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

Comparing international roaming

We compare each of the UK's mobile providers to find the best network for roaming internationally in the EU, the USA and worldwide. SIM Sherpa is your trusty guide. Last updated: 29th July 2017.

In our international roaming guide

Intro to free and inclusive roaming

Changes to EU roaming in June 2017
What does free roaming mean?
Tips on deciding the right mobile network

Read intro to roaming

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?

Compare each network

More information and FAQs

Impact of Brexit
Customers already in contract
Living abroad

Read FAQs

Free EU roaming update

Every UK network now has to offer inclusive EU roaming

Free EU roaming on every mobile network

EU roaming is now included on all networksCompare SIM only plans

You may have noticed that a lot of UK mobile networks have started offering more roaming in their plans than before. This is because the law has changed around charging for roaming within the EU.

From 15th June 2017, every mobile network in the UK has had to offer free EU roaming as standard in their monthly plans.

This will mean you can use UK minutes, texts and data included in your monthly plan while you’re on the continent without paying extra (although networks can still set a limit on how much data you can use there).

Some mobile providers launched this early to get ahead of their competition. Others launched it on 15th June.

If you're mainly interested in EU only roaming, you can now choose from any mobile network, even the very cheapest ones.

Useful link: Compare SIM only plans with free EU roaming

Click a logo to read full details on each network's free EU roaming

Three EU roaming
BT Mobile EU roaming
EE EU roaming
giffgaff EU roaming
ID EU roaming
O2 EU roaming
Plusnet EU roaming
Sky EU roaming
Tesco EU roaming
The People's Operator EU roaming
Virgin EU roaming
Vodafone EU roaming

Our rankings now look at worldwide non-EU roaming

Best mobile network for roaming

Because free roaming in Europe is now included as standard across mobile networks, our rankings for best provider for roaming now looks at using your phone outside the EU for no extra cost.

We look for providers who include free roaming in plans or the lowest cost or best-value mobile networks if they don't offer it.

Inclusive worldwide roaming (non-EU)

Winner: Three’s Feel At Home is still the most comprehensive

Three logo

You can go to the most places worldwide with ThreeSee destinations

We rank Three as having the best free roaming options. That’s due to the sheer range of non-EU destinations you can take your phone to without having to buy any extras.

Three’s free roaming scheme is called Feel At Home. It lets you use your regular allowance of UK minutes, texts and data in 60 destinations abroad, without having to buy extra passes, add-ons or bundles each time.

The current destinations include all EU countries and also worldwide destinations such as the USA and Australia (see the latest full list of destinations here).

You get Feel At Home Around The World on any of Three’s pay monthly plans that are labelled as ‘Advanced Plans’ on phones and SIM only. On their no-frills ‘Essential Plans’, you only get EU roaming.

Overall, if you want to take your phone abroad, you’ve got the best chance of your country being covered by Three.

Useful link: Full details about roaming on Three

Our ranking:
1st

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
12 (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
Yes (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Per min/text/MB (see rates)

2nd place: EE offer worldwide destinations on premium plans

EE logo

Free EU roaming and some inclusive worldwideHow it works

If you want to make sure you get 4G speeds while you’re abroad, EE are a sensible choice, as they offer the faster speeds in every country where the technology is available (depending on the local networks).

EE added free EU roaming before the 15th June deadline to all their pay monthly plans, plus 5 extra destinations to their most-premium phone contracts too (but not SIM only).

If you join on EE’s more-premium ‘Max’ plans, you’ll also be able roam at no extra cost in 5 extra destinations outside Europe too that include the USA and Canada.

For anywhere not covered by free roaming, you’ll pay as you use your phone at these latest rates or you can buy add-ons that give you a chunk of minutes, texts or data to use abroad (see costs here).

Useful link: EE's own guide to international roaming

Our ranking:
2nd

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
5 (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
4G Max only (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Travel passes / per usage (see rates)

3rd place: Vodafone’s 'Global Roaming'

Vodafone logo

Free roaming in EU and fixed cost passes worldwideLearn more

We rate Vodafone highly for roaming for two reasons. First, all their pay monthly phones and SIMs include some free roaming. Second, you get 4G speeds everywhere they’re available, which isn’t always the case.

Vodafone’s scheme is called ‘Global Roaming’ and it’s split into two categories: Roam-free and Roam-further.

‘Roam-free’ covers these 50 European destinations and lets you use up your regular UK minutes, texts and data while you’re in any of those countries, at no extra cost.

Roam-further are an extra 60 countries (see the latest ones in Vodafone’s list here) outside Europe, where you’ll pay a flat daily charge to use your regular allowances.

We don’t rank Vodafone roaming as better than Three because Vodafone's extra worldwide destinations still come with a fixed additional daily charge, even though there are more destinations in number.

Useful link: See full Vodafone roaming details

Our ranking:
3rd

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
None. 60 extra for a fixed daily charge (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
Pay Monthly only (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Travel passes / per usage (see rates)

4th place: O2 Travel passes cover some worldwide destinations

O2 logo

O2 published when they will give free EU roamingRead the guide

Like all other networks, O2 have had free EU roaming since June 15th 2017. They also offer a worldwide service called ‘O2 Travel’, which gives you a daily bundle of roaming minutes, texts and data for a flat charge.

The daily cost of the O2 Travel bolt on depends on where you’re going, with a different fee international destinations. You choose if you want to activate the service or not.

If you’d rather not pay the charge for bundle or you’re going somewhere not covered by O2 Travel, you can also just to pay their standard roaming charges per minute, text and MB of data (see latest costs here).

