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Inclusive roaming: ranking the UK's best mobile networks for going abroad in 2018

Comparing international roaming

We compare each UK mobile provider to find the best network for roaming internationally in the EU and worldwide, plus look at fair usage policies and restrictions. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 10th October 2018.

In our international roaming guide

Our rankings system

Free EU roaming and restrictions
Differences between each network
Worldwide inclusive roaming schemes

How our rankings work

Comparing roaming on each network

Which only offer free EU roaming?
Which offer roaming elsewhere for free?
How much do you pay for roaming on each?

Mobile networks compared

Plans and FAQs

Best roaming SIMs
Using roaming if you live abroad
EU roaming after Brexit

Roaming SIMs | FAQs

How our roaming rankings work

Free EU roaming on every network but there are still big differences between them

Map of Europe

Every network now includes EU roaming

You might have seen in the news or on mobile providers' websites that roaming rules have changed, so that no network is allowed to make it more expensive to roam in EU countries, than it is to use your phone in the UK.

On pay monthly plans, this basically means being able to use your plan's monthly minutes, texts and data there for no extra cost. On pay as you go, it'll cost you the same per minute, text or MB as at home.

But the rule change does allow mobile networks to place "Fair Usage" restrictions on their roaming. And some providers do limit how much of your data (and mins/texts) allowances you can use abroad.

Our rankings below pick through the restrictions on each networks. The more sneaky catches there are, the lower we'll rate that provider. The more free countries, the higher the ranking too.

Useful link: How each network's roaming compares

Worldwide inclusive roaming is now the big difference

Map of the world

Some networks include worldwide roaming too

While the way roaming works when you're abroad in an EU country only has a few differences between each of the mobile networks, there are huge differences when you step outside that zone.

Some providers offer inclusive roaming in multiple worldwide countries, some let you pay a bit extra to use your plan there and others are still charging colossal rates per minute, text and MB data.

If you regularly go abroad to countries outside of Europe, it's worth knowing how each mobile provider compares. And what the rules are once you actually get there.

In the sections below, we give the best rankings to networks where it's included genuinely at no extra costs. We also flag the ones where you can pay a little extra to get worldwide roaming included too.

Useful link: Comparing each network's roaming

Where to next?

Navigate within this article

Each mobile network's roaming compared

Got a particular network in mind?

Click on a logo to read what we think of their roaming

Three logo
BT Mobile logo
EE logo
giffgaff logo
ID logo
O2 logo
SMARTY logo
Virgin Mobile logo
Vodafone logo
VOXI logo

1st: Three's Go Roam is the most comprehensive scheme

Three logoFlags on Three's Go Roam

New countries added almost yearlySee the latest list

at Three.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign The most destinations without paying extra
Green plus sign You get it on every plan, even the cheapest
Green plus sign List of countries grows regularly

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Not always the fastest speeds available
Red minus sign Some usage limits

Other networks like Vodafone now theoretically offer more worldwide destinations to roam at no extra cost than Three. But dig down, and you'll find that you're paying a premium for them. That's not the case on Three:

Every one of their pay monthly phone contracts or SIM only plans let you use your allowances at no extra cost in any of these 71 destinations that include the USA, Australia and more. It even works on pay as you go.

It's not flawless. You don't get the fastest 4G speeds while abroad, you can't tether and you can only use up to 12-15GB data, 5000 texts and 3000 mins. But that's more than most of us use at home, never mind on holiday.

But if you want to keep on using your phone while you're away, without paying for it through other stealthy charges and higher basic plan costs, Go Roam is still the best inclusive roaming on the UK market for us.

Useful link: Three's full guide to Go Roam at Three.co.uk

Our ranking:
1st place

Inclusive countries as standard:
71 in total
(48 in Europe, 23 worldwide)

Data limits on inclusive usage:
12GB - 15GB a month
(depends on plan and country)

Extra countries as add‑on:
Data passport
or pay per min, text, MB data

2nd: Vodafone's Global Roaming is great but expensive

Vodafone logoVodafone's Global Roaming banner

Full 4G speeds and use your full allowancesSee all benefits

at Vodafone.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Up to 77 destinations included (more than Three)
Green plus sign 4G speeds wherever they're available
Green plus sign Use your full UK data allowance

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Non-EU places only "free" on most-expensive plans
Red minus sign Daily charges on non-qualifying plans

What we like about Three's Go Roam is that you don't have to buy a more expensive plan to get inclusive roaming. On Vodafone, you can go more places but it's definitely a premium service that will cost you more.

