More than a third of British people on holiday in popular European Union destinations are paying up to £1,000 for mobile roaming charges following the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc, the results of a new survey shows.
Due to the high cost of data while abroad, some unwitting holidaymakers who relied on their phones to keep in touch, find places and use social media were landed with shock bills when they returned home.
Since Brexit, UK mobile phone providers are no longer obligated to provide free roaming around the EU, and most of the main networks have reintroduced charges abroad. Despite the eye-watering rates, this has led to hefty bills for those unaware or who need to use mobile data in an EU country.
Holidays with hellish charges
A total of 35% of respondents to a OnePoll survey of 2,000 respondents carried out in early August and commissioned by the Lebara Mobile network said they had been charged extra for roaming while on holiday in the EU. The number of male and female participants was almost equal, at 47% and 53%, respectively, and almost one-quarter (23%) were in the 25-34 age bracket, followed by over 65s (20%) and those aged 35-44 (19%).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their traditional appeal, Spain, France, and Greece were the most popular destinations for Brits heading abroad and roaming. Germany, Italy, and Croatia were next on the list of where respondents holidayed, with the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, and Ireland rounding out the top 10 countries.
As for networks respondents used while abroad on holiday, Vodafone was the most used (22%), followed by Tesco Mobile (20%), O2 (14%) and EE (12%). Others included Virgin Mobile (11%) and 3 (8%), while some poll participants didn’t want to specify or couldn’t remember.
Social media leads data to use for Brits abroad
Even though survey respondents were on holiday overseas, they were still glued to their mobile screens, scrolling their social media feeds and perhaps updating their followers with envy snaps and videos of beaches and bars. Altogether, 44% of participants said they used mobile data roaming for this purpose, and an almost equal number (42%) used data for maps to find places.
Another 28% consumed mobile data for music streaming and 25% for video streaming platforms. Mobile games that use data were also popular among holidaymakers, with 20% of respondents saying that was their use of choice, and dating app usage came in at 16% of respondents.
Lebara UK managing director Rajesh Dongre said his company’s SIM-Only Deals allow people to ‘roam like home’ so they don’t incur extra charges abroad.
‘After two years of the pandemic, British families want to get away for a well-deserved holiday abroad, but the ongoing cost of living crisis is hitting everyone hard. In an overstretched travel budget, roaming charges to use your network abroad are a further dampener during these difficult times,’ he said.
‘At Lebara, our mission is to help people save money on mobile bills. Unlike many major network operators, we are not bringing back EU roaming charges, and those who travel to the EU on their holidays can use their phone as they would at home, at no extra cost. They can use all their data allowance available on the plan while roaming in EU up to 30GB.’
Lebara SIM Only plans run on the Vodafone network and start from just £5 a month for 3GB of data. Plans include 5G by default if you are on a compatible phone within a 5G network area. The brand is rated as Excellent on TrustPilot.