Various SIM only plans are available for people who wish to use their mobile phone abroad without dealing with the hassle and confusion of trying to use a local SIM card. Local SIM cards often need a visit to the regional mobile operator’s shop to get connected which is difficult for a new visitor to find and time-consuming to set up when dealing with language difficulties.
Plus, busy holidaymakers rarely have the time or inclination to deal with the hassle and prefer using the roaming facility on a UK mobile provider or finding a global SIM option if they can. Here are a few SIM only options that are useful when travelling abroad and needing easy access to mobile communications while doing so.
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EU Roaming Charges
Fortunately for travellers in the EU region, there are capped rates in 28 EU member states. These include countries like Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The list of countries this applies to can be found here.
Outgoing calls can cost €0.19/min (16.6p), incoming calls can cost €0.05/min (4.4p), with SMS texts costing €0.06 (5.2p) and per megabyte costs of €0.20 (16.9p) for mobile data. Outside of these price controls, the charges can be as high as £2-3 per minute, with data usage becoming very expensive the more the internet is used while abroad.
Three Network with Feel At Home
One of the best SIM free deals when travelling abroad is the Roam Free option from the Three network. The Feel At Home plan includes 18 countries and not just in Europe. The plan includes European destinations like France, Finland, Norway, Italy and Spain, down under in Australia, Asian countries, including Indonesia, Macau and Hong Kong, and also the USA. Even Sri Lanka and Israel are included which is pretty unusual for an international-focused plan.
Both existing Three contract customers and Pay as You Go customers can take their allowance of minutes, SMS texts and mobile data and use them in any of the 18 countries included in the Feel At Home feature.
The way the plan works is that Three network customers in one of the 18 countries can call the UK and not pay more than they usually would within the UK. However, if they wish to call other countries, then different charges will apply. The customer will receive an SMS text message confirming the UK calling details and a second one to confirm the international usage cost while in the foreign country they’re located in.
Therefore, this plan is useful for existing Three customers who mostly wish to make it easy to keep in touch with friends and family back home while they’re away.
For travellers within European boundaries, which covers the majority of travellers from the UK, EE offers a Euro Talk and Text Unlimited option and a Euro Roaming Data add-on.
The Euro Talk and Text Unlimited gives customers the option to make unlimited calls and send SMS texts for £3 a day. There are slightly different plans available depending on whether the customer uses the EE, T-Mobile or Orange network.
The number of included countries is extensive with many popular ones like Cyprus, Spain, Romania, Jersey, Portugal, Iceland, Greece, France, Poland, and Sweden included.
There is also a Euro Roaming Data add-on for £3 per day, which bundles in 50 MB per day. Data costs beyond the daily limit will be expensive, so the customer would be best to use a data tracking app to reset their daily limit and ensure they do not exceed it.
EE also have other similar plans covering countries like Australia and the USA.
Customers with an O2 network connection may want to consider the O2 Travel service. It is an older option but still a valid one for Pay as You Go or monthly paying O2 customers.
Pay as You Go customers can use 50 MB per day while abroad. Calls are charged at 16 pence a minute to make them and 4 pence per minute to receive them. SMS texts are 5 pence each. The daily data allowance of 50 MB cannot be exceeded; the customer has to buy the pack again to get another 50 MB allowance on the same day if they truly need it.
Monthly paying customers with O2 can also be included in the O2 Travel service by opting to pay £1.99 per day for unlimited data within certain European countries. They get a better deal when it comes to calling costs. When placing calls or receiving calls, the only additional cost is the 50 pence connection charge. Each call can be up to a one hour duration. SMS texts can be sent for 5 pence.
The O2 Travel deal can be activated using text (TRAVELON to 23336 for monthly customers and to 21300 for Pay as You Go customers) or by contacting O2 customer services.
One quirk is that a single day is determined to end at midnight UK time, not local time when abroad. Something to bear in mind when adjusting to international time zones.
Most of the best deals for customers when travelling abroad seem to be with add ons or extras through their existing mobile carrier. It is possible to switch carriers just to get the benefits of an improved deal, but in many cases contract customers do better with the roaming upgrades so switching doesn’t work out too well.
Out of the deals listed, they each have their individual quirks, but perhaps EE has the best offering. The daily costs are not expensive, the list of included countries is extensive, and there are plans that include mobile data.