Two of the UK’s four biggest networks – EE and Vodafone – are reintroducing roaming charges for customers travelling to Europe in January, with Three set to reintroduce them in May.
However, customers on both O2 and Virgin Mobile deals will maintain their inclusive roaming in the region, so they can travel and use their data, calls and texts just as they would in the UK.
Gareth Turpin, of Virgin Media O2, said: “We’re starting the year by giving our customers some certainty: we will not be reintroducing roaming fees in Europe for customers on O2 or Virgin Mobile.
“Unlike all the other major mobile networks who are bringing back roaming fees, we will not be following suit.
“With many Brits now looking to plan a trip abroad, we’ve got our customers covered and extra roaming charges will be one less thing to worry about.”
The firm said a family of four going abroad for two weeks could see an extra £100 on their bill, based on analysis of rates from other providers.
The return of roaming fees follows the UK’s departure from the EU, with the bloc having removed the charges for people moving around Europe in 2017.
Customers who joined or upgraded with EE after July 7 2021 face a £2 daily charge for using their data, making calls, or sending text messages in EU countries.
The same fee will apply to Vodafone customers who joined the network after August 11 2021, or upgraded or renewed their contract.
Three will bring in the £2 daily charge on May 23, applicable to customers who joined the network or upgraded after October 1 2021.
Both EE and Vodafone will offer alternatives to avoid the fee, with EE customers able to buy a 30-day Roam Abroad Pass for £10 and Vodafone users able to pay £1 a day for an eight or 15-day multipass.
Sue Davies, head of consumer protection policy at Which?, said: “After the disappointing news that EE and Vodafone are planning to reintroduce roaming charges in the coming months, it is reassuring that Virgin Media O2 is offering some certainty to customers on O2 or Virgin Mobile by not reintroducing roaming fees in Europe this year.
“As the UK continues to negotiate trade deals, it should take the opportunity to lower the cost of roaming for consumers travelling around the world.
“The UK and EU should also work to strike a deal on roaming charges to stop companies chipping away at the roaming benefits customers have become used to and to ensure the high charges people used to face do not return.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the news that both companies would not be bringing in charges tweeting: I welcome the decision by Virgin Media and O2 to keep roaming free, meaning UK citizens can still use their mobile data, calls and texts across Europe with no extra charges.”