Avoid roaming charges after Brexit: Here’s how

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Avoid roaming charges after Brexit: Here’s how
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Check and limit data roaming in the UK. Find alternatives and avoid unnecesary roaming charges after Brexit.

How to avoid roaming charges after Brexit

Planning a trip to the UK? Or do you visit the UK on a regular basis? You might wonder what the return of roaming charges after Brexit means for you.

For the past couple of years, using your Irish phone in the UK was simple. Costs were the same as when you were using it at home. But after Brexit, the days of extra data roaming costs have come back.

Not just travelling to the UK, but to other parts of Europe as well? Check our guide on roaming outside of Ireland.

What is Data Roaming?

What is roaming and why does it cost extra? Data roaming, simply put, is what happens when your phone connects with a foreign phone network. This happens automatically when you travel abroad.

Your provider pays the owner of the foreign network a fee to be able to use the service. Often, your provider charges you these costs. As many people noticed across the years, they can be quite expensive. The EU made an agreement to limit, or completely eliminate data roaming costs. So if you’re travelling from Ireland to the EU all your calls, text messages and data services cost the same as they do in Ireland.

One difference between using your phone abroad rather than at home is the so-called ‘fair play policy’. Since roaming still costs your provider, they can set rules to limit their costs. This means there is a limit to how much data you can use abroad. These limits are set by your provider and most likely depend on the kind of contract you have. You can find more information on roaming in the European Union here. You can also find a list here of all the countries that you can travel to without paying roaming costs.

How are roaming charges different after Brexit?

After Brexit, the UK no longer falls under EU regulation. That means providers can implement roaming costs again. Multiple providers already have.

This means you will once again be charged when you use data services in the UK if you’re with an Irish provider. It makes sense that you want to limit these costs, or even better, avoid them altogether. But how do you do this?

How to avoid roaming charges

You can avoid roaming charges by turning roaming off on your phone. This means your phone won’t use data from a foreign network. If you’re in the UK and without Wi-Fi, your phone won’t use the internet. Of course, you can still use the internet on your phone, you just have to find a Wi-Fi hotspot. But how do you turn roaming off on your phone? That depends on the kind of phone you are using.

How to avoid roaming charges on Android

So, you want to keep a lid on data roaming? There are multiple ways in which you can keep track of and avoid roaming charges on android.

How to know your Android phone is roaming

First of all, you want to know whether your phone is roaming or not. When you are, a roaming icon will appear at the top right of your screen. It is usually an R next to your provider’s information.

How to turn data roaming off on Android

Turning roaming off on your android phone is easy and can be done in just a couple of steps.

  1. Open the settings on your phone.

  2. Select Connections (this might also be called Mobile Network)

  3. Press Mobile Networks (if the previous step was mobile network you press Mobile Data here)

  4. Turn Data Roaming off by swiping the button to the left.

If you just want to limit your data roaming you can do that as well by selecting the kind of network your phone automatically connects to. 5G & 4G are the fastest network but cost the most. If you just want to receive a single message or email, select 2G instead. Roaming charges will still apply, but it will be slightly cheaper.

How to avoid texting charges on Android

Your phone automatically retrieves text messages you’ve received. This might lead to surcharges. You can turn this off on your android as follows:

  1. Open your phone’s text messaging app.

  2. Tap on Settings (on some phones you need to press Advanced Settings after going into the settings)

  3. Tap Auto-Retrieve or Roaming Auto-Retrieve off.

How to avoid roaming charges on iPhone

You can check your data usage and avoid roaming charges on iPhone as follows:

How to know your iPhone is roaming

Whenever your iPhone is roaming an icon will appear on the top right corner of your screen. This is usually an R. You can check how much data your iPhone is using while roaming as follows:

  1. Go to the Settings if your iPhone

  2. Press Cellular or Settings

  3. Press Mobile Data.

  4. Your data usage is now showing on your screen.

How to turn data roaming off on iPhone

  1. Open the Settings on your iPhone.

  2. Press Cellular.

  3. Press Cellular Data Options.

  4. Tap the slider to the right of Data Roaming so that it turns white.

How to find a free Wi-Fi spot to avoid data roaming

Once you have turned data roaming off on your phone, you’ll have to use Wi-Fi to use the internet in the UK. Maybe you want to look something up, or maybe you need to check a work email. In these cases, you need to find a Wi-Fi spot. Luckily there are plenty of ways that you can find a (free) Wi-Fi spot.

If you’re on the go and in need of a Wi-Fi hotspot your best guess is to find a restaurant, café or public library. Starbucks and McDonalds are two of the best know places that have free Wi-Fi, but almost every place you can eat or drink has one too. Sometimes you can use these for free, sometimes you have to pay a fee or order something. Public places, such as libraries, often have free Wi-Fi spots as well.

If you’ve got some time to plan, or if you’re visiting the UK often, you might want to look for a Wi-Fi spot before you travel. In that case, you can use Wi-Fi map or a hotspot finder app on your phone like We-Fi. With these tools, you can find a Wi-Fi spot across the UK or the rest of the world.

Other tips for avoiding roaming charges after Brexit

Turning data roaming off on your phone is a way to avoid being charged too much. It can also be very annoying since you can no longer use your network to use the internet on your phone. Maybe you don’t have the time to look for a Wi-Fi spot. Or maybe you’re travelling to the UK so often that it gets annoying to always have to find free Wi-Fi.

Luckily, this is not the only way you can avoid data roaming costs.

  • Change Provider

The first thing you can look at is the (Irish) provider you use. Different providers can set different rates. This means you may want to compare UK roaming charges after Brexit for your provider and others. If your provider charges more for roaming it’s a good idea to switch. Check out this list of roaming charges for Irish providers.

UK customers looking to roam in Europe have a similar challenge. You can find a comparison of the roaming rates from UK companies here.

  • Get a UK (prepaid) SIM card

Another way to avoid roaming charges after Brexit altogether is to buy a (prepaid) UK sim card. This is perfect for you if you travel to the UK a lot, or if you’re planning to stay in the UK for a longer time. With a UK sim card, you can use your phone to local prices. With a prepaid sim card, you don’t have to take on a subscription you don’t need. This way you are avoiding roaming charges and limiting your phone bill overall.

You can compare and buy prepaid sim plans for the UK right here on Recharge.com. Check our for more information.


Written by

Sabine Bevers