The EU's trumpeting that from today mobile charges within Europe will be capped. Yet they're still expensive, though there are tricks to limit costs.

Prices will be limited to €0.43/min (37p/min) to make calls, €0.19/min (16p/min) to receive them, though that's still £12 for a half-hour call.

Texts will cost no more than €0.11 (9p). Outside Europe, calls and texts costs are even higher.

Know when you're abroad

  • It's about the signal. It's not when you make a call, but the moment your mobile receives a foreign network's signal, that you're classed as abroad. From then, you pay to receive calls and are charged the overseas rate to make them.
  • Being in the UK doesn't mean you're home. Until the phone receives your UK network's signal again, you're 'abroad'. So return home with a switched-off mobile, and if someone leaves a voicemail, it's irrelevant that you're back. You're sometimes charged the overseas rate.

What to do

  • Text. Get friends to text you, as they're always free to receive. You pay more to text back from abroad, but it's still reasonable, if you keep it shrt wth txt spk.
  • Ask for cheap calls. Many networks offer cheap (sometimes free) 'roaming' packages, but only if you ask.
  • Get a free Vodafone sim. This summer only, Vodafone customers (who ask) for its free Passport option can call home from many European countries, plus Down Under, at UK rates. If you're not on Vodafone, just grab a free sim to use. Full Info: Vodafone home
  • Get a local/international sim. If you make lots of calls, either get a pre-pay sim while abroad to substantially cut costs, or get a special international sim. Full Info: Cheap Roaming
  • Use your phone's WiFi. If your phone is WiFi enabled, find a (free) WiFi connection, then websurf for free, or download Skype or Sipgate to it, and call home on it for pennies. The same's true of your laptop.

What NOT do to

  • Don't use voicemail. If someone calls your voicemail when you're abroad, you pay as if you'd received the call (up to £1/min), and then pay to listen back too. So ask your network to temporarily switch it off while you're away or, if you need it, record a short message saying: "Please text me instead."
  • Don’t turn 'emergency' mobiles on. Turn your mobile off in the UK, and take it abroad without turning it on (unless an emergency happens). That way your phone's still ‘at home’ for cost's sake.
  • Don't surf the web (unless via WiFi). Use the internet or download e-mails (on a mobile or 3G dongle) when abroad, and the cost is prohibitive. Horror stories of £1,000+ bills for watching YouTube clips abound. If you really want e-mails, set it to 'download headings only', which lets you see each subject line before downloading. This way, you won't pay £100s to download spam photos.
  • Don't call on the hotel phone. £5 a minute isn't uncommon. Though get people to call you on it, as that's usually free. Tell the person calling to use the CallChecker, so they can call for pennies.

Further reading/Key Link

Cheap overseas call cosats: Mobile roaming