Roaming Charges – Check Your Tariff! (Update)

roaming-tariffs-spainSince the EU introduced fixed tariffs for roaming charges, mobile companies have been very quick to invent “special offers” that sometimes charge their customers prices 40% above the EU fixed rates. Get out your last bill with roaming charges and take a look at the official rates below to see how much more you’re paying.

What Are The Current Roaming Tariffs?

From 1 July 2013, the EU imposes on all mobile operators the following maximum rates when making or receiving calls (or SMS) whilst in another EU country:

–        Make a call: 24 cents per minute (17% less than in 2012)

–        Receive a call: 7 cents per minute (12.5% less than in 2012)

–        Send an SMS: 8 cents per message (11% less than in 2012)

–        For each MB when using an internet connection: 45 cents (36% less than in 2012)

Note: All rates are subject to sales tax.

How Can Mobile Operators Offer Other Roaming Tariffs?

Mobile operators are allowed to create their own tariffs based on bundles: for example a fixed rate for X calls / minutes per month, 500 free SMS with a monthly tariff to use abroad and special internet connection packages. The problem is that these tariffs nearly always come at a higher cost for the customer. Studies have shown that for those who have a contract with a Spanish mobile operator, the cost to make roaming calls with a special tariff is slightly higher – 5.7% above the EU rate – but to receive calls some tariffs are up to 42% more expensive.

What Should I Do?

First of all check what your current contract includes for roaming charges (if you have one, many people only contract roaming packages when they travel). If you have a fixed monthly price for minutes it’s easy to compare with the EU rate to see whether it’s cost effective, with free SMS you’ll have to take into account whether the cost of the package really suits how you use your phone for messaging and whether you’ll be using internet-based instant messaging or not.

Remember to disconnect automatic app updates when travelling to avoid unexpected internet connection charges and do a bit of research before you travel to see what free WiFi spots are available where you’ll be visiting.

If your kids have phones, make sure their automatic updates are also disconnected and check any games and apps they normally use are not dependent upon an internet connection in order to avoid a nasty surprise on your next bill when you return home.

One additional problem is often faced by people who travel near to the Portuguese or French borders who sometimes get charged for roaming charges without having entered another country. If you’re faced with this problem, it’s generally difficult to prove to your mobile operator that you weren’t, in fact, abroad. We suggest you contact your local town hall consumer protection service for help and advice.

Related posts: Save on International Phone Calls