With EU roaming charges now banned, travelling through continental Europe is easier than ever… but what about the rest of the world?
UK networks are slowly opening up to the idea of international free roaming, which was spearheaded by Three and their ‘Feel At Home’ plan. All of this jargon can be pretty confusing, so we’ve put all the major networks against one another in a series of criteria to see which is the absolute best.
Number of Destinations
The network currently covers the most international destinations out of any, 60 to be exact, with others slowly following suit. EE has unveiled a similar scheme within their 4G Max plan which allows free roaming in the 53 destinations, though only 5 of them reside outside the EU. Vodafone has also got in on the game, offering free roaming in 50 destinations with select plans and 60 destinations for a daily fee. O2 currently offers EU roaming but hasn’t yet expanded internationally.
Winner: Three In terms of worldwide availability, Three is still winner hands-down.
Data and Fair Use
Roaming plans are still subject to lengthy terms and conditions, many of which limit actual use. Three limit roaming in all of their destinations to 12GB, no matter how much data your plan included. EE are a bit more generous at 15GB, while Vodafone don’t define a data cap at all. O2 also don’t include a data cap, though you will need to buy a bolt-on if you exceed 10GB.
Fair use policy is a bit more of a grey area and differs significantly between providers. EE allows you to roam up to 60 days in a 120 day period, Vodafone only allows 30 consecutive days. O2 are a little more lenient allowing 60 days in any four month period, while Three will allow up to 2 consecutive months in any 12 month period.
Winner: EE They offer not only the most data abroad but the more lenient fair use policy.
Exceeding the Limit
Thanks to the EU, travelers need not worry about getting charged for calls, texts and data within Europe unless they exceed their allowance. Once you go over that limit, things start to get complicated as charges vary quite significantly. Vodafone charges 55p for calls to the UK, while anymore data will be charged at £6.50 per 250mb. Texts to a UK mobile will cost 25p.
EE charges slightly less for calls at 50p, while texts to a UK mobile are also cheaper at 15p. For any extra data, users will need to buy a bolt-on starting at £4 for 500MB a day. In destinations outside the EU, things can get even more expensive.
O2 offers two different plans depending on the type of customer. Pay as you go users will spend 35p on calls to a UK mobile and 5-14p for texts depending on the plan. Pay monthly customers will pay slightly higher at 55p for calls and 15p for texts. Data is the same across both plans, with users needing to purchase an extra bolt-on. These start from £2 for 100mb.
Three is once again miles ahead in this category, with calls to UK costing just 3p, texts 2p and data 1p per extra MB.
Winner: Three A flat data fee with no unnecessary bolt-ons and the cheapest call/ text prices of all the major networks.