Three’s Feel At Home: No Roaming Charges in the USA, Italy & 14 Other Countries

July 1st, 2014

Three has scrapped international roaming charges in sixteen countries. They include the USA, Italy, France, Australia and Republic of Ireland.

ThreeIt’s normally a hugely expensive affair to use your smartphone abroad. Hefty roaming charges for using your mobile can quickly add up to hundred of pounds. This can be a fairly substantial addition to the cost of your family holiday. At present, many people turn off their smartphones to avoid roaming charges.

Three has launched a new roaming package known as Feel At Home. For customers travelling to 16 selected countries, roaming charges have now been scrapped entirely. You can now use UK allowances including the data that comes with your plan (e.g. all-you-can-eat data). You can also call and text home without paying a penny extra. It’s great for sharing your holiday photos (e.g. Instagram and Facebook), finding your way around using Google Maps and staying in touch with your friends at home.

Feel At Home can be used in sixteen countries including Australia, France, Italy, the Republic of Ireland and the United States of America. You’ll need to have a SIM card from Three (this could be a Pay Monthly deal, a SIM only plan or a Pay As You Go SIM card with the All-in-One bundle). If your handset isn’t normally on Three, you can pick up a SIM card to benefit from the offer.

What is Feel At Home?

Feel at HomeFeel At Home is a new roaming offer from Three UK. Customers travelling abroad to 16 selected countries can now use their UK allowances at no extra charge. The offer includes calls, texts and internet. For smartphone owners, this means you can continue using apps, browsing the internet, sending e-mails and updating social networks whilst travelling on holiday.

Feel At Home Countries

The following eleven countries are included in the Feel At Home offer:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Macau
  • Norway
  • Going AbroadRepublic of Ireland
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United States of America

For travellers visiting a country on this list, the potential savings can be quite substantial. Imagine a family taking a trip to Orlando, USA. On rival mobile networks, you’ll pay at least £1/minute for calling home to the UK. A daily phone call home of around five minutes would cost you £35 over just one week. Add in the cost of browsing the internet (around £3/day to £5/day) and each person can easily run up a £70 bill over a one week holiday.

Network Making a Phone Call Receiving a Phone Call Sending a Text Accessing the Internet
EE £1.00/minute £1.00/minute 40p/text £3/day for 20MB
O2 £1.10/minute 90p/minute 40p/text £6 per MB
Orange £1.20/minute £1.20/minute 40p/text £3/day for 20MB
T-Mobile £1.20/minute £1.20/minute 40p/text £3/day for 20MB
Three Included Included Included Included
Vodafone £1.35/minute £1.00/minute 35p/text £5/day per 25MB

Comparison of roaming charges when using your smartphone in the USA. Costs are shown for calling the UK and for sending a text to the UK.

As Feel At Home uses your UK allowances, you won’t be charged one penny extra unless you exceed the allowances included on your plan.

For European countries outside of the Feel At Home offer (e.g. Spain and Portugal), Three has the Euro Internet Pass as a great alternative. £5/day gives you all-you-can-eat data throughout the whole of Europe. Phone calls are 18.8p/minute and texts are 5.9p each.

View SIM Card Offers from Three »

Feel At Home is available on Three’s SIM only plans. It’s also available on Pay As You Go when you buy an “All in One” bundle.

Out of Bundle Charges

If you run out of your inclusive allowances, you’ll pay the following out of bundle rates when travelling in a Feel At Home country:

Calling Rates:
Voice calls to UK 20p/minute (any network, any time)
Voice calls to another country Standard roaming rates (24p/min to £1.40/min)
Receiving voice calls Free
Messaging Rates:
Text message (SMS) to UK 7p
Text message (SMS) to another country Standard roaming rates (8p to 35p)
Picture message (MMS) Standard roaming rates (~36p)
Video message Standard roaming rates (~38p)
Internet Rates:
3G Internet 10p/MB

The out of bundle charges shown in this table are for roaming in a “Feel At Home” country. Source for pricing information: Three.co.uk. For more information and to check the roaming charges specific to a country, refer to Three’s international roaming guide.

If you’re a Pay As You Go customers on the 321 tariff, you won’t have inclusive allowances on your plan. This means you’ll pay the out of bundle charges for all calls, texts and internet made in a Feel At Home country (you can’t use the normal UK rates of 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB). To save money, it’s normally better value to add an All In One bundle. It gives you some inclusive allowances to be used on the Feel At Home offer (see the Three website for more information). All in One 10 gives you 100 minutes, 3000 texts and 500MB of data for £10/month. Meanwhile, All in One 15 has 300 minutes, 3000 texts and all-you-can-eat data.

Limitations & Restrictions

It’s worth being aware that “Feel At Home” has a couple of restrictions. Firstly, tethering isn’t permitted when travelling in a Feel At Home country. Secondly, data usage is restricted to 25GB/month. You’ll be cut off if you use more than this twice in one year (this is highly unlikely for the average user). Finally, there are restrictions in place so you can’t use the service exclusively abroad (Feel At Home is for occasional trips abroad rather than for people living abroad).

Tethering Isn’t Permitted Abroad

Tethering

Tethering is not permitted in Feel At Home countries.

In the UK, customers on The One Plan can use the “portable wi-fi hotspot” feature to share their mobile internet connection with other devices. This is referred to as tethering and is commonly used to connect a tablet or laptop to the internet when away from home.

