Your Reading List & recommendations

Five ways to beat roaming charges

The good news is that paying more to use your phone in the EU is on the way out. The bad news is – not just yet. The European Parliament has voted to end roaming charges, so calls, texts and using your data allowance on the Continent should cost exactly the same as they do at home, but not until June 2017.

Still, it’s great news for business travellers, and even before the 2017 rules come into effect, roaming charges will drop significantly from 28 April 2016.

But you could still find yourself running up more of a bill than you’d like. Fortunately, there are ways to beat roaming charges and avoid that scary bill when you get home. To make sure you don’t break the bank while travelling for business, we’ve got you covered with these tips and tricks to keep you in control of your roaming costs.

  1. Turn off auto app updates and email push notifications

On most smartphones, apps can update in the background without your knowledge. This is handy when your apps are up to date whenever you check them, but this background activity could be eating into your data allowance without you realising, leaving you high and dry when you need it later on.

What to do: Turn off automatic app updates for your phone – check your phone settings or refer to the user manual to find out how. Also switch off email push notifications as well as video auto-play in apps like Facebook and Twitter. This way you can leave roaming switched on to use it when you need it.

  1. Check out your mobile operator’s roaming offers

Roaming costs may be dropping, but depending on your data plan you’re still likely to be charged for each megabyte you use. So even with a monthly cap on charges, you could end up with a bill that features more zeros than you expected.

What to do: If your network has one, opt for an all-inclusive package that lets you roam for a fixed daily fee. That way you’ll have a clearer idea of your limits and what you need. If you need more data, you should be able to extend your allowance – it’s probably only worth opting for standard rates if you don’t plan to use your phone much at all.

  1. Use a data counting app

The latest regulations mean that you’ll pay a lot less when you’re on your next business trip or holiday. But it’s not always easy to keep track of how much data you’re using and if you’re not careful you can still run up a sizeable bill.

What to do: To get more of an idea of how much data you’re using, check your phone’s built-in data settings or download a data counting app like My Data Manager.

  1. Use wifi, but don’t rely on it

Many of us have simply got used to relying on public wifi networks while we’re abroad. But this interrupts our workflow and means we’re intermittently out of touch – and that’s bad for business in a world where we’re expected to be online all the time.

What to do: An all-in data roaming package should cover your data needs for a fixed price, so you can use your phone as you would at home. It also means you can get online as soon as you touch down, and is a neat way to avoid the security risks associated with public wifi networks.

  1. Be extra careful if you’re roaming outside the EU

If you’re travelling outside the EU then the cheaper roaming regulations don’t apply. So if you allow your phone to use data outside Europe, you’re still likely to be hit with the same high-priced roaming charges we’ve been suffering for years.

What to do: Make sure you use an all-in data roaming plan with a fixed rate so you always know exactly what you’ll be charged wherever you happen to find yourself. Not all networks offer this kind of service for all zones around the globe, so make sure your plan supports the country you’re going to visit.

O2 Travel lets you use your phone in Europe as you do at home, so each day you can use data, make calls and send texts for just £1.66 (+VAT). Also, O2 Business’s Worldwide 24 hour data Bolt On gives you up to 200MB over 24 hours for just £7.50 virtually anywhere outside Europe. Heavy users can get the Worldwide data Bolt On for up to 2GB over 30 days, virtually anywhere in the world, including Europe. To find out more about our international data deals and find the one that’s right for you, just click here.

See more insights, products and services from O2 Business here.

For free, impartial business tech help and advice, why not book a session with an O2 Guru? They’re available online, in store and over the phone.

Book a session


All articles


Public sector

Safe & secure


Tech advice

Work smarter