Vodafone has launched free roaming in 40 destinations for new and upgrading customers – but free roaming will be compulsory across the EU from 15 June anyway, so for most it won't be worth signing up to a new contract for.
Under its new 'Global Roaming' policy, customers taking out a new contract with Vodafone will be allowed to use their allowance of minutes, texts and data abroad in 40 countries in and around Europe, including some non-EU destinations such as Turkey and the Channel Islands.
However, all networks that operate within the EU will no longer be permitted to charge customers extra for mobile roaming services in any of the 28 EU countries from Thursday 15 June (this will be rolled out to non-EU countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway soon after) – and consumers WON'T have to take out new contracts to benefit from this.
Indeed, Vodafone states on its own website that all pay-monthly customers will benefit from its global roaming policy from Sunday 11 June (four days earlier than the enforced deadline).
Although Vodafone's offering extends beyond the compulsory 31 countries, consumers should consider their options before committing to a new contract – especially if you plan on primarily travelling to countries within Europe. There are also other options for those travelling beyond Europe. See the Cheap Mobile Roaming guide for full tips on using your phone abroad.
What if I'm going to Europe before 15 June?
From 15 June your UK network will not be allowed to charge you anything more than what you pay at home to use your phone abroad in the EU – ie, you'll be able to access your allowance at no extra charge.
Three has been running its 'Feel At Home' feature since 2013, which now allows customers on 'advanced' pay monthly contracts or with pay-as-you-go bundles to use their allowance abroad in 42 countries (including most of Europe) at no extra cost.
So if you're heading to Europe before 15 June and plan on using your mobile more than sparingly (and particularly for data), you may be better off picking up a Three pay-as-you-go Sim and topping it up with credit to purchase an add-on with. Add-ons start from £10 for 1GB, 100 minutes and 300 texts to use over 30 days.
Again, Three's Feel At Home offering may be a good option – it covers many more countries outside Europe, including the USA, Australia and Hong Kong (see a full list).
If you're headed to a country not on the list, or will be staying for a while (and expect to use a lot of data), you may be better off picking up a local Sim on arrival, or if you regularly travel to many different destinations, a prepaid global Sim.