Three to increase pay-as-you-go roaming charges

The mobile phone operator Three is increasing call and text charges for its pay-as-you-go customers, with some international texts rising from 2p to 35p.

From 16 February, the cost of making a PAYG call will rise to 10p a minute – up from 3p. The cost of sending a text in the UK will jump from 2p to 10p, while the price of using data anywhere rises from 1p to 5p a MB.

While these new prices will apply to calls made in the UK and on Three’s Go Roam service in European countries, the biggest increase will hit those who take their phone outside the continent, where the cost of sending a text will rise from 2p to 35p.

Three says its new rates “remain extremely competitive” and the increases to international roaming rates are to keep prices in line with its new standard rates for using your phone at home, and are not linked to Brexit.

The February increases only affect Three’s PAYG customers who joined the network before March 2020, rather than those on a package/contract.

The fear is that this could be the first of many price rises this year across the industry. Telecoms providers have reported a big loss of revenue over the past 10 months as profitable roaming charges have all but dried up.

A Three spokesperson said: “Our new rates remain extremely competitive in the market, and our customers have access to 5G at no extra cost. Plus, we continue to focus on improving the customer experience through investment in our network, to deliver better connectivity every day for every customer.”

Dan Howdle, a telecoms analyst at, said the price rises, while hefty, would bring Three’s PAYG prices closer to its competitors, such as Vodafone and EE.

“Not many people are still using PAYG sim cards these days, so the impact will not have been as big as it would have been in previous years. Most phone users are now on contracts or bundled deals that they renew each month as this is where the value is,” he said.