Calling Spain from your mobile? It’s cheaper if you leave the UK

‘Bizarre’ quirk means making a call to the EU is most expensive from the UK, says


Cutting your costs, fighting your corner

For immediate release 15 JUNE 2017

Calling Spain from your mobile? It’s cheaper if you leave the UK

‘Bizarre’ quirk means making a call to the EU is most expensive from the UK, says

Calling a foreign number in the European Union from your mobile? Oddly it costs more if you do it from the UK than anywhere else in the EU under new roaming rules, which come into effect today.

The UK’s biggest consumer help site says that while new EU rules will abolish roaming charges for many, a quirk remains – it's cheaper to call other EU countries on your UK mobile once you're abroad, rather than do it from the UK.

Under the new European Commission ‘Roam Like At Home’ rules, you'll be able to call most landlines and mobiles within the EU for the same price you'd pay if you were in the UK calling a UK number. However, calls to EU countries from your UK mobile, while you're in the UK, aren't considered ‘roaming’ and will be charged by your network as an international phone call.

So, for example, if you're in Spain and make a call to a local Spanish number on your UK mobile, it will be cheaper than calling the same number from the UK. What's more, when in Spain (or anywhere else in the EU except the UK) it'll STILL be cheaper to call anywhere else in the EU than if you made those calls while in the UK. It's even cheaper to call the UK from Spain than calling Spain from the UK. founder Martin Lewis says: “There's a lot of confusion over the new roaming rules and what calls are included and aren't. This isn't surprising as in many ways they're counter-logical.

“After all, it's a bit bizarre that if you call to book a Spanish restaurant on your UK mobile from home before you jet off, you'll pay a whopping international call cost. But save making the booking call until you arrive in Spain, and it'd count as part of your free minutes.

“And it's even more bizarre that if you call your grandma in Poland on your UK mobile while in Spain, that's part of your free minutes too. Yet if you call her from the UK to tell her you've arrived back home safely, you'll likely pay expensive international call costs again. In fact, if you have lots of EU calls to make, it's cheaper to wait until you're abroad to do it.”

How do call costs from a UK mobile compare?

To highlight the discrepancy, here's a comparison of calls (we've used the UK, Spain and Poland, but it would apply to any EU countries):

Calls to EU countries from your UK mobile



UK to Spain

International rates – up to £1.50/min1

Spain to Spain

Part of UK allowance or normal PAYG rates

Spain to UK

Part of UK allowance or normal PAYG rates

Spain to Poland

Part of UK allowance or normal PAYG rates

UK to Poland

International rates – up to £1.50/min1

1) Using standard call rates from EE, O2, Three and Vodafone

The anomaly over call charges isn't the only thing to watch out for in the new regulations. revealed last month, the 'fair use' small print of the EU rules means some users on cheaper mobile deals could be charged extra fees to use their full UK data allowance (there are no extra charges for calls or texts).

The exact amount of your data allowance you can use before these extra charges kick in varies by provider, and can depend if you're on pay monthly or PAYG.

See our10 things you need to know about EU roamingfor more to watch out for, including a warning that the new rules may not apply onboard ferries or cruise ships.


Spokespeople are available for broadcast on request.

For more comments, please contact:

Katie Watts

Tel: 020 3846 2631

Mob: 07875 415 378

About Martin Lewis: Martin Lewis OBE, Money Saving Expert, is the journalist and consumer campaigner who created and is now the site’s Executive Chair. Martin also founded and chairs the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute charity.

He’s the UK’s most-googled man, Citizens Advice’s Consumer Champion of the Year, and has spearheaded major financial justice campaigns including bank charges reclaiming (over seven million template letters downloaded), PPI reclaiming (over six million) and a successful large-scale campaign to get financial education in schools. He has his own prime-time ITV programme, The Martin Lewis Money Show, as well as a range of other regular media slots. He was appointed OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2014.

About is dedicated to cutting consumers’ bills and fighting their corner. The free-to-use consumer finance help resource aims to show people how to save money on anything and everything, and campaigns for financial justice. It was set up in 2003 for just £100, and its free-to-use, ethical stance quickly made it the UK’s biggest independent money website, according to internet ranking site, and the number one ‘Business and Finance – Business Information’ site, according to Hitwise. It has more than 12 million people opted-in to receive the weekly MSE’s Money Tips email, and more than 16 million unique monthly site users who visit more than 28 million times a month. In September 2012, it joined the Group PLC.