Best roaming plans: Which is the cheapest network?
The European Commission has announced that roaming data charges will be scrapped in its 28 member countries by 2017. Until then how can we stop paying high fees?
Travelling abroad and using your phone as normally used to mean a hefty bill on your return, but with all the networks now offering their own roaming incentives, uploading your holiday snaps to Facebook or Instagram as you go is much more justifiable than it has been in the past.
If you are lucky enough to travel a lot, here is a round up of what the different networks offer in terms of roaming and which one gives jet setters the best deal.
Vodafone has a few services under its belt for Pay Monthly customers including EuroTraveller and WorldTraveller both of which incur a flat daily rate.
The EuroTraveller covers Europe, as you might have guessed by the name, and it includes all the countries within Vodafone's Europe Zone, while WorldTraveller does the same for countries a little further afield such as the US and Australia.
You'll pay £3 a day for the EuroTraveller option and £5 a day for the WorldTraveller service, you'll get 4G speeds if you are on a Vodafone 4G contract and visiting one of the 40 specific countries.
The daily flat rate allows you to use your phone in any of the participating countries as you would in the UK, including calling, texting and data usage and you will only be charged on the days you use your phone. The day is calculated according to the capital city of the country you are in and it runs from midnight to midnight.
To see all the countries covered by Vodafone's EuroTraveller and WorldTraveller options, visit the Vodafone website.
Three takes it one step further than Vodafone in that it gives its Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go customers free roaming to countries covered by its Feel At Home incentive.
It doesn't matter what device you are using and like Vodafone, you can use your phone as you would in the UK but Three doesn't charge you anything for the privilege.
Sounds a little too good to be true right? Well it isn't as long as you are visiting one of the 18 participating countries so if Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland or the USA aren't on your holiday list, you may want to rethink.
There is one other snag, if you have All-You-Can-Eat data, texts and minutes then only up to 25GB, 5000 texts and 3000 minutes are included in the incentive for no extra charge but that's still quite a lot.
It's also worth noting that to benefit from Feel At Home, you need to have been a Three customer for more than 30 days and if you are a Pay As You Go customer, you need to convert your credit into an Add-on.
For more information, visit the Three website.
For those with O2, you can benefit from the O2 Travel add on, available to Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go customers, but it's for those travelling to Europe rather than further away.
For Pay Monthly customers, you'll get unlimited data for £1.99 a day and calls are charged a connection fee of 50p for making and receiving between the UK and European countries while every text you send will cost you 5p. After you have paid the call connection fee however, you can talk for up to 60 minutes without it costing you anymore and texts are free to receive.
For Pay As You Go customers, you will also be charged £1.99 for data with a limit of 50MB a day, while calls will cost 18p per minute to make, 4p a minute to receive and 5p a text message to send.
If you are going further afield than Europe, O2 also offer bolt-ons but it will cost you a little more than Vodafone and Three's options. You can find out more information on the O2 website.
EE also offers a range of add-ons that could help you save money while you are abroad, but while this network uses a similar format to Vodafone for roaming in the countries closer to home, worldwide is a little different.
When in Europe on EE, you can get unlimited calls and texts for £2 a day but unlike Vodafone, data isn't included and will cost you from £3 for a set amount. If you have an EE Extra plan however, you get inclusive minutes and texts in over 39 countries so you'll save on the £2 a day charge but you'll still need an add-on for data.
If you are going further afield then you'll need a different kind of add on. For example, if you were planning on flying to the States, you can opt for one of the Talk & Text add ons, such as '120 Roaming Minutes – Global', which will allow you to make or receive 120 minutes worth of calls anywhere in the world to the UK for £20 a month rolling contract, or £6 a month for 30 minutes.
Texts will cost you £6 a month rolling contract for 100 roaming texts, or £10 a month for 250 roaming texts and data costs from £3 for 20MB to use within 24 hours, up to £40 for 500MB to use over seven days.
EE's offers depend on which zone you are travelling in and for how long for so it is worth going on the EE website to work out your best option.
T-Mobile & Orange
Both T-Mobile and Orange offer the same service as EE when it comes to Europe, giving you inclusive minutes and texts for £2 a day, while staying online will cost you from £3 depending on the amount of data you select.
For worldwide travel, Orange Pay Monthly customers can add a Talk & Text bundle that will give you 30 per cent off all your calls and texts for £5.10, allowing you to make a call for 84p a minute and send a text for 35p when you're in the USA for example. You can also add 20MB of data for £3 a day or 100MB for £10 a day.
If you're with T-Mobile and travelling to America then there are no add ons for calls and texts but you can opt for the Zone A Internet Travel Booster 200MB or 500MB to use for seven days, which will cost you £20 or £40 respectively.
As with EE, it depends on which zone you are travelling in and how long for so visit the EE website for more information.
iD from Carphone Warehouse
The relatively new network from Carphone Warehouse aims to offer great deals to entice customers away from the traditional network offerings.
The iD network offers a comprehensive list of roaming costs on its site here. A taster of a few:
France - calls to UK at 18p per minute, texts at 5p and data at 19p per megabyte.
USA - calls to UK at £1.40 per minute, texts at 35p and data at 25p per megabyte.
Hong Kong - calls to UK at £2 per minute, texts at 50p and data at £1.25 per megabyte.