EE to bring back mobile roaming charges in Europe from January
EE is to start charging new and upgrading customers a flat £2/day roaming fee to use their monthly allowance in Europe from January 2022. The move makes it the first mobile firm to scrap free roaming in the EU following Brexit, while O2 and Three have separately announced plans to cut their 'fair use' limits for data roaming.
Mobile firms were banned from charging extra fees to use your UK allowance of minutes, texts and data (subject to a fair use cap) in Europe while the UK was still part of the EU. But now the post-Brexit transition is over, these rules now no longer apply. When we spoke to 10 of the biggest providers in May, all told us they had no plans to reintroduce charges, but EE has now broken ranks and become the first to reveal it will charge.
Commenting on the move on Twitter, MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis warned that other mobile providers "will likely follow":
For full help on how to use your phone overseas for less, see our Cheap Mobile and Data Roaming guide.
EE will introduce a £2/day fee for mobile roaming in Europe from January
EE's new £2/day flat fee will apply to any customers who sign up to a new contract or renew their existing one after 7 July 2021, unless they are on one of its specific roaming tariffs - 'Smart' and 'Full Works'. The new charge won't come into force until next January and you can continue to roam for free - subject to a fair usage policy of 50GB/mth - until then.
EE customers with an Essential plan can also choose to take out a 30-day 'Roam Abroad Pass' for £10, which will be cheaper than the new £2/day fee if you're going to Europe and plan to use your phone for more than five days. The provider blames the shake-up on a need to "support investment".
BT and Plusnet mobile customers, which are part of the same group as EE, are not affected and will be able to continue to roam in Europe for free.
Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (note that if you connect to a Turkish network in Northern Cyprus you will be charged higher roaming fees), Czech Republic, Canary Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana Guyana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal (including Madeira), Reunion Islands, Romania, San Marino, Saint Martin (France), Saint Barthelemy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including Canary Islands), Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City (Italy).
Currently with EE? You WON'T face roaming charges until you renew
If you're an existing EE customer, it's worth noting you won't face these new roaming charges if you simply do nothing - it's only those who sign up to a new EE deal or renew their contract from 7 July 2021 onwards who may have to pay.
So you don't need to take action immediately, but diarise to check what's best to do when your contract's term is up. If you're on a good deal currently and expect to be roaming a lot next year, it might be worth simply letting your contract roll on, but it's worth doing a full comparison with MSE's Cheap Mobile Finder tool to check. Of course, if you are considering switching to a rival firm remember it too may follow EE's lead in reintroducing roaming charges in due course.
O2 and Three are limiting their 'fair use' data caps
Separately, O2 and Three have announced changes to their 'fair use' policies which cap the amount of your UK data allowance you can use for free while roaming in Europe.
It's important to note though that this is very different to EE reintroducing roaming charges - mobile firms were allowed to set fair usage caps even when the EU ban on mobile roaming charges applied, and O2 and Three would have been able to make similar adjustments even pre-Brexit.
Here's what they're doing:
- O2's cutting its fair use limit from 2 August. If your UK monthly data allowance is over 25GB, you'll be given a fair use roaming limit of 25GB when in O2's 'Europe Zone' - previously there was no limit. If you've an unlimited plan, the current 25GB fair use limit will continue to apply. If your allowance is for less than 25GB, there's no limit.
- Three's cutting its fair use limit from 1 July. The fair use limit for data while in the EU will reduce from 20GB to 12GB per month.
While these changes will be a blow for a small number of very heavy users who spend a lot of time in the EU, for most it's unlikely to make much difference. In our most recent site poll, 78% of MSE users told us they use 3GB of data or less each month overall.
Elsewhere, BT Mobile, Giff Gaff, Plusnet, Sky Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone and Voxi have confirmed they have no plans to change their current mobile roaming policies - we've also put this question to other providers and we'll update this story when we know more.
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