17/05/2012 16:49 | By Verity Burns, editor, MSN Tech & Gadgets

Huge mobile roaming charges could hit football fans heading to Euro 2012

EU legislation to cap roaming charges does not cover the non-EU countries, like Ukraine. So how can you be sure you don't get stung? Check out our top tips.


Roaming charges could cripple football fans going to the Euros (© EyesWideOpen; Getty Images News; Getty Images)

If you're considering heading out to the Euro 2012 Championships in Ukraine next month, you might want to think before you pick up the phone to call home.

While even stricter measures are being brought in across the Eurozone to cap roaming charges and keep bills when abroad reasonable, Ukraine and any other countries outside the EU are not covered by this legislation, meaning you could get stung.

Research from uSwitch.com on average costs across the five major networks found that even the most careful phone user could find themselves with a sizeable bill - using your phone in Ukraine to make and receive two five minute phone calls per day, listen to a two minute voicemail message, send five texts and one picture message would run up an average bill of £35 a day.

Of course, that's before you even get into Facebook status updates, data-sucking apps and email checking. Just 1MB of mobile internet data, enough to watch a two minute YouTube clip or load around five graphic-heavy web pages, costs an average of £6.10.

Spread these costs over the nine days when England play their pool matches - and even longer if you stay on until the finals - and you could be looking at quite a nasty surprise when you get home.

So, other than leave your phone at home, how can you get around these rip off roaming charges? We've put together five tips to help you dodge a huge bill:

- First off, check with your network to find out if they offer any discounted international bundles. For example, Vodafone offers a Data Traveller package that'll give you 25MB of data for £5 a day and Orange offers a 30% discount on call and text charges for £5.10 upfront. Orange also offers a 10MB or 50MB data bundle for us abroad, including the Ukraine for £15.32 and £61.27 respectively.

- Try to use wi-fi networks where you can. Your hotel may well have a free one you can use, or there may be a small fee to use it. Much better than paying data charges to your network.

- When out and about, keep your data roaming switched off. Many apps keep using data in the background without you knowing, so turning this off will ensure they can't. This option can usually be found in the settings on your phone's network settings menu, but your operator will be able to help you find it on your handset if you're struggling.

- Call your network operator before you leave and put a cap on your account (O2 and Vodafone do this automatically, but it's only on data and worth checking it's an amount you're happy paying). You may hit it in the first day, but at least you'll know your bill is something you're comfortable paying.

- Buy an international pay as you go SIM card like Lycamobile's Toggle. It works in 100 countries, including Ukraine, and can reduce roaming charges by up to 90%. It allows you to receive free incoming calls and make international calls at a local rate, rather than a roaming rate. It does this by taking on a local number at the destination you're at, and can store up to nine of these local numbers on the SIM for you to switch between as and when you wish. And because it's pay as you go, you can top it up with however much you want as and when.

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