Most their phone contracts and SIM only plans only come with the basic 48 EU countries included. To use your regular UK allowances in a massive 104 worldwide destinations, you have to pay an extra £6 daily charge.

That could get expensive pretty fast. But Vodafone do have another option: take a phone or a SIM on Red Entertainment plan and they won't charge you that daily fee in 77 of the 104 countries (see where here).

These plans include a subscription to one of these streaming services for extra value. But then they're typically more expensive than regular deals. All in all with Vodafone, you get more but you definitely pay more.

Useful link: Vodafone's full guide to roaming costs at vodafone.co.uk

Our ranking:
2nd place

Inclusive countries as standard:
48 in Europe

Data limits on inclusive usage:
No
Use up to all your UK data

3rd: O2 include worldwide destinations on premium plans

O2 logoO2 roaming banner

Only premium plans have roaming elsewhereSee qualifying plans

at O2.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Massive list of potential included countries
Green plus sign EU roaming as standard on pay monthly

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Worldwide countries only on premium plans
Red minus sign Daily charges on non-qualifying plans

Like every network, all of O2's pay monthly plans include at least free roaming within the EU, where you can use your full allowance. They also offer Travel passes charged daily for places further afield.

A big improvement they've just made is similar to Vodafone, where O2 will not charge you for those daily passes if you take particular phone contracts and SIM only plans (the more-expensive ones naturally).

This unlocks a further 27 destinations like the USA, Canada and Australia. Instead of using up your UK mins, texts and data though, you get a daily batch of 120 mins, 120 texts and around 150MB full-speed data to use.

We think that's a fair amount to use while away on a daily basis but it's a restriction some might find tedious. You're also effectively paying a premium for the service as the plans themselves are the pricier ones.

Useful link: Read O2's full roaming guide at O2.co.uk

Our ranking:
3rd

Inclusive countries as standard:
48 in Europe

Data limits on inclusive usage:
No - use anything up to your full data allowance

4th: EE's fast 4G roaming but more-limited destinations

EE logoEE inclusive roaming

Only 5 places outside the EU on EERead their guide

at EE.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign EU roaming as standard
Green plus sign 4G speeds wherever they're available
Green plus sign Some plans let you go further

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Limited non-EU inclusive destinations
Red minus sign Non-EU only on phone contracts (not SIMs)

When the new rules on inclusive EU roaming came in, EE beat the deadline and brought in the changes early allowing you to use your mins, texts and data abroad in these 48 destinations.

They also offer a further 5 popular worldwide destinations (Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and USA) if you take one of their more-premium plans called EE Max Plans.

That's a welcome move because the costs for using your phone there on other networks can be colossal. But it's worth noting you're paying extra for you plan in the first place, and they're only available on phone contracts, no SIM only.

Another good thing with EE is that they say you'll get 4G speeds in any country where they are available (Three's Go Roam only offers 3G). Going anywhere, you'll pay as you go or buy a travel data pass.

Useful link: All inclusive roaming on EE from their offical guide

Our ranking:
4th

Inclusive countries as standard:
48 in the EU / EEA

Data limits on inclusive usage:
Up to 15GB a month

5th: Sky Mobile - regular EU roaming plus some premium add-ons

Sky Mobile logoSky roaming passports banner

Sky have branded their roaming as PassportsSee what you get

at Sky.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Plenty of inclusive EU destinations
Green plus sign No limits on your usage while away
Green plus sign Ways to make roaming cheaper elsewhere

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Nowhere else in the world included
Red minus sign Charges elsewhere are expensive

We’ve ranked Sky Mobile in the upper end of the mid-range, because although their only inclusive roaming is in EU countries, they do have some add-ons to go a bit further afield.

