YOUR mobile phone is a holiday essential if you want to keep in touch with friends and family and keep up with social media – but using it in some countries could cost you a fortune.
Research by Uswitch has revealed the most expensive countries in which to use your phone – and they could see you rack up a bill of £787 in just a week.
One in four holidaymakers have no idea how much they're being charged when they use their phone abroad.
There is a worldwide roaming data cap of £45, but that doesn't include calls and texts.
You could face up to £7.20 per MB on mobile data, £5 per minute to make calls and 60p to send texts in the most expensive countries.
It comes as a number of phone firms including giffgaff and Tesco Mobile start to bring back roaming charges after Brexit.
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But it's not just those heading to the continent who need to watch out for extra fees – according to Uswitch, the further afield you go, the pricier it is to use your phone.
Some of the most expensive places include:
- South Africa
- Saudi Arabia
- The UAE
All of these places cost £787 for a week's stay, according to Uswitch's research.
That's based on using 1GB of data, spending 20 minutes on a call or sending 10 texts.
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To compare, roaming fees for EU countries usually come to less than £14 for a week’s holiday.
O2 is one of the few providers that still doesn't charge extra for roaming.
Meanwhile, Vodafone has one of the better deals, charging customers a maximum price of £42 a week across EU and worldwide destinations.
How much is roaming elsewhere?
Uswitch has put together a Roaming Red List, which highlights the most costly hot spots for roaming around the world.
It found a handful of other places outside the EU can cost between £444 and £480 for seven days. These include:
Of course, it depends who your provider is, but your bill might not look dissimilar.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at Uswitch.com, said: "Millions of Brits will soon be enjoying a hard-earned holiday abroad but it’s important to remember that you’re now likely to face extra charges for using your phone.
"If you regularly travel abroad, it may be worth considering switching to a provider without EU roaming fees, or looking at a 30-day SIM-only deal to reduce your charges while you’re away."
Which other firms charge roaming fees?
A lot more phone providers are charging customers roaming fees now the UK has left the EU.
A couple more have recently joined the club, including giffgaff and Tesco Mobile.
Giffgaff customers have until August 9 to roam for free, after which usage is capped to only 5GB of data a month in the EU.
If you use any more, you'll be charged 10p per MB.
Giffgaff said: “We've taken the decision to mitigate some of that cost, so that we can at least give our members up to 5GB to roam in the EU, at no extra cost”.
It said 90% customers used less than that figure when roaming in the EU in 2019.
Tesco Mobile customers will also be facing a change.
From 2023, new customers on its Home From Home contract will not access free roaming.
Existing customers will still get this perk, but they won't be able to change phone or SIM card.
The roaming charges will be 10p a MB of data, 20p a text and 55p a minute for calls.
Others like EE, Vodafone and Three have had their roaming charges up and running for longer, and you can read more about them here.
How can I keep costs down?
There are plenty of tips to take note of if you're worried about roaming charges.
For example, when you go on holiday, make sure you download anything you want to use beforehand.
That way you can use your phone to power low-data apps while you're away and watch films or listen to music that's already installed on your device.
You don't want to waste 2GB of data streaming a movie – that could cost you hundreds of pounds.
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You should also think about using WiFi as much as you can – remember you can access the internet in most hotels and cafes and you can also use apps like Whatsapp to make calls without using your minutes.
And you can always keep flight mode on. Activating it on holiday, particularly in destinations with high fees on calls, texts and data, can remind you to watch your usage and save you from unexpected costs.
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