, Canada, China, India, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, UAE and USA you can get 500MB of data for £6 a day with a Travel Data Pass.
Lebara You can use your UK allowance for free in India (as well as Europe). To make calls, use data or send a text while outside the EU roaming countries and India, you can buy an 8 or 15 day roaming add-on for your selected country, but it's valid from the time you buy it so buy as close to your travel date as possible. you'll need to buy additional top-up credit and standard roaming charges will apply. Prices and allowances vary depending on country. Check how much it would cost for a Lebara roaming add-on. Alternatively, you can buy additional top-up credit and standard roaming charges will apply.
Sky For Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey, USA and the UAE, you can use your UK plan for a £2/day fee. You don't need to do anything to get this service. Find out more about the Roaming Passport Plus pass.
Voxi You can get an 8 day Global Roaming Extra add-on to use in 73 countries, including Australia, Canada, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand and USA. It costs £15 for 8 days (100 minutes, 100 texts, 2GB data) or £25 for 15 days (200 minutes, 200 texts, 4GB data).

Table correct as of January 2024. (1) Go Roam is available for free if you signed up before 1 October 2021 or are on one of its pay-as-you-go plans. (2) If you bought your phone before 11 August 2021 if £6/day.

How to beat roaming charges outside of Europe

Roaming charges outside of Europe can quickly rack up. Here's how to beat 'em.

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  • Trick to beat the roaming charges charges outside of Europe – roam in in 41 countries (plus Europe) for no extra charge. While Three has scrapped free roaming for pay-monthly customers, it still offers free roaming on its pay-as-you-go Sims. This means, even if you're not a Three customer, you can buy a pay-as-you-go Sim that lets you make calls and texts back home (or to other UK numbers), and use data in 71 destinations – 41 additional locations outside of Europe – including Australia and the USA.

    Grab one of its free pay-as-you-go Sims, top it up (you can get with 10GB, with unlimited calls and texts for £10, for example) and then pop it into your handset while you're away. You'll have to use the new number (and have an unlocked phone), and you need to activate it, top it up, and use it in the UK at least once first. You'll also need to use it once every six months to keep it active. Be aware, there's little point in paying for more than 12GB if it's solely for using abroad, as Three has a fair use policy which caps data roaming to 12GB a month.

    And to be clear, this is about getting an additional Sim just to use for roaming, not replacing your current one.
eSim.
  • Don't want a new number? Try an international eSim. An eSim  ("embedded Sim") is a digital version of the plastic physical Sim cards we all have that control our call and data allowances. If you've got one of the latest iPhone, Google or Samsung smartphones, it's likely to be compatible with an eSim.

    An eSim plan for many destinations can be a lot cheaper than using your home network and buying roaming add-ons whilst abroad, as eSims work as if you were a local. You can buy and load one onto your phone before you leave the UK.

    But be aware, international eSims generally only give you data – so you can't make calls or texts, though you can make calls and send messages using internet-based apps, like WhatsApp, Skype and Facetime.

    As it's a digital Sim, it can be added to your phone alongside your UK Sim (whether physical or digital), so you can keep your same mobile number and get calls and texts as normal (though you may be charged pricey international rates to receive these). Then you can just use the prepaid eSim for data.

    There are plenty of providers online offering eSims for virtually every country, and you can get ones that cover multiple countries if you're off on a world tour. For an idea of how much they cost, we looked at buying at least 10GB of data in the US and India. See our full eSims guide for more info. 

eSim costs for the US and India

eSim provider USA India
Airalo* $13 (£10) for 10 GB for 30 days $25 (£20) for 10 GB for 30 days
easySim £22 for 10 GB for 30 days £49 for 10 GB for 30 days
Holafly $64 (£50) for unlimited data for 30 days (1) $79 (£62) for unlimited data for 30 days (1)
Nomad £16 for 10 GB for 30 days £20.50 for 10 GB for 30 days

With the exception of easySim, these providers offer connectivity via a single provider. easySim offers a choice of multiple networks. (1) Holafly only offers unlimited data eSims for USA and India.

