All change for mobile roaming fees

Data roaming charges in Europe have been abolished, but will this just be a temporary reprieve for British holidaymakers?

Visitors to Europe this summer will be able to use their mobile phones without fear of huge bills after the European Union (EU) ended roaming charges.

Making calls, sending texts or using the internet will cost the same in any EU country after Brussels officials put a cap on the charges that phone operators charge each other when customers use their phones abroad.

But the boost from June 15 may only last two years as Britain is due to leave the EU in March 2019 and it is now up to the Government to replicate the EU agreement to ensure that customers continue to benefit.

Roaming confusion

Mobile phones have become an essential tool in the holiday process, with their use for e-tickets or e-receipts and accessing maps and other information.

A recent uSwitch study found that 91% of people take their phones on holiday, but that 85% aren’t sure of what they’re being charged for using it.

This confusion has led to some eye-watering bills for customers, particularly those travelling to the United States, where a single MB of data — enough for just four minutes of browsing — can cost up to £8.

Steeper charges

Many holidaymakers face even steeper charges in future after Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in March that he plans to add VAT to the cost of roaming in countries outside the EU, pushing bills up by 20%.

How Brexit will impact future data charges within the EU is still unclear, particularly as there’s the danger that they could also be liable to VAT after 2019.

And judging by the complaints of mobile phone users in Switzerland, a country not in the EU bloc, there could be a shock in store for British tourists.