• Virgin Media O2 saved customers an estimated £3 million per week in European roaming charges throughout 2022, as O2 remains the only major UK provider to offer inclusive EU roaming as standard 
  • A quarter of Brits don’t realise they may need to pay additional mobile fees in Europe, which could cost the average family of four an extra £100 for a two-week trip 
  • As well as roaming charges, holiday-going Brits are infuriated by the fees charged to use their credit cards abroad and the cost of choosing a seat on the airplane 

As the only major UK mobile provider to offer all its customers inclusive EU roaming as standard, new research from Virgin Media O2 reveals Britons’ biggest bugbears when it comes to unwanted holiday charges, with an estimated £3 million a week saving for O2 customers in 2022. 

A year on from committing to not reintroduce European roaming fees, Virgin Media O2 has marked the occasion by revealing Brits’ biggest pain points around hidden holiday fees. Topping the list for cost conscious Brits is having to pay commission to use their credit card abroad, which 39% of people object to, followed by being charged to use their mobile while roaming (35%). Other bugbears include having to pay to choose a seat on an airplane and forking out for extra baggage charges. 

According to the survey, a quarter of Brits aren’t aware they may need to pay additional fees for using their mobile while on holiday in Europe. This comes despite 70% saying that connectivity is “important” whilst abroad, with Brits most commonly using their mobile while away to stay connected to friends and family (52%), find their way around (37%), book restaurants (26%), and make sure their social media accounts are up to date (21%). 

Half of Brits (50%) also think it’s unfair to pay additional charges for using their mobile whilst abroad in Europe. 

Britons’ biggest bugbear bills abroad include: 

  1. Credit card commission (39%)
  2. Roaming fees (35%) 
  3. Paying to choose a seat on the airplane (35%) 
  4. Currency exchange commission (29%) 
  5. Extra baggage charges (29%) 
  6. Sunbed and umbrella fees (24%) 
  7. Holiday insurance (13%) 

Looking at the most popular European destinations for British tourists last year, anonymised O2 Motion data suggests that Spain, France and Italy top the ranking. Spain is clearly Brits’ favourite European destination, enticing almost double the UK crowd volumes of France and more than 2.3 times that of Italy:  

  1. Spain
  2. France
  3. Italy
  4. Greece
  5. Portugal
  6. Poland 
  7. Germany
  8. The Netherlands 
  9. Cyprus 
  10. Croatia 

As the only major mobile network in the UK to still offer inclusive EU roaming as standard, Virgin Media O2 customers can travel to destinations all over Europe and use their data, calls and texts just as they would in the UK saving them up to £100 in potentially unexpected costs over a two-week trip.  

Since taking this decision, Virgin Media O2 has calculated an estimated £3 million a week saving for O2 customers in 2022, based on fees charged by other operators and new anonymised, aggregated movement data collected by O2 Motion – which uses connections to mobile masts to gain insight into crowd movement trends. 

Given the opportunity to spend an extra £100 on their holiday, more than half of Brits (51%) said they’d treat the family to a nice meal out. Just under a fifth (19%) would update their holiday wardrobe or indulge in an extra cocktail by the pool. 

Gareth Turpin, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “We know that many people will be cost conscious when going on holiday this year, so we’re proud to stand out as the only major mobile provider to continue offering inclusive EU roaming, already saving our customers money and providing more value to those travelling post-pandemic. Whilst we’re not able to remove fees on sunbeds and airplane seats, hopefully not having to worry about roaming fees will upgrade the holiday experience for our customers – whether it is treating themselves to a nice meal or splashing out and ordering that extra cocktail by the pool.” 




Notes to Editors: 

  • O2 Motion data was captured from the beginning of January to the end of November 2022 inclusive. All estimates based on average £2 per day roaming charge with alternative mobile network operators. Figures calculated by multiplying average number of visitors to top 10 EU destinations based on volumes of anonymised movement data with average roaming charges for other mobile network providers. 
  • Analysis of daily charge rates from other providers suggests that a family of four going abroad for two weeks could see £100 or more added to their holiday bill when using their phones each day. 
  • Consumer tariffs: inclusive EU roaming up to 25GB where allowance is 25GB or more. See o2.co.uk/terms. Business tariffs: Customers on O2 Unlimited Data business tariffs will be charged if their usage exceeds 35GB in O2’s Europe Zone. For more details please see: https://www.o2.co.uk/termsandconditions/business/o2-business-fair-usage-policy-2018 
Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on:
press@virginmediao2.co.uk 01753 565656
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