Data roaming charges for UK travellers using their mobile phones or tablets in Europe have been lowered as of today.
Brits visiting EU countries will now never pay more than 15p per minute to make a call, 4p per minute to receive call, 7p to send a text message and 16p per MB of mobile data.
British holidaymakers have racked mobile roaming bills of of £394 million, with each bill averaging £55.59, according to research from price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com.
Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of UK travellers paid £50 or more on top of their usual monthly bill, while over a fifth (21 per cent) paid between £20 and £30 more than normal, and 19 per cent paid £30 to £40 more.
The European Parliament has voted to scrap EU roaming charges in late 2015, but this requires the approval of EU governments.
However, one in eight wrongly believe all roaming charges are due to be scrapped worldwide in 2015; while almost one in 10 incorrectly think roaming charges have already been scrapped completely in the EU.
Plus, almost three quarters of Brits have never checked with their networks to see if there are roaming bundles they can use abroad, while 18 per cent don’t switch off roaming settings on their handsets when going abroad.
41 per cent wrongly believe Switzerland is an EU country, while 38 per cent think Turkey is a member state. In fact, Brits heading to Turkey for a fortnight this summer could chalk up a £258 mobile phone bill just by making two five-minute calls, listening to a two-minute voicemail message, sending 10 text messages and using 10MB of data each day.
UK networks do automatically impose their own roaming caps of around £40 on their customers, but these can be opted out of usually by text message.
More than half (58 per cent) of Brits plan to take their mobile phones overseas within the EU this year, while 22 per cent plan to take their mobiles further afield.
Ernest Doku, technology expert at uSwitch.com, said: “Not knowing which countries are in the European Union could cause havoc for mobile users this summer as they could wrongly think they are protected from roaming charges in popular destinations like Turkey or Switzerland.
“Brits need to add ‘check roaming charges’ to their pre-holiday to do lists. Talking to your network before you jet off will very likely spare you a big bill later, as they may be able to advise a bundle, or at the very least let you how much it costs to use your phone abroad.
“Limit the damage by making the most of free Wi-Fi at hotels and cafés and keep data roaming switched off. Don’t be tempted to opt out of caps imposed by your network, however much you want to connect to the internet on the go. And, when it comes to calls and text messages, a great way to keep costs down to a minimum is to buy a local SIM card, put it in your phone and simply top it up.”
Image source: Shutterstock (young woman in hat with mobile phone at the beach)