What is a roaming charge

What is a roaming charge?

You may have read many stories about unwitting mobile phone users coming back from holiday to a very large unexpected bill. For a lot of people, the costs come directly out of their bank account each month, which can cause even more problems. It can be particularly worrying in the current economic climate, when we are trying to make our money stretch further, to find a much larger amount than usual has been taken out of our account for mobile phone usage. Mobile phone companies (like Mobi-data.co.uk, Orange and O2) are aware of this and offer excellent deals which you should contrast and compare.

For most of us there is a lot of planning that goes into our holiday. We want to find the right location, a decent resort and to go and buy our holiday clothes. The excitement builds up the nearer the day of departure comes. We might use websites like Tripadvisor to get the lowdown on potential holiday destinations or pricerunner.co.uk to find the best deal on swimwear. But how many of us put the same effort into finding out what our phone will cost us? It may not be as exciting as the rest of our preparation, but good planning can pay dividends and save us money.

When we use your mobile phone in the UK we will be charged the contractual rate specified by our network provider such as Vodafone. Network providers compete to entice customers with good rates. This means we will often be on a satisfactory rate that we are comfortable with. There are great deals to be had and many packages available to suit the different needs of customers, depending on the way we use our mobile phones. However, when going abroad with our phones, we should be vigilant. Costs can be vastly increased, as we will be ‘roaming’.

A roaming charge is an additional charge for using our mobile phone when abroad. We will be automatically connected to a foreign network rather than the network we use when at home. This network provider will typically charge us a lot more for using our mobile phone than our domestic network provider. This is where the costs can and do escalate.

These charges will apply when using our phone for calls, using the internet on our phone and for sending texts. Roaming charges will also apply whenever we download or update apps on your phone, as we are connecting to a network to do so. Many of us have apps on our mobile phones which automatically update every so often. This can mean a lot of data being downloaded, frequently for lengthy periods. All this costs money when it is done over a foreign network.

You should take note that there are a lot of changes going on in the mobile market and different authorities are getting involved in how roaming charges affect mobile users. The European Union, for instance, have capped charges and are to bring further legislation in which may ban roaming charges. Other companies are finding increasingly more inventive ways to get around roaming charges. Furthermore, there are ways for the mobile user abroad to operate their phones in a smarter way to minimise their costs. For the smart user with their finger on the pulse, using your phone abroad needn’t cost the earth.


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