If you’re planning to take a break overseas, but want to use your smartphone while travelling, the worry is that you’ll return home to a nasty bill. This needn’t be the case though, thanks to the way roaming charges have changed in recent years. We take a look at how this works for customers who have a plan with EE.
What is roaming?
Roaming, in this context anyway, is when you use your phone outside the country in which you live, but still on your normal mobile provider’s network - ie O2, Vodafone, Three, EE, or their international partners. Traditionally this could be very expensive, so frequent travellers might invest in a spare handset specifically for those regions and local providers.
These days, most smartphones are able to work pretty much everywhere, and costs have been curtailed thanks to new legislation, dependant on where you’re travelling.
Setting up roaming on EE
Customers on either PAYG or monthly plans can use roaming on their handsets. Simply text ROAMING PASS to 150 and you’ll receive a text confirming that you’re good to go, or instructions on how to set up the free service.
How does roaming work for EE customers?
In the EU
Whilst the UK isn't technically in the EU anymore, the country is still going through a transition period, so fees work differently depending on when your plan started.
If your pay-monthly plan started before 7 July 2021, then you are free to use your normal monthly allocation of minutes, texts, and data anywhere in the EU without incurring any additional costs.
This is bolstered by the fact that a few non-EU countries are also allowed in the free roaming area; including Switzerland and Norway.
The EE website states the following;
“Customers can take their UK allowances to Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Canary Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guyana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, San Marino, Saint Martin (French), Saint Barthelemy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City (Italy)”
Turkey and Andorra remain outside of the free roaming area, so if either of those are your intended destination then you may want to invest in a Pay-As-You-Go SIM when you get there, or use local free WiFi connections to call home and stay in touch.
Read our How to make free phone calls in the UK and abroad guide for more details.
EE provides usage alerts, which should ensure that you don’t go over your allotted provision. The limit for EE data usage in the EU is 15GB, so even if your plan is in excess of that figure, you’ll be capped at 15GB.
It is possible to continue past this amount, but fees can be prohibitive if you do so. Calls within the EU cost 50p per minute, while numbers outside will set you back £1.20 per minute, but it remains free to receive them from anywhere.
Texts to numbers in the EU are charged at 15p each, or 50p each for those outside the Union. Use of data requires the purchasing of an additional Roam Abroad Pass.
If however you started your phone plan on or after 7 July 2021, then you will be charged a daily fee of £2 for using your phone in the European roaming zone. Fortunately, these costs won't come into effect until January 2022.
If you want to avoid this charge, you can purchase a Roam Abroad pass before you leave the UK, which can either be added by texting ROAMING PASS to 150, or by logging into your EE account and adding it as a Smart Benefit, if you have this included in your phone plan.
The Roam Abroad pass will allow you to use your plan's minutes, text and data allowances for £10 per month, which will be charged on your monthly bill. This can be cancelled at any time.
Outside the EU
If you have a 4GEE Max plan that you signed up for after 10 May 2017 then you can also use your monthly allowance of data, texts, and calls in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, and the USA.
If you don't then again you can get a Roam Abroad pass, which also covers the same five countries listed above.
If you have neither of these, then you'll have to pay for your data. 500MB a day will cost you £4.80 in Canada and the USA, £6 a day in countries such as Australia, China, India, and Turkey, and £6 a day for 150MB in a range of South America, Asian, and African countries.
To help work out any potential costs you’ll mount up while away, EE provides a roaming costs calculator, which we strongly advise you use.
It’s also wise to call EE well before you leave, to discuss any queries you may have and to see if there are deals available for holidaymakers.
The roaming page on EE is a useful resource, as it also features a live chat option, or you can ring 150 from your pay monthly phone for free, although PAYG costs 25p per minute.
Stick to your plan and you should have a fret-free break, be able to stay in touch, and not worry about what next month’s bill has to say.
If you also have a phone on the Three network, here's our guide to Three's roaming policy.