The most expensive mobile mistakes you could make on holiday

Mobile on holiday

Using your mobile phone on holiday technically got far less expensive in June this year, when the European Union banned roaming charges in Europe. However, there's still a risk you could return from your holiday to a mobile bill shock, unless you know exactly what has been banned - and avoid the most expensive mobile mistakes you can make on holiday.

SEE ALSO: End to additional roaming charges in Europe

See also: Debit and credit card charges cost UK holidaymakers more than £100m each year


The rules came in on 15 June this year, and were meant to bring an end to roaming charges in the EU, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. However, six pitfalls remain that are essential to be aware of - and avoid.

1. Confusion over where the rules apply
It's easy to get confused by whether your destination is included within the new rules or not - not least because some providers have voluntary extended the ban on roaming charges to all sorts of places - including Three which allows its customers to use their phone in 42 destinations without extra charges - including the US.

Before you travel, therefore, it's well worth contacting your provider to see whether you will be charged extra for calls, texts or data in your destination.

2. Voicemail retrieval
If you are travelling to an area that's not covered by the roaming ban, it makes sense to turn off your voicemail facility. Accessing voicemail can be far more expensive in some countries than receiving texts, so turn it off, and let people know before you go that if they want you, they'll need to send a text.

3. Data caps
If you're travelling in the areas covered by the scheme, you will be able to use your UK minutes and texts, but your phone company may impose a fair usage limit on data. If you exceed this limit, you'll be charged. It means that before you travel, particularly if you are on a competitive deal, it pays to check the 'fair use' policy.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis says that to calculate whether you are on the kind of cheap deal affected by the cap, then assuming you are on a SIM only deal you can divide your monthly price (excluding VAT) by your monthly data allowance, to work out a cost per GB. Then compare that to the wholesale rate of about £6.49. If you're on something significantly cheaper than this rate, you may be hit by a cap.

Another rough rule of thumb for calculating where your cap will be is to divide the cost of your monthly tariff (excluding VAT) by the wholesale rate (£6.49) and multiply by two. That will give you the number of GBs of allowance you may be capped at.

4. Keeping documents online
e2save mobile expert Andrew Cartledge highlights that many of us have fallen into the habit of keeping vital documents in our email accounts. In the UK, we can just flick through the confirmation emails for train tickets, hotel bookings and flights. Overseas, however, we'll be eating into data whenever we check in. It's therefore essential to save a copy of all your essential travel documents offline before you travel.

5. Forgetting maps
We have got so used to checking maps online - and using our phone as a satnav - that it's the sort of thing it's easy to forget about when we're travelling. If you cannot use data to access maps, make sure you pack details of key attractions you intend to visit, and either pack a map or get hold of one as soon as you arrive.

6. Accidentally updating apps
Cartledge warns that some apps can be particularly data hungry, so it's worth switching off smartphone updates that eat data in the background. It may also be a good idea to switch off data roaming and cellular data until you are connected to the wifi, or if you urgently need it.

If you think you're likely to fall into any of these traps - or you simply can't bring yourself to stay away from social media whenever you are away from a wifi connection, then it's well worth contacting your phone company and working out what add-ons you need to buy before you go - to avoid paying dearly for your mistakes.

6 PHOTOS
Most outrageous bill mistakes
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Most outrageous bill mistakes
Carol Sandford, 72, called 118 118 from her mobile phone unaware of the charges involved. Calls to the number cost £1.88 per call and there is also a £2.57 per minute charge from landlines. TalkTalk raises this to £5.68 for the first minute and £3.28 per minute after that. TalkTalk told Carol the charge £81.12 charge was correct but luckily 118 118 were kinder, offering to repay the charge in full. Read the full story here.
One Londoner was more than a little confused when his debit card was declined while he was trying to buy just six bottles of American craft beers. But he quickly realised that instead of the £22.30 he owed, he had been charged £223,000! It's thought he punched in the PIN number before the machine was ready and it added the numbers to the total. Luckily the 28-year-old saw the funny side and laughed the incident off. Read more on the story here.

Early Lewis from Detroit was amazed to find his water bill was almost 100 times as much as he was expecting. The bill claimed that Lewis had used 3,740 gallons of water in just one hour. Thankfully common sense prevailed and the Water and Sewage Department admitted it was a mistake and subsequently charged Lewis the $36 he should have been charged initially. Read more on this story here

George MacIntosh, 73, was charged a staggering £200 for premium-rate gambling texts he didn't intend to sign up for. Unfortunately this wasn't a scam but a legal service from a company called Zamano. It seems the retired vicar had accidentally signed up after responding to an initial text from the company. Read the full story here.
Philip Groves was amazed to receive a £1,411 bill from Vodafone last year for his 10-year-old daughter Trinity's phone. It turns out Trinity had watched 28 hours of instructional loom band videos on YouTube, assuming her phone was using wifi. But the wifi had cut out, leaving her phone using the data allowance at it's highest rate. Vodafone refused to cancel the bill and threatened legal action. Read more here
Daniel Pontin was in for quite a shock after opening a gas bill charging him £31,000 for a year's worth of gas in a one-bedroom home. Pontin claimed his meter was broken when he moved in and was initially charged £35 a month for six months before he stopped receiving bills. When the huge £31,000 estimated bill arrived Npower told Pontin to ignore it while they investigated. Read the full story here
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