Whenever you’re within any of the 36 destinations Sky have listed here, you’ll be able to use your plan’s full allowances of minutes, texts and data there, at no extra cost (no data usage caps).

Sky also offer what they call “Roaming Passports” in 10 extra countries, including the USA. These charge you £5 per day to use your plan’s normal data allowance (calls and texts are charged as you use them).

This works out cheaper than other networks, who charge extortionate rates per MB worldwide. But it’s way pricier than providers, who include the destinations free anyway.

Useful link: Read Sky Mobile's page on roaming at Sky.com

Our ranking:
5th

Inclusive countries as standard:
36 EU / EEA

Data limits on inclusive usage:
None
(use your full allowance)

Joint 6th: VOXI have standard EU roaming with no catches

VOXI logoVOXI roaming banner

Even use Endless social data there tooLearn more

at VOXI.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Loads of inclusive EU roaming places
Green plus sign Take your Endless Social Data with you
Green plus sign No data usage caps in inclusive countries

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Whole network is only for under 30s
Red minus sign No inclusive worldwide roaming
Red minus sign Roaming elsewhere is expensive

VOXI earn their place in the middle of our rankings, because there’s no real catches to their roaming, while at the same time there’s nothing particularly unique about it either.

See the list of the countries within the EU here, where you can use your plan’s minutes, texts and data, without any caps (although you can’t just live permanently abroad).

A nice touch with VOXI is that their Endless Social Media benefit on all plans, which gives you unlimited data for using loads of social media apps, works even while you’re away in an EU country.

Outside the EU, it’s a case of topping up with credit, and paying for your usage as you go, per minute, text and MB data. The latest rates are listed here under VOXI’s help pages.

Useful link: All benefits to joining VOXI at VOXI.co.uk

Our ranking:
Joint 6th

Inclusive countries as standard:
48 in EU / EEA

Data limits on inclusive usage:
None
(use your full allowances)

Extra countries as add-on:
None
(pay per min, text, MB data)

Joint 6th: SMARTY - straightforward inclusive usage in EU countries

SMARTY logoSMARTY EU roaming banner

Use your whole SMARTY plan at no extra costRead full guide

at SMARTY.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Inclusive roaming in EU countries
Green plus sign Use all your data while away
Green plus sign Cheap and simple plans in first place

What we don't like:
Red minus sign No other inclusive destinations
Red minus sign Expensive non-EU roaming

The whole philosophy of low-cost provider SMARTY is about simplicity and fairness, which is why we give them a decent rating in our review. The same is true for their inclusive roaming:

The countries where you can use your plan at no extra cost are the standard EU ones (double-check the full list here). There’s no free roaming elsewhere in the world.

Whilst in the EU, you can use anything up to your entire monthly data allowance, there’s no complicated data fair usage policies like there is other low-cost providers iD Mobile and Virgin.

If you want to go outside the EU, you just need to top up with credit. You’ll then pay per minute, text and data out of that. The rates vary per country and can be found here on their website.

Useful link: All benefits to SMARTY's roaming

Our ranking:
Joint 6th

Inclusive countries as standard:
34 in EU / EEA

Data limits on inclusive usage:
None
(use your full allowance)

Extra countries as add-on:
None
(pay per min, text, MB data)

Joint 6th: Tesco Mobile - nothing extra, nothing sneaky

Tesco Mobile logoHome From Home roaming on Tesco

Use your home plan in 48 destinationsSee latest countries

at tescomobile.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Decent list of inclusive EU roaming countries
Green plus sign No caps on data usage in inclusive area

What we don't like:
Red minus sign No inclusive roaming outside EU
Red minus sign Expensive rates outside the EU

We’d rank roaming on Tesco Mobile firmly in the mid-table of all the UK’s mobile networks. There’s no fiddly limitations but there’s nothing above beyond what you’d get elsewhere.

Their Home From Home scheme gives you inclusive roaming in these EU countries but does exclude some of the French caribbean islands that you do get with other providers.

You can’t really go wrong when you’re in one of the Home From Home countries. There’s no limit on how much of your data you can use while you’re there but you can’t live abroad permanently!

