O2 and Virgin Mobile pledge to keep free European roaming for mobile users
O2 and Virgin Mobile, now known as 'Virgin Media O2' since merging, have pledged to continue offering free mobile roaming in Europe. It means holidaying Brits can use their data, calls and texts as they would in the UK. It comes as other major providers announce plans to reintroduce roaming fees later this year.
Mobile phone firms were banned from charging customers extra fees to use their UK allowance of minutes, texts and data (subject to 'fair use' limits) when in the European Union. But this is no longer guaranteed as the Brexit transition period has now ended.
Major providers, including EE, Three and Vodafone, have all since confirmed plans to bring back roaming fees in Europe for new customers later this year (see below for more info).
But Virgin Media O2 has today reiterated that its mobile users will be able to keep roaming in Europe free of charge. The telecoms giant says it has no plans to reconsider this decision at a later date - although this doesn't guarantee it won't later change its mind.
Gareth Turpin, chief commercial officer for mobile at Virgin Media O2, said: "Unlike all the other major mobile networks that are bringing back roaming fees, we will not be following suit. With many Brits now looking to plan a trip abroad, we’ve got our customers covered and extra roaming charges will be one less thing to worry about."
See our Cheap Mobile and Data Roaming guide for more tips on cutting costs abroad.
EE, Three and Vodafone plan to reintroduce roaming fees later this year
Here's when major networks will begin charging European roaming fees again:
- EE will charge a £2/day roaming fee from 3 March 2022 for those who took out new contracts or recontracted after 6 July 2021.
- Three will charge £2/day from 23 May 2022 for users who took out new contracts or recontracted on or from 1 October.
- Vodafone will charge £2/day from 31 January 2022 for those who took out new contracts or recontracted on or after 11 August, unless you're on one of its 'Xtra' plans, which includes roaming as standard.
How to avoid European roaming charges
If you're a customer of EE, Three or Vodafone don't rush to upgrade or renew. If you haven't renewed or upgraded your contract before the set dates listed above by the three networks, you won't have to pay the roaming charges until your current contract has expired.
You can also consider switching to a network that still offers free European roaming, such as Virgin Media O2, as well as a number of other smaller providers - though just because they still offer free European roaming now doesn't mean they will always do so.
If you travel frequently it may be worth investing in a specialist local or global Sim. All you need is an unlocked mobile. For more info visit our Specialist Sims for Frequent Travellers guide.
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