  • Get yourself a local prepaid Sim when you arrive for cheap data, local calls and texts. You can get usually get a cheap prepaid Sim card for a local mobile network once you arrive at your destination. But unlike an eSim, you'll get a physical Sim card, which you'll need to swap out with your UK Sim while you're away. Local Sims can be worthwhile if you're there for a longer period.
  • How to use an eSim

    eSims are really easy to use. Simply buy one online, choose a reputable provider and select your destination. Then you can choose the amount of data you want and how long you need it for. You should receive a QR code, which you scan to install the data plan on your smartphone and you're ready to roam.

    Make sure you set the eSim to be your default for data and switch off data roaming on your current Sim card, otherwise you risk being charged roaming fees by your UK network. And remember you can still make calls through apps that use data rather than a mobile network, such as WhatsApp and you shouldn't lose your chat history or contacts either.

  • What about global Sims? Are they worth it?

    A global Sim is a specialist multi-country Sim card, allowing you to makes calls and text, as well as use the internet in multiple countries, without the need to keep swapping your Sim card or repeatedly changing your number. They work by buying prepaid bundles or with pay-as-you-go credit. However, these can be incredibly expensive.

    A cheaper alternative is a global or regional eSim. These can be a good option if you're a frequent traveller to different countries, and you don't want the hassle of swapping in local Sims each time. You can order one online, and it's best to buy before you travel.

Spend a long time abroad? You could consider a local Sim

A local Sim is usually a physical Sim card that you buy at your destination to connect to a local mobile provider. You can typically buy them at the airport when you arrive or just in a shop, then swap it with your UK Sim and it'll give you a local phone number, enabling you to make very cheap local calls and use data, often for less than most UK providers' roaming charges.

But there are some drawbacks. Getting a local international phone number means you might be charged pricey rates to call home, and your friends and family back home may be charged to call you. If you're outside of Europe, you'll also be charged to receive calls from a UK number, and it can cost as much as £3 a minute.

Are local Sims worth it? 

If you're travelling within Europe and you'd have to pay a roaming fee, then a local Sim could be a good idea if you're going away for a long period, as charges can quickly build up. However, it's unlikely to beat switching to a firm with no roaming costs or picking up a second cheap rolling one-month contract that comes with inclusive roaming.

But if you're travelling outside of Europe, or going abroad for a longer period, you might be better off getting a local Sim to keep you connected – but it's usually best for data or local calls and texts, not if you want to call or message people back at home.

However, it's worth noting that finding the right local Sim can be a fiddly process, and there's no easy solution to finding the best deal. 

  • How to find cheap local Sims

    Wikipedia lists the mobile networks available in every country, which you can use as a starting point for comparing deals:

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

    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 pay-as-you-go Sim card when you get there. You'll also usually need an unlocked mobile (or mobile device). 

  • How do local Sims compare?

    We've a couple of comparisons in the table below to give you an idea of how much local sims cost. It's worth noting you'll get a different number to your UK one, which can be a hassle. Plus, the minutes and texts you get are usually limited to the country you're in, so it's best to use an app like WhatsApp to message or call home. As always, though, the cheapest option is just to use Wi-Fi in hotels or cafes if you can.

    Cost and allowances for local sims
    Country Local Sim (network) Using UK allowance for 30 days
    Spain €20 (£17) for 28 days for 50GB plus 300 local minutes (Vodafone)

    EE: £60, or £10 for a 30 day roaming pass if you are on an essential plan

     

    Vodafone: £30 for two 15-day passes

     

    Three: £60

     

    O2: No charge as it stands

    United States £23 for 30 days for 6GB plus unlimited local calls (AT&T)

    EE: £150.60 for 500Mb/day

     

    Vodafone: £180

     

    Three: £150

     

    O2: £149.70 (free for Plus Plan customers)

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