Brits facing roaming bill shock this summer – report

32 per cent of Brits are planning to use their mobiles abroad in the next 12 months, but confusion around roaming policies is leaving millions vulnerable to facing bill shock, according to new research from, the comparison and switching service. Uswitch commissioned Opinium to survey a sample of 2,000 UK adults from 9-13 June 2023.

With roaming policies differing dramatically across different destinations, providers and plans, holidaymakers face real uncertainty using mobiles abroad this summer. Uswitch estimates that Brits have had to fork out approximately £539m in unexpected roaming costs over the past 12 months alone (based on average/approximate payments ‘in unexpected roaming charges’ over the past 12 months of £9.80 per person.

The research found that only 17 per cent of Brits know that a compulsory £45 cap, imposed by the EU to protect consumers from unexpected roaming charges, has now expired.  

The removal of the £45 cap means there are virtually no guaranteed roaming protections left for consumers. While some networks, such as Sky Mobile, giffgaff, O2 and Three have kept this worldwide cap voluntarily, others, such as Tesco Mobile, have already scrapped it. 

Even where data roaming caps are still in place, it’s important to note these caps only cover data usage. Phone calls and texts are not included and can easily rack up extortionate bills. 

For example, Sky Mobile customers heading to the Maldives or Seychelles would have to pay £8.64 per minute for calls to local or UK mobiles and landline numbers.

And although many customers sign up to bolt-on services that make their UK allowance available abroad, these are typically limited to popular travel destinations. 

Those using mobile internet outside the EU, and other common holiday destinations, will often be prompted to purchase a data add-on on arrival. However, said Uswitch,. these regularly include miniscule data allowances for extortionate prices. For example, with EE, 50MB of data costs £65.32 in Costa Rica, Ghana, Vietnam and dozens of other destinations. 

“Anyone travelling abroad from the UK should be wary of potential shock costs, even if they think roaming is included in their tariff,” said Uswitch mobile expert, Rehan Ali. “These costs can sometimes be incredibly expensive, so it’s vital that customers research ahead of their trip and put measures in place to avoid a sky-high bill. 

“The safest option is to manually apply a monthly spending cap before travelling for each account that will be used abroad. This is particularly important for children and teenagers with access to a phone, as one in 10 parents say their kids have been responsible for an unexpected roaming bill.

“Given how confusing these policies and plans can be, the key piece of advice for anyone looking to enjoy some time abroad this summer is to thoroughly research your plan ahead of time and speak to your provider to avoid any nasty shocks.”