Bill limits for EU data roaming usage begins

How to keep phone costs low

warning text message

Now that data downloading has been capped and the cost per minute of calls within European countries limited, what more can be done to keep bill costs low?

Turn off data roaming. If you switch off the service on your phone which allows you to check e-mails or access websites when you are away from your home network, it will prevent you racking up big bills.

Consider buying a local Sim card. This can be even more useful when travelling outside Europe, although you will need to let people know your new, temporary number.

Consider texting. It can be cheaper and you can easily control the size of the text, rather than worrying about how many minutes you have been speaking for.

Call less.

Greater protection to prevent mobile phone and computer users from running up large data bills when overseas has come into force across the EU.

New rules mean that users will be automatically cut off when their monthly bill for using the internet abroad reaches 50 euros (£41), excluding VAT.

Customers will receive a warning when they have used 80% of this limit.

They can set their own monthly cut-off point by contacting their provider.

Accessing the internet via your mobile phone while abroad is called "data roaming".

'Bill shocks'

The move follows cases where people built up massive bills by watching videos or downloading music while abroad.

One German traveller faced a bill of 46,000 euros ($56,436; £37,593) for downloading a film while in France. A UK student was also reported to have received a bill for 9,000 euros ($11,031; £7,349) for one month while studying abroad.

"There will be no more bill shocks for tourists or business travellers surfing the internet with smart phones or laptops while in another EU country," said the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes.

Under the rules:

  • Operators must send details of data roaming charges to customers when they enter another EU country
  • A warning when 80% of the limit is used must be sent by text message, e-mail, or pop-up window on a computer
  • Customers should be cut off when they reach the agreed limit or the default maximum of 50 euros.

Holidaymakers travelling in the EU will also see a fall in the maximum tariff when making a call, from 43 cents (37p) a minute to 39 cents (33p).

The existing top limit of 19 cents (16p) a minute when receiving a call will also drop to 15 cents (13p).

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