Günther Vogelpoel, CEO of Recharge.com
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Prepaid Phone Cards Provide Peace of Mind to Overseas Business Travellers as International Borders Reopen

When travelling overseas, a mobile phone is typically designed to be a lifesaver as opposed to a headache. But new changes to roaming fees could bring a whole new world of pain to people’s bank balances - as well as disrupt one’s peace of mind.

Extortionate mobile phone bills while abroad for work or travel is something of an ongoing battle with consumers. In 2014, an onslaught of absurdly high phone bills incurred from overseas trips provoked over 130,000 consumers to report “bill shock” to Citizens Advice and demands for more transparency in charging rates.

People had taken international trips without knowing about the higher roaming data charges they would face after they used their phones to connect to the internet while overseas. These unplanned and enormous bills sadly drove many consumers into debt.

Subsequently, in 2017, mobile networks in EU countries became legally prohibited from charging customers extra to use their phones in other member countries, preventing holidaymakers from coming home to find bills amounting to thousands of pounds.

However, BT-owned mobile operator EE recently announced that it would begin charging UK customers for using their phones in Europe, even though previously it stated that there were no plans to reintroduce roaming costs post-Brexit.

More specifically, from January, those new to EE or those who upgraded after mid-July will need to pay a daily £2 charge when using their phones in 47 European countries. This is the first UK operator to officially reintroduce such roaming charges.

Industry observers are questioning whether other UK operators might explore similar avenues. O2 has declared that it will impose an extra “fair use” charge should customers have a monthly usage that exceeds 25GB of data.

Up until 2020, UK holidaymakers took over 50 million trips abroad a year, more than for any other travel purpose. Although the pandemic significantly decreased international travel, as vaccination levels rise, so too does the possibility of more borders reopening.

It has never been more critical to have access to a phone when overseas. Whether it’s checking the latest travel restrictions online, calling family back home, or accessing email, a mobile connection has become a necessity.

Prepaid phone cards allow the consumer to have all the comforts of mobile connection without these new potentially exorbitant roaming fees or the commitment of a lengthy contract. With e-sims, people can now easily add a prepaid sim to their usual phone device.

Temporary SIM cards are also increasing in popularity because of how they protect consumer privacy. When travelling in a foreign country, a phone number is often needed to secure hotels, transportation services and restaurant reservations.

Using a temporary SIM lets consumers access these services with a temporary phone number, protecting their primary number from being compromised. This is especially important as the number of identity theft cases more than doubled from the previous one.

Besides identity theft, some people have faced huge bills caused by thieves, sometimes over £10,000, simply from their handset being stolen. Thieves use the handset to run up expensive charges, with the victim left to deal with the consequences.

Prepaid phone cards remove these risks and also enable more financial control. When overseas, and especially if stranded, there will usually be a phone call or website that needs to be accessed, allowing hidden charges to be added by the telephone provider.

A prepaid phone card allows a pre-allocated spend, meaning that at least one portion of the travel budget becomes easier to control and predict. Importantly, there is also the freedom to increase this allocation if necessary.

Services can be trialled - if the hotel wifi is fast, extra data might not be needed from a prepaid card. If more international phone calls are required, additional minutes can be purchased. This is especially important as people resume travel in an uncertain world.

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to make travel unpredictable for everyone involved, there are new demands emerging on travellers and their budgets. Various tests are required before stepping onto the plane, and as rules continue to change on a regular basis, it becomes difficult to gauge in advance how much phone usage might be needed.

If travel arrangements suddenly change due to unexpected restrictions, having a prepaid phone card allows travellers to quickly contact those back home and keep them posted on their plans. Easy and affordable access to reliable mobile and internet coverage means that travellers can tune into the latest developments as well, ensuring that they are prepared for whatever comes their way.


About Recharge.com

Recharge.com is the European leader in online consumer-branded payments. Operating in over 150 markets around the world, the company processes millions of online transactions annually, connecting customers with leading global brands. Through a broad selection of digital vouchers from brands including Apple, Google, Spotify, Xbox and PlayStation alongside cross-border remittances of call, data credits and more, Recharge’s digital platform improves customer outcomes and disrupts traditional players across the globe. Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Amsterdam, Recharge is one of Europe’s fastest-growing technology companies having raised over €30m in primary, secondary and debt transactions from investors such as Prime Ventures, Kreos Capital and Rabobank. Today over 2.5 million people use Recharge to process over €450m of payments every year.

Visit http://company.recharge.com for more details.

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