Are you heading abroad to catch some winter sun? If so, your mobile phone is one thing you don’t want to leave behind.

When you use your phone in a foreign country you leave your home network (such as BT Mobile in the UK) and use another network – which is called roaming.

Roaming charges apply when you use your phone to make calls, send texts and use data to do things like use Google Maps, check Facebook, watch YouTube and check email.

Following EU rules which came into effect on April 30, 2016, the price of using your phone abroad has dropped, but using a foreign network is still more expensive than using your phone at home.

Calls and texts won’t be included as part of your monthly tariff, and if you don’t keep an eye on how much data you’re using, you could have an unexpectedly high bill when you get home.

With BT Mobile there are ways to keep the cost down with a little preparation before you jet off, and by following a few simple tips while you’re away.

Before you go

Step 1: Check costs

Countries within the EU are split into zones, and prices vary depending which zone you are in. Check them out here.

For example, costs from France (Zone 1a)*

  • Making a call to the UK mobile and standard landlines: 4.3p a minute.
  • Making a call to the rest of the world and premium numbers: 140p a minute.
  • Receiving a call: 0.9p a minute.
  • Texts to UK mobiles and standard landlines: 1.7p.
  • Data used in zone: 4.3p Mb.

Calls to and from America, Asia and Australia are more expensive than if made within the EU. BT Mobile has a useful tool to work out how much it will cost to use your phone abroad.

Head to BT Mobile, click About BT Mobile in the top menu and What do calls cost.

BT Mobile check costs abroad

Click ‘International and roaming charges,’ then use the drop-down menu to select the country to view all calls, texts and data charges.

BT Mobile check international prices table

Step 2: Set a spend cap

BT Mobile caps spending at £35 on monthly data charges when you are abroad, so even if you do use more data than you plan, you know the maximum amount you will be charged.

Increase or decrease the cap by logging into

  • Scroll down and click the arrow next to ‘Tools to manage your spend’
  • Under ‘When you’re abroad’ use the sliders to Allow or Block calls to international numbers and general phone use.
  • Use the drop-down menu next to Data roaming cap to change the cap from £0 to £200.

BT Mobile set Data Roaming Cap

Step 3: Buy an add-on

BT Mobile customers can save money using data abroad by buying a roaming add-on. Available for trips to Europe and the US, these work out cheaper than standard roaming rates, so you can use your phone without worrying.

Add-ons come in two sizes:

100 MB - £4 20MB - £3
300 MB - £10 100MB - £15




Buy International add-ons

Money-saving tips for using your phone abroad

Step 1: Turn data roaming off

The simplest way to avoid an unexpected bill is to turn data roaming off.

Apple: Turn off data in the Settings menu, find out how.

Android:  Go to Settings Data and turn the Mobile data switch Off. Android phone interfaces can vary between manufacturers so instructions may differ slightly.

Visit to find out how to turn off data roaming on your phone.

Step 2: Download before you go

Think about what you might use your phone for on holiday and download things like music, podcasts and iPlayer programs using your home wi-fi.

Here WeGo (Android, Apple) is a free navigation app with turn-by-turn instructions that works offline. Download the corresponding country and use it for directions without using mobile data .

Here We Go app screenshot

TripAdvisor (Android, Apple) lets you download city guides to use offline.

If you’ve installed apps for your children, give them a test run before you leave - many need you to download elements before they can be played.

Step 3: Use free wi-fi

BT Mobile customers can get online for free at 13 million BT Fon hotspots around the world

Fon hotspots Paris

To find a hotspot visit

Enter ‘BT/’ before your BT ID username and email eg: BT/

Read more in our article: What to do if you lose your phone abroad.

*Prices correct at time of writing, please check before you go abroad.