Contract customers get a better deal
The Consumers' Association has warned of the heavy costs paid by pre-pay customers using their mobile phone from abroad.
Pre-pay customers will usually pay much more to make and receive calls abroad than those that pay monthly. according to the Consumers' Association.
Holiday Which magazine found that pre-pay users with Orange are charged double the monthly customers' rates to phone home or receive calls from the UK while on holiday, as a result making a five minute call home from Europe costs £6 rather than £3.
In one case, pre-pay Vodafone users are charged £9.95 for receiving a five minute call from the USA.
Pre-pay v Monthly mobile charges
Cost of five minute call to UK from Europe
O2 £4.75 (Monthly) £7.45 (Prepay)
Orange £1.50 (Monthly) £3 (Pre-pay)
T-Mobile £3.50 (Monthly) £5 (Prepay)
Vodafone £3.75 (Monthly) £3.75 (Pre-pay)
Source: Holiday Which magazine
Industry regulator, Oftel is currently investigating the pre-pay phone charges market.
"The cost of that mobile 'wish you were here' call home has caught out many holidaymakers...If you fail to plan in advance, your tan may turn pale when the bill arrives," Patricia Yates, editor of Holiday Which said.
Instead, the Consumers' Association urges mobile phone users to consider the merits of phone cards. These, they say, offer much cheaper rates - a s low as 7p a minute for a call from France.
However, Holiday Which admits that the convenience of having a mobile abroad can be hard to beat.