Beware of the Holiday Phone Bill in Spending

Avoid being caught out by sneaky data roaming charges and high call rates on holiday.

No matter where you are travelling, if you go abroad you could be hit by an astronomical bill for using your phone the way you would at home. 

We spoke to David, 18, from Glasgow who had been charged £100 for his phone bill on his return from Paris.

David had turned on his data roaming for 48 hours straight and presumed the charge would be lower as he had an international roaming bundle in place. Stories like this are not unusual.

So what is data roaming and a data cap?

Modern phones and particularly smart phones rely on a constant stream of information and updates to keep your apps up to date. 

This technology helps us get directions, check our Facebook and update Twitter without a second thought in the UK, but when you go abroad you have to tell your phone to stop doing this by turning off the 3G or 4G (shown as 'Mobile Data' in the Mobile section of your settings on an iPhone) and data roaming capabilities, before you touch down in your destination. 

A data cap otherwise known as a bandwidth cap limits the transfer of data over a set amount of time, meaning you only pay a set amount and won’t be allowed to go over this. Again this on an individual network service provider basis and you must check if you have a data cap in place before you leave.

What to do before you go

The first thing you need to do before leaving the country is contact your phone company to enquire what their charges will be for your destination. 

You can find most of this information on your phone service provider’s website, but if you can’t see it online then a lot of companies have live chat functions or a number to phone to speak with a member of staff.

The top UK mobile network providers each offer a number of options to help you avoid hefty charges while abroad. Initially you should enquire how much each call, text or megabyte of data will cost you in your chosen destination. Once you know this information you can decide how much data, texts and calls you can afford to use.

If you plan on using your phone as much as you would at home then most network providers offer travel bundles. If your travel is within Europe some of these can be very reasonably priced from a couple of pounds a day upwards.

Wi-Fi is available in lot's of cafe's and tourist locations so always check if Wi-Fi is available for free before you use your pricey data.

Contact your service provider for more information on bundles, monthly costs and pay as you go prices, to figure out what the best option for you is. 

Beware when venturing out of Europe as data charges will make your eyes water. Some network providers can charge up to £8 per MB when you use your phone in region 3, for countries like USA, Australia and Mexico.

EU data roaming cap, how will it help you?

The EU has recently introduced a data roaming cap, meaning holiday-makers can’t be charged more than £43 of data for each billing period, when you’ve used data roaming in an EU country. 

But beware - popular holiday spots outside of the EU including Turkey and Cyprus do not have data caps and if you use your phone excessively you could be hit by a bank bursting bill.

Safe travelling, and remember if you want to Instagram those poolside snaps and make your friends jealous, check the cost before you login.