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New price cap on calls and texts to Europe kicks in today

The price of making an international call from the UK to another EU country will be capped at around 20p/min from today – but you're still likely to be able to save by calling via the internet.

According to the European Commission, the standard price of making a call between two EU countries is three times higher on average than the standard price of a domestic call, while standard text prices are twice as high.

But from today, EU consumers using their mobiles or landlines to call or text someone in another EU country will be charged a maximum of 19 cents per minute, or 6 cents per text message, plus VAT. This equates to around 20p/min and 6p/text.

The new rules are all about calling another EU country from your home country, eg, calling a friend in France from your UK home, and are separate to the roaming rules.

Roaming charges – when you use your phone while you're abroad – were scrapped in the EU in June 2017, meaning you can generally now use your phone as usual when you're travelling in Europe. See our Mobile Roaming guide for more.

How does the new price cap work?

From today, landline and mobile customers will pay a maximum of around 20p/minute to call other EU countries from home, and 6p/text. Premium rate numbers are not included.

It's worth noting if you call someone travelling in an EU country, but they have an international number, eg, a Canadian mobile number, the price caps will not apply. If you call a UK mobile that happens to be abroad in the EU, then normal UK prices apply, so it may just come out of your allowance.

There's no limit on the amount of calls you make, or the texts you send, and the price will be applied automatically.

The price cap is officially set in euros, and the exchange rate used to calculate the UK price is set by the European Central Bank. The price cap's value in pounds will be updated every May.

If you pay for a bundle which includes EU calls and minutes, the price cap won't apply – so you should always do the maths to check whether you're on the best deal.

How can I save on international calls?

Before paying for any calls to other EU countries, check if you can call for free using services such as Skype or FaceTime.

But if this isn't possible, there may still be cheaper options, such as using a VoIP provider.

If you regularly call EU countries from the UK, it's worth checking if it's cheaper to buy a monthly plan – the best deal for you will depend on where you're calling and how frequently you call.

Will the rules still apply post-Brexit?

Of course, these rules may change for consumers in the UK once we leave the EU.

Regulator Ofcom says if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, these rules will no longer apply and phone companies will decide what charges to apply to these calls and texts.

Check our Brexit need-to-knows for more info on what could happen to roaming costs and more.

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