Like practically every other network, once you leave the EU, you’re looking at paying per minute, text and data at these rates. This will be added to your monthly bill but will be capped if you set up a spending cap.

Useful link: All costs for international roaming at tescomobile.com

Our ranking:
Joint 6th

Inclusive countries as standard:
48 in EU / EEA

Data limits on inclusive usage:
None
(use full allowances abroad)

Extra countries as add-on:
None
(pay per min, text, MB data)

Joint 7th: Plusnet Mobile - some limits on data usage abroad

Plusnet Mobile logoPlusnet Mobile free EU roaming banner

Every SIM now has Roam Like At HomeSee all plans

at plus.net
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Comprehensive free EU roaming area
Green plus sign Most people have no data usage cap
Green plus sign Cheap and simple plans in general

What we don't like:
Red minus sign 15GB data cap within the EU
Red minus sign No other worldwide roaming included

Most people on Plusnet Mobile will be able to use their entire plan’s minutes, texts and data in these EU countries, at no extra cost thanks to Plusnet’s Roam Like Home Scheme.

Where there are some limits is if you’ve bought a really big data plan from Plusnet. According to their data usage policy here, you can’t use more than 15GB data while you’re abroad.

That’s a fairly big chunk to use while away. In fact it’s way more than the average UK customer will use while they’re at home! Also, you’ll struggle to find a Plusnet plan with as much as 15GB in the first place.

If you’re going elsewhere, usage will be added to your bill as you use your phone (by min, text and MB data). But you won’t be able to spend more than your monthly spending cap.

Useful link: All roaming costs on Plusnet Mobile from their help section

Our ranking:
Joint 7th

Inclusive countries as standard:
40 in EU / EEA

Data limits on inclusive usage:
15GB per month

Extra countries as add-on:
None
(pay per min, text, MB data)

Joint 7th: BT Mobile’s roaming is mostly unrestricted

BT Mobile logoRoam like Home in the EU banner

There's a huge 47 countries you can visitSee full country list

at BT.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Inclusive EU roaming in loads of places
Green plus sign Most customers' usage not capped

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Use a maximum 15GB abroad in the EU
Red minus sign Very few non-EU roaming add-ons

Also slap bang in the middle of our best roaming networks rankings is BT Mobile for the same reasons as their competitors around them in this list:

You can go to the EU and get inclusive roaming. But if you’re on one of their massive data plans (and BT sell quite a few of these), you’ll only be able to use 15GB a month there before charges kick in.

To be fair, 15GB to use while you’re on holiday in any of these 47 destinations is a huge amount (it’s more than most will use in a month at home). But it’s worth knowing if you’re a heavy user.

Otherwise, if you want to go anywhere else on BT Mobile, there’s no extra inclusive roaming or add-ons you can buy (except data in the USA). You’ll pay per minute, text and MB that will be added to your bill.

Useful link: Read BT's full roaming guide at BT.com

Our ranking:
Joint 7th

Inclusive countries as standard:
47 EU and EEA

Data limits on inclusive usage:
15GB per month

Joint 7th: giffgaff only have a few roaming restrictions

giffgaff logoRoaming with giffgaff

Roaming outside the EU gets expensiveSee costs per country

at giffgaff.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Big list of inclusive roaming countries
Green plus sign No usage caps for most customers
Green plus sign Cheap simple plans to start with

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Always On plan capped at 20GB a month
Red minus sign Expensive worldwide roaming charges

In terms of the EU destinations where you can use your monthly goodybag on giffgaff for no extra cost, the 37 countries listed here on their website are basically the same as all others.

And the good thing is that on most of their monthly goodybags, you’ll be able to use anywhere up to the entire data allowance, minutes and texts (as long as it doesn’t seem like you live permanently abroad).

It’s only if you take giffgaff’s Always On goodybag that you’ll come across restrictions in Europe. You can only use up to 20GB data there a month, before a speed cap and per MB charge kicks in.

There’s no inclusive worldwide roaming included on giffgaff. You’ll have to top up with credit and just pay per minute, text and MB data. Although, check out the costs here as they add up very quickly.

