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Tens of thousands of Three customers to lose 'free' roaming abroad as they're 'forced' on to new contracts - here's all you need to know

Tens of thousands of Three mobile users are set to lose a perk that allows them to roam at no extra cost in 71 countries. can reveal that the mobile operator is 'forcing' certain customers to sign up to new plans, which means they'll lose their 'free' roaming benefit. It's a U-turn from Three, which had said it would keep inclusive roaming for those on older contracts.

Three has admitted that it is actively contacting many of its Sim-only and pay monthly out-of-contract customers to give them the following options - all of which result in users being placed on new terms and conditions where its 'Go Roam' perk isn't included:

  1. Choose to re-contract on to a 12-month or 24-month plan or any other plan Three offers.
  2. Do nothing and be auto-migrated on to a one-month rolling Sim plan.
  3. Or, choose to leave (requires 30 days notice).

The mobile network changed its terms and conditions in September last year, and now any new customer that signs up or renews their contract after 1 October 2021 will no longer be able to roam using their inclusive minutes, calls and texts via Go Roam. This means a £2 a day charge for roaming in Europe, or a £5 a day fee in certain destinations outside of Europe from 21 May 2022.

Three had previously told us those with pre-1 October 2021 contracts could stay with it once their deal had ended and keep Go Roam, but it appears some will now be unable to do so. Usually, we would usually welcome a campaign encouraging people to switch as it's likely they’re overpaying if out-of-contract, but frustrated customers have told us they're unhappy about the move.

According to Three, offering new contracts to customers is "unrelated" to the changes to its roaming pricing and is something it's done for a "number of years". Check out our Cheap mobile and data roaming guide if you need help using your phone abroad for less. 

'Three is forcing people to take new contracts'

An example of an email sent by Three to a user already on a one-month rolling Sim is shown below:

Three customers have also voiced their frustrations after receiving emails about the shake-up: 

One customer emailed: "I was somewhat surprised to receive an email dated 30 December 2021 to inform me that unless I chose to move to another tariff that Three would automatically move me to a new tariff effectively losing Go Roam by stealth." 

Another wrote: "It would appear that Three has changed its tune and is forcing existing contract holders to change contracts so that they have to abide by its new mobile roaming charges.

"I have an older email that says contracts before 1 October 2021, can remain on their existing contracts and won’t be subject to their new roaming charges. Can it do this?"

Unfortunately, Three's T&Cs do allow it to do this

Frustratingly for customers, Three is able to do this under the small print of its terms and conditions, which users agreed to when they signed up:

Section 4.2

We may change any of the terms of your agreement, including our Packages or prices, on the following basis:
(a) we'll let you know at least one month in advance if we decide to:
(i) discontinue your Package; or
(ii) make any changes to your agreement which are (in our reasonable opinion) likely to be of material detriment to you. You can end the agreement for such
changes as explained in Section 10;
(b) we may need to change or introduce new Charges in respect of our Outside of Allowance Services. If we do, we'll let you know at least one month in advance unless we believe such changes are not (in our reasonable opinion) likely to be of material detriment to you and you don't (in our reasonable opinion) regularly use the Outside of Allowance Services affected;

Section 4.4

If you carry on using Three Services after any change takes effect, you will be considered to have accepted the change, and won't be able to then end the agreement.

Your only option to stay with Three AND get free roaming is to opt for a pay-as-you-go Sim

Three has confirmed to us that those on its pay-as-you-go (PAYG) plans, including its optional PAYG 'Data Packs' (which are valid for one calendar month from the date of purchase), will continue to be able to access and use Go Roam as part of their deals. You can even get hold of a free PAYG Sim from Three* via its website. But, there are a few caveats:

  • You need to purchase a data bundle each time you want to use the PAYG Sim abroad. These start from £10 for 10GB of data and are valid for one calendar month from the date of purchase. This means you'd have to use your data for more than five days to make it cost effective in Europe compared to Three's £2 a day fee, and for more than two days in locations outside of Europe.

  • If you switch out your Sim with this one each time you go abroad, you'll have a different phone number, so be sure to let friends and family know beforehand.

  • Three requires you to use the Sim at least once within a 180-day rolling period. Failure to do so could result in Three deactivating the Sim completely.

If you don't want to stay with Three, there's a trick to switch but keep Three's signal 

Many of the big networks have confirmed that they'll reintroduce roaming charges, but the exception is O2, which announced recently that it won't reintroduce fees. Other smaller providers, which use the main networks' signal, are also yet to announce the return of roaming fees - including iD Mobile and Smarty, which both use Three's signal - though this could change in future. Use our Cheap Mobile Finder to find the right deal for you.

Alternatively, you could chose to turn roaming off completely once abroad to avoid being charged and make use of free Wi-Fi where possible. We've included some more tips on cutting costs in our Cheap mobile and data roaming guide

What does Three say?

A Three spokesperson told us: "Our recontracting programme has been in place for a number of years and is unrelated to the changes in our roaming pricing. We are clear in our terms and conditions that we sometimes contact customers outside of their minimum term in order to offer them our most up to date pricing."

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