Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Three follows Vodafone and EE in bringing back mobile roaming charges in Europe

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

Three has followed Vodafone and EE and become, ironically, the third UK mobile phone company to bring back roaming charges in Europe.

We covered EE’s introduction of roaming charges here and Vodafone’s introduction of roaming charges here.

From 23rd May 2022, Three will charge to use your existing minutes and data allowance in Europe. This applies to contracts signed or upgraded from 1st October 2021, so if you sit tight on your current deal you will not be impacted.

The changes are outlined on the Three website here in a press release which states that “there are now too many unknowns” to continue offering it for free. This is despite the fact that Three offered free roaming in many countries in Europe and worldwide before the EU directive ever came into affect.

A lot of Three’s customers will have joined the network in order to enjoy free roaming despite the shaky mobile signal in many parts of the UK.. Now that the benefit is being scrapped many are likely to look at other networks which have better UK coverage.

The new charges will be:

  • £2 per day in the EU (the same as EE and Vodafone will charge, by amazing coincidence)
  • £5 per day outside the EU

It is worth noting that EE and Vodafone will begin charging in January, so Three customers get an additional four months of free roaming.

‘Pay As You Go’ customers are not impacted by this change.

If you are currently under contract with Three, you will not pay until after your next contract renewal. Any contracts renewed during September will continue to include free roaming after 22nd May where it is a published benefit – it will only be added to the T&C on contracts issued from 1st October.

What will O2 do?

O2 – the remaining holdout – has said that it has no plans to reintroduce roaming charge. It is introducing a ‘fair use’ cap of 25GB per month in the EU, with additional charges for any usage above this level.

Under the Brexit trade agreement, it was stated that the UK and EU would “co-operate on promoting transparent and reasonable rates” for mobile charges but no guarantees were made on roaming charges. At the time, the four major UK mobile networks said that they had no intention to introduce roaming charges which may have influenced the Government in deciding not to push for including it in law.

You can read more on the Three website here.

Comments (137)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • CarpalTravel says:

    Absolutely top of my list of reasons for choosing Three has been Go-Roam, has been for years. Let’s face it, Signal and Speed are firmly at the bottom otherwise you would go with any other provider. Just renewed but come 12months, I will move to on of the others.

    I think they will regret this move, I really do.

  • Andy S says:

    ID mobile still has free EU roaming for now:

    • Brighton Belle says:

      But ID mobile use Three masts so this won’t last long.

    • Rui N. says:

      Plus net as well. And they say “we don’t have any plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome.”, so we can trust them to keep their word!

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    According to MSE Three have said that if you allow an existing contract to continue past the minimum length you will retain free Go Roam

    • stevenhp1987 says:

      Nothing stopping Three from moving you to a new plan though when it expires though.

      I recently had a letter telling me they were moving me to another plan unless I agreed to a new contract. Thankfully just re-contracted for 24 months!

      • Genghis says:

        I had EE wanting to move me to a new more expensive plan. Old plan was £8.80 or so a month. I renegotiated and now pay £7. Why do they bother?

  • numpty says:

    3 are probably underestimating the impact of this, its the main reason many are with them. A few years ago they ditched unlimited data tariff, then quickly brought it back.

    But 3 also don’t support esim, which is useful when you want to put a local SIM card in your phone. So no free roaming, and no esim support means no reason to stay with them. 3 also throttled data speeds when abroad.

    A lot of providers in Asia provide really good tourist SIM cards at the airport, and set it all up for you at the counter – SIM card goes in spare slot in iPhone.

    I changed from 3 to EE last week (had been with 3 for yrs), got my esim in the app (took seconds to do), and found proper 5G speeds available (460Mbps).

    • Dominic says:

      Agree with everything you’ve said, bar the 5G point. Depends where you’re located to which type of 5G you get – speeds differ drastically. Doesn’t three have the largest amount of high-band 5G available (/will do?) – not 100% sure.

      • Numpty says:

        I regularly get 400mbs on EE when with 3 5G regularly got 50Mbs. Not that it makes a difference on a mobile device. Although 5G home routers are now available.

    • Rhys says:

      Doesn’t Three offer eSIM now? It says they are on their website.

    • Anuj says:

      Exactly, I’ve got the vodafone plan with roaming, I put that as a esim. If I go abroad to a country not included I simply get a local sim in the spare slot. Seeing as you can normally either do it at the airport or just outside and pay the same prices as a local, you save after just one days use.

    • Lady London says:

      Good point numpty. Customers who will walk due to this would tend to be wealthier customers as well. Are they just doing oligopolistic industry follow-me or have they really thought it through?

      • Numpty says:

        3 are owned by Hutchison Telecom who have networks all over the world, which is why Go Roam was such a good idea. Never thought they would ditch it.

        O2 are owned by Telefonica, again lots of foreign networks….

        I think Vodafone internationally the ownership is complex.

  • Dave says:

    Roaming is still free for Three PAYG customers.
    Could be worthwhile getting a free Three sim and using an add on (£5 for 1Gb a month, £7 for 3Gb) when travelling abroad.

    • KBuffett says:

      I noted that too in their announcement.
      Can anyone confirm what good options there are to get one of these SIM’s that won expire to keep for use when travelling?

  • Dominic says:

    Ahh, thanks to all those wonderful people that voted Brexit. Turned out to be a brilliant decision for UK consumers. Yes, I know this is companies capitalising on that; but what did we think would happen?

    Three’s one benefit is their Go Roam Further offer; speed is poor in many places, and they still don’t have esims (for smartwatches). I’ll be off at the end of this contract.

    • ThePenguin says:

      Thanks to all those wonderful people who voted to join the EU and its massive expansion….. Oh, wait a minute??

      • kk says:

        no eu and ull just sit on the apron till you die of hunger like in china.

        hail ec261/2004

    • Lady London says:

      I was about to renew this week, but now very, very unsure if I should take another contract with Three.

      Coverage in London has been pants. But at least you could rely on no unexpected bills while travelling. True, the roaming service was definitely throttled by Three’s partners especially in whole areas of the USA wherr a local network would connect and charge huge amounts but pretty much be nonfunctional.

      I am going to have to really, really think about this. It’s actually the 3rd serious negative pricing change by Three this year. If this was all I’d be confident. But now i’m wondering what is Three going to come up with next.

      • Numpty says:

        Have a look on U Switch, they seem to get their own tariffs not shown on provider websites (but links through to provider, so no third parties)

  • Shad says:

    Why is this article concentrating on the withdrawal of roaming in Europe when Go Roam was (still is until May next year) good for 71 countries – there are only 27 in the EU (according to Wikipedia..)

    IDMobile uses 3 as its network, so it will only be a matter of time before they update their T’s&C’s to match 3’s (which is a shame because i’m on ID)….

    • Dominic says:

      Because the Go Roam Further offer was an extension of the EU law that required all providers to offer free roaming in the EU.

      • CarpalTravel says:

        But it was present before the EU law.

        • Dominic says:

          Three introduced it in response to the EU Law, and took the opportunity as a marketing stunt that they were ahead of the curve.

          EU Law was first proposed in 2013, and approved by European Parliament in 2014 (and enacted later).

    • Harry says:

      Good luck, iD has some of the highest roaming rates out there.
      e.g. Morocco £6 per minute and £1.20 per text message

  • old codger says:

    So this is the end of ALL 3’s roaming charges then, not just in the EU?

    Definite lowering of services, but just another thing we can thank the Brexit Experiment for. As all these and other disasters start to hit the hip pocket of Brexiteers, there’ll soon be a call to rejoin.

    • bafan says:

      Nah they’ll be in the homes by then watching Countdown and eating rice pudding. It’s those of us under 35 who were really screwed (if I didn’t have other passports I’d have left already).

      • Richie says:

        They don’t like Anne Robinson, so they’ll nap through Countdown.

      • Chris H says:

        I understand the sentiment but as an under-35 I’d say there’s nothing wrong with Countdown and a good bowl of rice pudding!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.