Vodafone has confirmed it will ditch roaming charges for using your mobile abroad in 40 countries from 15 June – with the launch of a Brexit-friendly deal.
But there’s one major catch, the perk is only offered to new customers, or those upgrading an existing pay monthly contract.
The Roam Free deal from Vodafone launches just as new rules from the EU mean mobile users won’t have to hand over extra to their network for calls, texts and data use within Europe.
But when Britain leaves the EU, those rules will no longer apply and customers fear bills for using phones in Europe will rocket back up.
Use your mobile abroad for free: Vodafone won’t charge you extra in 40 holiday destinations
The Vodafone offer indicates protection against that, but rather than rewarding loyalty it is using it to tempt in new customers or get existing ones to upgrade.
Vodafone has extended its list of free-use regions to include non-EU holiday hotspots such as the Channel Islands, Switzerland and Turkey.
You can view a full map of free use destinations here.
Those heading further afield can pay £5 a day for unlimited use of their mobiles if travelling in one of the 60 additional destinations on Vodafone’s list, including far-away locations such as South Africa, Indonesia and New Zealand.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch, said: ‘With EU roaming charges due to be abolished for UK customers as of 15 June and with uncertainty over what Brexit will mean for roaming charges in the longer term, Vodafone is firing the starting gun ahead of time, keen to steal a march on its rivals and put their current customers at ease.
‘It’s also an interesting echo of when networks under public, regulatory and price pressure abandoned charging for texts which were a significant expense when mobile phones first shot to popularity in the late 1990s.
‘This will also affect the new VAT charge added to non-EU roaming as Vodafone is effectively cancelling the tax for its customers using data in countries such as Turkey, Switzerland and the Channel Islands. An impressive move – and one that raises the bar for other providers.’
|Albania (4G)||Estonia (4G)||Italy (inc Vatican City) (4G)||Portugal (incl. Madeira) (4G)|
|Austria (4G)||Finland (4G)||Latvia (4G)||Republic of Ireland (4G)|
|Belgium (4G)||France (4G)||Liechtenstein (4G)||Romania (4G)|
|Bosnia||French West Indies||Lithuania (4G)||San Marino (4G)|
|Bulgaria (4G)||Germany (4G)||Luxembourg (4G)||Slovakia (4G)|
|Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey) (4G)||Gibraltar||Malta||Slovenia (4G)|
|Croatia (4G)||Greece (4G)||Monaco (4G)||Spain (incl. Canary Islands) (4G)|
|Cyprus (4G)||Hungary (4G)||Netherlands (4G)||Sweden (4G)|
|Czech Republic (4G)||Iceland (4G)||Norway (4G)||Switzerland (4G)|
|Denmark (inc Faroe Islands) (4G)||Isle of Man (4G)||Poland (4G)||Turkey (4G)|
Surf the web: Until 15 June it will still cost up to 4p per MB within Europe
Is it worth switching?
Data from comparison site uSwitch suggests that around a quarter of bill payers have been met by a nasty surprise when they check their bill after returning home, handing over an average £52 extra to pay for roaming charges.
Network coverage, contract prices and calls, texts and data allowances should be your top consideration when hunting for a new mobile deal. However, frequent travellers might want to consider a provider with an attractive overseas option.
But remember, holidaymakers won’t pay any extra cash on top of their contract charges to use their mobile within Europe after June 15. If you are heading abroad before then you will pay extra.
Currently it costs up to 4p on top of your contract costs to make a call within Europe, an extra 1p to receive calls, 2p per text and 4p per MB of data you download. To put that into perspective a MB of data would be enough to browse the web for just four minutes.
Free Roam is only available on Vodafone’s new range of contracts.
This means existing customers will have to upgrade and therefore pay an early upgrade fee (typically the cost of the rest of the contract) unless you are on one of its Red or Red Value deals which allows you to switch 60 days early.
Standard Bundle customers are allowed to upgrade 30 days before the end of their contract.
There are however some networks which extend their fee-free areas further afield too (see below).
Vodafone isn’t the only network to have scrapped roaming fees
Three Mobile offers a similar feature called Feel at Home which won’t charge you extra to use your mobile in 42 countries.
It offers the feature to anyone on a pay-as-you-go or pay monthly contract, unless you are signed up to its Essential Plans where Feel At Home is not available.
These include places like the US, Australia and Hong Kong.
You could also consider iD, owned by the Carphone Warehouse, which piggy-backs off the Three Mobile network.
It offers a Takeaway plan which covers 29 countries including Australia, USA on top of popular European destinations. Check the list here.
Most other networks offer bolt-on deals you can activate while abroad which offer limited amounts of data, calls and texts for a flat-rate fee.
|Outgoing voice calls (per minute, excl. VAT)||domestic price + up to €0.05 (4p)||European roaming charges from June 15|
|Incoming voice calls (per minute, excl. VAT)||€0.01 (1p)||–|
|Outgoing texts (per text, excl. VAT)||domestic price + up to €0.02 (2p)||–|
|Online (data download, per MB*, excl. VAT)||domestic price + up to €0.05 (4p)||–|