All in all, O2 aren’t the most competitive network for roaming out there but works if you’re only abroad every now and then and only want to use your phone occasionally while you’re there.

Useful link: How all roaming works on O2

Our ranking:
4th

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
None. 30 extra for a fixed daily charge (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
Pay Monthly and PAYG (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Travel passes / per usage (see rates)

5th place: BT Mobile offer free EU roaming plus a USA add-on

BT Mobile logo

BT Mobile will call their scheme "Roam like home"What it lets you do

BT enabled roaming at no extra cost within the EU slightly earlier than some of the other networks, when they launch edtheir ‘Roam Like Home’ scheme on June 1st.

Roam Like Home lets you use up your monthly UK minutes, texts and data in these 40 European destinations, without incurring any extra charges to your bill. Although if you exceed your monthly limit there charges.

For now, when you go abroad on BT Mobile, you have two choices: either pay for usage as you go at their standard roaming rates (which you can see here) or buy a data add-on to use in the USA (see here).

Either way, roaming isn’t really BT Mobile’s strong point for now but would still suit the occasional traveller.

Useful link: Get the full story on BT Mobile roaming at BT.com

Our ranking:
5th

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
None. Data in USA for fixed charge (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
Pay Monthly only (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Per usage (see rates)

Rating all other mobile networks for roaming

All other providers offer inclusive EU roaming only

The rest of our list only include the bare minimum of EU roaming (no worldwide destinations) and there's actually little to choose between them.

We rank them according to general cheapness of plans and extra roaming costs.

TPO Mobile logo

6th place: The People's Operator are cheap and cheerful and offer free EU roaming

Our 6th placed network is there purely because of the cheapness of their most basic plans, which come on 1-month contracts.

They don't make a huge amount of fuss about roaming on their website, perhaps because it's not overly profitably for them with such cheap plans in the first place. Either way, they use Three's network and donate 10% to a charity of your choice.

Our ranking:
6th

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
None. EU countries only (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
Pay Monthly only (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Per usage (see rates)

Plusnet Mobile logo

7th place: Plusnet Mobile give you free EU roaming on a cheap, flexible deal

Earning their place in 7th position is Plusnet Mobile again largely due to the good value you find across their deals.

You'll now get free EU roaming (Roam Like At Home) on all their pay monthly plans, plus fast 4G provided by EE (the UK's biggest network) and all their deals are on short 1-month contracts too: a great cheap roaming solution all round.

Our ranking:
7th

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
None. EU countries only (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
Pay Monthly only (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Per usage (see rates)

iD Mobile logo

8th place: iD Mobile remove worldwide roaming to offer it only within the EU

We used to rate iD Mobile a lot higher for roaming because their now defunct 'Takeaway' plans offered some worldwide roaming at no extra cost. Although you did have to sign a longer 12-month contract to get this benefit.

Instead now, free EU roaming comes as standard across iD Mobile's low-cost, 1-month SIM only plans, which use Three's network.

Our ranking:
8th

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
None. EU countries only (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
Pay Monthly only (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Per usage (see rates)

Virgin Mobile logo

9th place: Virgin Mobile offer Roam Like Home in the EU on EE's 4G network

Another cheap provider, Virgin Mobile have offered free EU roaming with all their pay monthly plans since June 2017 known as Roam Like Home. Their SIM only plans are now all 12-month contracts but you can still switch tariffs up and down each month.

Other benefits include keeping your unused data each month and unlimited data for WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter.

Our ranking:
9th

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
None. EU countries only (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
Pay Monthly only (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Per usage (see rates)

giffgaff logo

10th place: giffgaff offer free EU roaming with all their Goodybag bundles

giffgaff are known for their cheap monthly bundles and 4G provided by O2 but they've also added the benefit of free EU roaming now too.

If you want to roam outside the EU though, their per min/text/MB data rates do get pretty steep, pretty quick though, which keeps them quite low down in our best roaming network rankings.

Our ranking:
10th

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
None. EU countries only (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
Monthly Goodybags only (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Per usage (see rates)

Tesco Mobile logo

11th place: Tesco Mobile's 'Home From Home' is back permanently

Tesco launched their free EU roaming called Home From Home from June 15th 2017 and it comes on all their pay monthly plans.

Roaming in other worldwide locations on Tesco is still pretty pricey though but the overall reasonable pricing of their plans in general might be enough to not make this an issue for infrequent travellers.

Our ranking:
11th

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
None. EU countries only (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
Pay Monthly & PAYG (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Per usage (see rates)

Sky Mobile logo

12th place: Sky Mobile also have free EU roaming

Coming bottom of our rankings but not because they're particularly bad is Sky Mobile. They offer the bare minimum of inclusive European roaming on their pay monthly plans.

Elsewhere in the world, you'll pay as you go for minutes, texts and data.

Our ranking:
12th

Inclusive non-EU destinations:
None. EU countries only (see here)

Restricted to certain plans?
Pay Monthly only (read details)

Costs in other countries:
Per usage (see rates)

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Free EU roaming FAQs

If Britain 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 at the latest (some networks may even offer it earlier).

Should I get a deal now or wait until my chosen network offers free EU roaming?

You’ll get free EU roaming from 15th June whether you sign up now or later. We fear some networks may use this as an opportunity to increase new plan prices later, because it feels like you’re getting more for your money.

For that reason, we’d recommend taking a deal you’ve seen now in case it changes. If you’re looking for a SIM only deal, use our SIM only deal finder below to compare the best value plans.

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

The new 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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