Mobile phone users travelling in Europe could still face unexpected charges despite new EU rules abolishing roaming rates from Thursday, consumer group Which? warns.

Differences between what mobile providers offer could result in unexpected charges even though changes to EU roaming charges may help holidaymakers to avoid sky-high bills.

New EU regulations mean anyone travelling to an EU member country will be able to use their mobile phone minutes, texts and data as if they were still in the UK – paying the same price to ‘roam like home’.

However, Which? research found that holidaymakers could still be hit with unexpected charges.

While mobile providers have informed customers about the new rules, Which? advised consumers to be aware that:

• Calls and texts sent from UK mobiles to the EU will still incur charges – for example, Which? found that calling Spain from the UK can cost between 9p (Giffgaff) to £1.50 (O2) per minute
• Exceeding agreed minutes, texts and data will still be charged in the EU as it would in the UK – and all mobile providers charge different rates
• Mobile providers include different countries in their roaming territories and this can vary depending on whether consumers are a pay as you go or paying monthly – for example, O2 pay as you go customers will continue to be hit with roaming charges in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Monaco and Switzerland whereas O2 pay monthly customers will not.

All mobile providers charge different rates when customers exceed their agreed usage. Although customers are notified when this happens, those who do this while in the EU could face charges ranging from 3p (Three) to 55p (Vodafone) per minute when calling a UK mobile phone. Text and data charges also vary between providers, according to Which?

Vodafone is the only mobile provider that includes Turkey in its roaming bundle. A phone call from Turkey to the UK on other mobile networks can cost between 69p per minute (Tesco mobile) to £1.65 (TalkTalk).

Which? is advising customers to check their tariffs with their provider and shop around for the best deal at the end of their contract.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said:
“Many will reap the benefits of these changes and will no longer be put off from making calls abroad.

“However, it is important that you take a close look at what is or isn’t included in your current mobile deal.

“Not knowing what’s included could lead to some surprising charges on your next bill.”