Updated August 2022 including roaming charges and fair usage policies
As part of the ongoing service we offer to our customers, we are on hand to advise you of the best value data plans for use in the UK and abroad.
We have summarised the best plans, mainly for use abroad in an easy to understand table below. For more qualitative data, please see a more in-depth summary below – click the image to enlarge.
Network Operator: EE
EE tends to have superior coverage in the UK, this is especially true in Scotland and remote locations as their masts also serve the frontline ambulance 4G network. Consequently, their cost per GB can be a bit higher than other networks.
Consumer Contract Customers
They have started to charge new and existing customers a flat fee of £2/day to use their monthly allowance in Europe which will come into effect March 2022. If you have taken out a pay monthly handset or SIM contract after 7th July 2021 this applies to you unless stated otherwise. Consumer tariffs are now also limited to 50GB/month fair usage outside of the UK. It is worth noting that they also stipulate in the small print that you can be abroad for a period of 60 days in a period of 120 days.
To conclude you have three options:
Pay £2/day when outside of the UK
Some contracts have ‘Smart Benefits’ which can be changed each month. You should have ‘Roam Abroad’ option which negates the £2 charge. If you are on an ‘essential plan’ you can also take out a 30 day ‘Roam Abroad Pass’ for £10
You can purchase a £10 one off bolt on which negates the £2/day charge for 30 days but it still limited to your fair usage data.
EE Business Contract Customers
Motorhome WiFi are an EE Partner and so if you are staying within the UK and are looking for a consumer or business contract, we can arrange this for you with minimal fuss. Click here to apply.
As above, but with a 60GB EU Fair Usage.
EE Pay-As-You-Go Customers
If you have a PAYG SIM, you can purchase an addon which will allow you to access your pack allowance for £2/day. If you data allowance is greater than 25GB then a fair usage policy of 25GB will apply. Once this has been used, EE will notify you and surcharges will apply to continue using your data in Europe and World Zones. The prepaid 120GB SIM cards require activation in the UK before you travel abroad. You need to top up and keep a balance on the SIM if you wish to use it abroad.
Network Operator: Vodafone
Vodafone uses a long range, low frequency transmission for much of its rural coverage which means it sometimes gets into areas where others don’t.
Vodafone has already started charging new and upgrading customers £2/day to use their monthly allowance in Europe which came into effect 6th January 2022 – though some will be able to cut the cost to £1 a day by paying for a multi-day pass.
Vodafone’s new £2/day flat fee will apply to any customers who sign up to a new contract or renewed their existing contract on or after 11th August 2021, unless they opt for one of Vodafones pricier ‘4 Xtra’ tariffs, which include roaming. Customers will also have the option of buying longer ‘roaming passes’ letting them use their home allowance in Europe – an eight-day pass will cost £8, while a 15-day pass will cost £15.
It’s worth noting that all Vodafone contracts (new or renewed after 11th August 2021 have a fair usage policy of 25GB/month)
It’s worth checking when you took your contract out – click here to be taken to Vodafones website to see if roaming is included in your contract
PAYG Customers – Vodafone will also start to apply roaming charges from 8th June 2022 on all Pay As You Go SIM tariffs.
Pay-As-You-Go Customers – Voxi
Voxi is run by Vodafone and offer 30 day no contract PAYG plans. Voxi do not charge a daily rate to use data abroad but it does implement a fair usage policy of 20GB/month.
UPDATE MAY 2022: From 27th May you need to pay to access your 20GB fair usage data ranging from £2 – £15 depending on the trip duration
Network Operator: Three
In a suvrey carried our by Which and RootMetrics dated January 2022 their analysis of 4G coverage found that the download speeds offered by Three lag behind the speeds EE and Vodafone customers experience, although the overall performance was a closer contest.
For new customers and anyone who took a contract after 1st October 2021, Three is to start charging a roaming fee of £2/day to use monthly allowances in Europe from 23 May 2022.
If you’re on a good deal and will still be on it from May 23 2022, it may be worth simply letting your deal roll on. Three has confirmed you can do so and avoid these fees. But remember to check what’s best to do when your contract’s term is up.