Useful link: Get £5 free credit when you join giffgaff via our invite page

Our ranking:
Joint 7th

Inclusive countries as standard:
37 EU and EEA only

Data limits on inclusive usage:
20GB data per month

Extra countries as add-on:
None
Pay per min, text or MB data

8th: iD Mobile have some extra destinations but some limits on data

iD Mobile logoiD Mobile free EU roaming banner

Cheaper plans limit roaming dataRead all the rules

at idmobile.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign The usual inclusive EU destinations
Green plus sign 5 extra non-EU destinations
Green plus sign Cheap basic plan costs in the first place

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Caps on data usage on cheapest deals
Red minus sign Little inclusive worldwide roaming

For a cheap monthly plan, we rate iD Mobile as a good choice. And you'll get the standard free EU roaming destinations included for your money too. But the low-cost network does have some restrictions:

iD have an Open Data Policy in place, which restricts how much of your normal monthly data allowance you can you in those countries. It only kicks in on their cheapest plans (typically ones under £10 a month).

As a low-cost network they've done this to keep their overall prices low but if you're taking a plan under £10, we'd recommend using their calculator here to make sure you don't get charged extra abroad.

iD do offer some non-EU inclusive roaming in places like Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Kazakhstan (hardly holiday hotspots). Elsewhere you'll pay per minute, text and MB data. See costs per country here.

Useful link: iD's full guide to roaming with them at idmobile.co.uk

Our ranking:
8th

Inclusive countries as standard:
46 in EU/EEA
4 outside Europe

Data limits on inclusive usage:
12GB - 15GB
(depends on plan and country)

Extra countries as add-on:
None
Pay per min, text or MB data

Last: Virgin Mobile have a complicated fair usage policy

Virgin Mobile logoScreenshot of Virgin Mobile's roaming fair usage calculator

You can't use all your data abroadUse calculator now

at virginmedia.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign 43 European destinations included
Green plus sign Phones and SIMs generally cheap in first place

What we don't like:
Red minus sign You can't use your full allowances
Red minus sign Expensive worldwide roaming

We give Virgin Mobile a really good score in our review but one of the things that lets them down is their roaming, even though they do include EU roaming like all other providers.

Unlike many others, Virgin operate a complicated formula (use their calculator here) that caps how much of your monthly data you can use abroad before extra charges kick in. Often it's only half your UK allowance.

That won't be a problem for many taking the odd trip and using their phones moderately, and it helps keep the overall cost of the deal down. But heavy users and frequent travellers will have to keep an eye on their usage.

What also lets Virgin Mobile down is when you travel outside of the EU, the roaming charges get very expensive, very fast. In the USA for instance, 1GB could cost £5000! Luckily there is a £52 spend cap.

Useful link: See Virgin's roaming information hub at virginmedia.com

Our ranking:
Last

Inclusive countries as standard:
43 (EU-only)

Limits on inclusive usage:
Yes
Fair usage policy on data

Extra countries as add‑on:
None
Pay per min, text, MB
(see costs)

Where to next?

Navigate within this article

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Free EU roaming FAQs

If the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, what happens to free EU roaming after Brexit?

You’re right: free roaming in the EU is an initiative of the European Union and applies to every country within it.

Continuing the scheme after the UK leaves will be something that is included in the UK and EU’s negotiations over Brexit. It’s unlikely that it will end the day the UK leaves but also not impossible.

In short, there are no guarantees but we will be able to enjoy it until at least March 2019 at the current Brexit timetable.

If I’m already in a contract with no roaming, will I get free EU roaming too?

Yes. Even if you signed up to a deal with no free EU roaming, you will automatically get it from 15th June 2017 at the latest (some networks may even offer it earlier) unless your plan was specifically marked as "UK only" at the time of purchase.

I live abroad in a European Union country, can I just take a UK plan out there with me?

The rules around free roaming are really only intended to make temporary travel cheaper within the EU.

Networks still have the right to block users who are seen to be permanently abroad (typically over a month at a time won’t be accepted). Each provider will have its own policy, so it’s worth checking before you sign up.

SIM Sherpa can help you find your next SIM only deal

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