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Survey reveals potential pitfalls of using data abroad unchecked

Millions of UK adults are baffled by roaming charges and have no idea how much they could be hit – with some stung for more than £120 on their holidays.

A study of 2,000 mobile phone users who like to holiday revealed 63 per cent are confused by the cost of using their phone abroad.

Among the most perplexing things are the price difference in varying countries (59 per cent), how texts and calls are charged (55 per cent) and if roaming charges are already covered in the holidaymaker’s mobile plan (54 per cent).

A further 58 per cent are muddled by how they will be charged and if it’s a daily cost or a cost per gigabyte they use.

This has seen 59 per cent paying £24, on average, for using their phone abroad on a single trip.
But one in 20 (four per cent) have ended up with a bill exceeding £120.

The study was commissioned by Sim Local, which has created a tool which allows holidaymakers to find out how much data they will need based on their usage on their travels.

Sarah McGarr, Chief Digital Officer at the travel eSIM provider, said: “Everyone loves jetting off on holiday, but it’s evident people like to keep in touch with what’s going on back home and in the world around them wherever they are, and that they rely on data for all sorts of holiday essentials – from maps to translations to transport.

“So our mobiles really are crucial while abroad.
“But it’s hard to know what you’re going to need your phone for until you reach your destination so it’s easy to be unprepared and not consider how much it might end up costing you.”
The study also found 47 per cent will take the cost ‘on the chin’ as they don’t want to fiddle about with changing sims.

While 32 per cent will endeavour to only use free Wi-Fi on their getaways.

However, 42 per cent have been hit with charges they didn’t anticipate, averaging at £50 in unexpected fees.

Over two-thirds (68 per cent) use their data abroad, despite 31 per cent not being confident they even understand what roaming is.

But 34 per cent of those who use their data abroad wait until they arrive at their destination to see what their network charges them.

And 11 per cent carry on using their phone as normal and pray they don’t get landed with a hefty bill at the end.

The research, conducted via OnePoll, also found 12 per cent of respondents have even ended up forking out for the cost of their child’s roaming charges, at £37.20 on average for a single trip.
But four per cent have footed a bill of more than £100.

While 35 per cent are under the impression they can’t change network providers when travelling abroad.
However, 44 per cent do consider the cost of roaming when deciding which network to go with.
But the same percentage called on providers to give more information on what they charge for using phones abroad – as well as what it actually means.

The research also revealed how much data holidaymakers are using abroad, adding up to 3.7GB a day as typical usage for those who use their data roaming to stream films, TV shows, audio, make internet searches and video calls.

Sarah from Sim Local added: “Our research paints a clear picture – travellers are increasingly perplexed when it comes to understanding the complexities of roaming and data usage abroad.

“With people jetting off more than ever, getting your data plans sorted before you travel is almost as important as remembering to pack your passport.

“Otherwise, the lasting memory of what should have been a highlight of the year, is actually the costly pitfalls you came home to.

“eSIMs are an increasingly popular way to avoid any pitfalls as they allow you to automatically switch between cost-effective mobile networks without replacing your physical SIM card.

“In fact, eSIM use globally is predicted to rise by almost 440% by 2028.”
How much it is in different countries
How much it will cost e.g. per day, per gigabyte etc.
If the cost of sending or receiving texts and calls differs
What it will affect e.g. calls, texts, data or everything
If it’s covered in my plan already
If I need to opt out or will get charged automatically
How much a gigabyte actually equates to in data e.g. streaming a music video

59MB to stream Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department, coming in at 65 minutes, on Spotify just one time
Watching the 90 minutes of action unfold at the UEFA Euro final will use 875MB – including the half-time analysis – and an additional 250MB if it goes to extra-time
Dancing and singing along to Coldplay’s two-hour long headline set at Glastonbury will use 1GB

With the Olympics opening ceremony rumoured to start at 20:24 and conclude at the Eiffel Tower at 23:50, to take in the spectacle along The Seine it will use 1.7GB
If the Wimbledon final reaches a staggering 4 hours and 42 minutes like it did last year, it will use 2.4GB to watch

To learn more about eSIMs, read this helpful guide which explains how an eSIM works and the advantages it offers when travelling abroad.

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