All PAYG and Contract SIM cards have a fair usage policy of 12GB/month.
Pay-As-You-Go Customers – Smarty
Three certainly offer some of the cheapest unlimited UK contracts we have seen and their mobile virtual operator, Smarty certainly gives excellent value PAYG 30 day no contract plans.
Smarty has now launched a number of European add-ons and roaming passes that negate the 12GB fair usage policy.
You can now use your full data allowance with no restrictions by purchasing an ‘EU Data Pass’ for either 1 day or 3 days at a time. You will only be shown this pass if you have an activated data plan on your account of 30GB or more.
If you are on a lower data plan such as 12GB for example, you can purchase a ‘Data Add-On’ if more data is required when roaming.
The data add-ons never expire and there are 6 to choose from, all of which can be used abroad, over and above the 12GB fair usage limit.
O2 originally had the best GSM network for calls, but it does struggle for data coverage in rural locations. They’re the only network not to have an offering for 4G home routers and actively prohibit handset SIM’s being used in routers. Their PAYG MVNO is called GiffGaff.
If you have a contract with O2 you have access to 25GB/mth outside the UK as a fair usage policy and do not currently charge a daily fee for using this abroad. You can still use data if you reach the Roaming Limit, but you’ll be charged at £3.50/GB.
GiffGaff state they have a fair usage policy when roaming of 20GB/mth and suggest you ‘may’ be limited to this. You will also have to buy one of their goodybags when travelling abroad. Best to check their updated T&C’s for clarification as they are quite vague.
UPDATE June 2022: If you have taken out a new contract or renewed after June 16th 2022, you now have only 5GB fair usage (with a goodybag) and will be charged at 10p/MB over the 5Gb limit – valid from 9th August 2022.
Network Operator: Sky
Sky have not introduced any daily charges for 2022 when roaming. When you arrive in Europe, your roaming passport will be activated automatically and you will receive a text message with additional roaming charges if applicable. After hours of searching, we couldn’t find any information regarding fair usage limits when roaming so would advice to contact them directly for clarification before traveling.
UPDATE JULY 2022 – Customers will no longer be able to use ‘unlimited’ data from their piggybank when abroad without paying £2/day to access it.
Network Operator: Tesco Mobile
Tesco Mobile’s Home From Home allows you to use your data allowance abroad without a daily fee. They don’t specifically state anywhere on their website a fair usage roaming limit but they do have a fair usage policy document stating they will contact you if you overuse your data or stay in Europe for an ‘extended period’.
UPDATE June 2022: If you have taken out a new contract or renewed after June 16th 2022, you will now be be charged at 10p/MB over the fair usage limit (very vague but believe this to be 20GB) chargeable after 1st Jan 2023.
Network Operator: Superdrug Mobile
Superdrug Mobile has long been a favourite PAYG SIM for a large propertion of our existing customers for the past 24 months as they seemingly offered unlimited data outside of the UK for the same price as in the UK with no fair usage.
Unfortunately, this has now been stopped as we see them imposing fair usage limits in Europe.
Network Operator: Popit Mobile
Popit mobile allows you to use your full UK data plan abroad for up to 6mths, which gives you 4 further months over most other networks.
They explicitly mention that they do not charge extra for using your data abroad and offer 1GB, 3GB, 10GB, 30GB and 100GB/mth. They use EE as a network operator.
Tiekom is based in Spain and will send you a SIM (or multiple SIM’s) directly to the UK for €15 delivery cost (email them directly)
They offer 300GB of data per 30 days and can be used across the UK and Europe (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, United States of America, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Countries Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Romania, Sweden) with no additional roaming charges or data caps for €39.90/mth.
Network Operator: Lobster
Lobster is based in Spain and run on the Movistar network but is an all-English service with their website and customer services being aimed at us brits.
The Lobster SIM can be used across Spain, the UK, Denmark, Germany, Gibraltar, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and the United States.
No commitment or contract, pay every 28 days, and can cancel at any point. All plans include unlimited calls and texts so you can also use in a mobile phone. The following plans are available as at October 2022: