Roaming charges

Roaming charges can be costly, but from 15 June 2017, new rules mean Irish customers travelling within the EU can ‘Roam like at Home’.

Best value plan for EU roaming

‘Roam like at Home’ means that if at home you have unlimited calls and texts, you will get unlimited calls and texts when roaming in the EU. In terms of data, the allowance you get will depend on your allowance at home.

This plan from eir offers unlimited calls, texts and data at home, and customers will get the same amount of calls and texts, as well as 30GB of data, while roaming in the EU.

Data roaming allowances in the EU (SIM-only plans)

If you have a low data limit at home - for example 1GB - you will still get the same allowance when roaming in the EU. However, if at home you have unlimited mobile data or a very high data limit, your operator will apply a limit on data use while roaming - some examples are outlined below:

Network Plan Name Cost p/m Home data* EU data  
eir mobile Connect - 30 day €14.99** 80GB 30GB  
GoMo Go More €12.99 80GB 10GB  
Lycamobile Ireland Plus Online €10** 25GB 7GB  
Tesco Mobile Unlimited 30 Day €19.67 60GB 9.3GB  
Three Unlimited SIMO €29.51 Unlimited** 19GB  
Virgin Mobile Unlimited €5** 80GB 13.6GB  
Vodafone Red Unlimited Sim Only €25** Unlimited** Unlimited**  
48 €7.99 Plan €7.99 100GB 10GB  

*Home data’ figure outlines the cap on data, under the network’s fair usage policy **€14.99 per month for 12 months, €29.99 thereafter **€10 per month for the first three months, €15 thereafter **Unlimited: Fair Usage Policy applies **€5 for 6 months, €25 thereafter **€25 per month for the first six months, €35 thereafter **Unlimited: Fair Usage Policy applies

If your limit is different to at home, your operator will have to inform you in advance. You’ll also get an alert when you reach 80% of your limit, and again when you reach 100%.

Does ‘Roam like at home’ actually work?

If you’re a talker or a texter, the new rules will work out really well for you. However, if you’re a heavy data user, you’ll need to be careful about how you use your data in the EU to avoid excess charges - try downloading content over WiFi, rather than streaming, and turn off automatic updates for apps.

If you’re concerned that your current plan won’t suit you while you’re abroad, you could compare SIM-only deals and make a switch to a more suitable plan.

Roaming outside of the EU

While the ‘Roam like at Home’ rules are good news for people travelling within the EU, if you’re travelling elsewhere, you’ll still need to be wary of roaming charges.

In destinations like Asia, the US and Australia, charges for calls to home can be over €3 per minute, while sending a single text costs up to 75 cent.

And using WiFi only in these destinations will be crucial if you don’t want to face exorbitant charges, as you could be looking at charges of between €5 and €10 per MB when you go online. Bear in mind, 1MB is only enough data to browse one website, so costs could quickly add up!

If you’re worried about charges you may face while roaming, contact your network to clarify how much they’ll be in the country you’re travelling to. You’ll also receive a text from your network when you arrive at your destination, which gives you information on the charges, and they’ll contact you to alert you of your roaming spend, too.

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