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Roaming: In which countries can I use my Austrian mobile without being charged?

The Local Austria
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Roaming: In which countries can I use my Austrian mobile without being charged?

Understanding where and when you can use your Austrian mobile abroad without paying extra roaming charges can help save you from surprise fees.

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The plane touches down and the seatbelt sign switches off. The first thing many people do after a flight is turn on their phones.

Usually when arriving in a new country, your phone will receive a few text messages: one from your network provider telling you about any possible charges, and another welcoming you to the local network with some information on their charges and rates.

Most people ignore these messages. And though in 2023 you can largely rely on WIFI and WhatsApp to communicate, depending on where you are using your phone abroad can lead to a nasty surprise on your next bill.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which is the best mobile phone provider in Austria?

So, can I use my Austrian mobile abroad without being charged?

EU countries

The answer is, it depends. In short: in the EU, yes. Outside the EU, probably not.

If you're travelling within the EU, you'll almost certainly not charged extra roaming costs. If it's outside the EU, it depends on your network provider as in most countries the roaming charges vary on a company by company basis. It's always best to check before travelling if you're in doubt.

However, due to EU legislation from 2017, you can use your Austrian mobile phone in any EU country without incurring any extra costs.

That includes: Austria itself, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden.

As Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein are members of the European Economic Area (EEA), you will also be able to use your Austrian phone for free there too.

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Roaming charges in the UK post-Brexit

Obviously, since the UK left the EU it is no longer part of the free roaming arrangement. As such, phone companies choose on an individual company basis whether they want to apply roaming charges.

Of the main mobile networks in Austria, only Magenta continues to offer free roaming for the UK.

Austrian market leader A1 has been charging particularly high roaming fees for the UK since 2021, with €1.99 for only 100 kilobytes of data and €2.99 per minute on phone calls. It does, however, offer certain packages that can reduce these overall rates.

Drei Austria - or 'Three' - charges roaming in the UK, but at a significantly lower rate. They're charging €60 for a gigabyte of data, six cents a minute for calling and three cents per text.

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What about the US?

Austrian carriers generally offer special tariffs with data bonuses that can be purchased if you are travelling to the US. It's always best to check with your company before flying. Some packages can be activated the moment you switch on your phone in the US.

Here too, A1 is a particularly expensive option, with a monthly package containing 750 MB of roaming data setting you back almost a full €200.

Both other major networks offer prices that are considerably cheaper.

What is the maximum time I can stay in another country while roaming for free?

The EU Commission legislation states that in order to pay for calls, messages and data usage at the same price as in your home country (ie, not be charged any extra roaming costs) you must use the mobile phone for a longer period in your country than abroad.

Note that phone operators can track data consumption and roaming that their customers have used in the last four months. If during this time you have used more mobile services abroad in another EU country rather than in your home country, operators could legally apply small extra charges.

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Comments (1)

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Ken 2023/10/25 19:13
Some notes: Hot (the SIM card offered by Hofer) includes low roaming charges in the UK but horrendously expensive roaming if you step one foot outside the EU. Another option for the US is to buy a prepaid SIM card for the US (available from Amazon, etc.). These are around $50 for around 40GB data and near unlimited texts/calls.

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