The Feel At Home offer prohibits you from tethering whilst travelling abroad. This can be found in the terms and conditions for the offer:

Customers cannot use their smartphone as a modem to connect other devices such as laptops and tablets – also known as “tethering”, in the countries listed above.

Three has also added that streaming and accessing VPNs may be slower than if you were in the UK. The speed limitation is unlikely to affect many users under normal day-to-day smartphone usage (e.g. web browsing, e-mail, messaging and apps). However, if you’re watching a number of videos online or attempting to access a secure corporate network, you may notice some speed reductions.

Fair Usage Policy

There’s a fair usage policy when using your allowances abroad. You can use a maximum of 3000 minutes, 5000 texts and 25GB per month. If you exceed the fair usage policy twice in one year, you’ll be blocked from using the Feel At Home service.

Living Abroad

EarthThe Feel At Home offer isn’t designed for people living abroad. You mustn’t use Three exclusively abroad for more than 3 months per year. As long as you use the service in the UK during a given month, it won’t count towards your quota of 3 months per year.

If you’re a frequent traveller, there shouldn’t be a problem using Feel At Home (e.g. people in the UK who frequently visit the Republic of Ireland). Providing you use your phone in the UK at least once a month for 9 or more months of the year, you’ll be fully within the terms of use.

According to Three’s terms and conditions:

This offer is intended to be used by UK residents travelling abroad, and Three reserves the right to suspend the service in the event the UK allowance is used exclusively abroad for three (3) months within a twelve (12) month period.

Alternatives

If you’re travelling to a Feel At Home country, Three’s offer is by far the best deal available on the market. If you’re not a customer of Three, we recommend getting a Pay As You Go SIM card so you can benefit from the offer.

For countries that aren’t part of the Feel At Home offer, you may be able to find cheaper deals elsewhere. For travelling in Europe, our recommended plan is EE Pay As You Go. For £1/day, you get 20MB of data when travelling in Europe (alternatively, £3/day for 100MB of data).

For more information, see our in-depth guide to the best SIM cards for roaming in Europe.

Non-Three Customers: How To Benefit From The Offer

Feel At Home is only available to customers on Three. Customers on other networks can benefit from the offer by picking up a temporary Pay As You Go SIM card for their trip abroad. For £10, you’ll get 100 minutes, 3000 texts and 500MB to use when abroad (lasts for a maximum of 30 days). For £15, you’ll get 300 minutes, 3000 texts and 25GB of data (also with 30 days maximum usage).

Network Minutes Texts Internet Monthly
Cost
Three 100 3,000 500MB £10.00
Three 300 3,000 25GB £15.00

The “All in One” Pay As You Go tariffs can be used with Three’s “Feel At Home” offer. The inclusive minutes, texts and internet can be used abroad in any “Feel At Home” country. The £15 bundle has a fair usage policy of 25GB/month when in a “Feel At Home” country.

Three will assign you with a new UK-based phone number. To continue receiving calls on your existing number, you can set up call forwarding to your new number. Most networks won’t charge you extra for forwarding your calls to Three. Please note: you might need to unlock your smartphone before using a Three SIM card.

Note: if you’re looking for something longer term, consider getting a SIM Only contract. Tariffs start from £7/month and include use of the Feel At Home offer.

Switching to Three: Keeping Your Phone Number

Transfer Phone Number to Three

Customers on another network can bring their phone number to Three.

If you’re joining Three to take advantage of the Feel At Home offer, it’s a straightforward process to keep your old phone number.

Start by asking your existing mobile network to issue you with a PAC Code. When your new phone or SIM card arrives from Three, fill out the form here on Three’s website. After you’ve provided the PAC Code to Three, they’ll schedule the transfer of your phone number for the next working day. In the meantime, you’ll continue receiving service on your old mobile network.

For step-by-step instructions on transferring a phone number to Three, please select your current mobile network:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Three

Your current network provider:

  More Options

If you’re only using Three on a temporary basis, it’s best to set up call forwarding on your existing number rather than transferring your phone number entirely.

More Information

For more information on the “Feel At Home” offer, please refer to the Three website. You should also refer to the terms and conditions of the offer.

    

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About Ken

Ken Lo

I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.

Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 18 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Christine Carmen said:

    Hi -I have a pay monthly contract with 3 and have done for about 10 years. Is this new deal – Feel At Home – a new deal for new contracts or do we automatically qualify( I have a HTC android phone).
    Do I need to go to my local 3 store for them to activate my mobile or can I use it when I get to anyone of the free countries.

    Thank you.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Christine,
      As far as I’m aware, the Feel At Home offer is available to all customers on Three (providing you have international roaming enabled). There shouldn’t be a problem with older plans and there’s no need to activate the offer (it’s done automatically). You can check the prices when arriving in the other country: you’ll automatically get a text message from Three confirming all the prices.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  2. Gus said:

    Just used in France, worked fine for navigation and light web use. Also, they activated it straight away, perhaps because I’m on a contract, not PAYG. I was wondering whether calls to UK mobiles where the mobile you are calling is also abroad are included?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Gus,
      Feel at Home is activated immediately for most customers on Three (both on Pay Monthly contract and Pay As You Go). The only exception is for SIM Only plans (in which case you’ll need to wait for a month).
      With regards to calling another UK mobile which is also used abroad, yep – they are included in the Feel At Home offer! You’ll always pay the same amount to call a UK mobile number (regardless of if the other person is in the UK or roaming abroad). Any extra charges are billed to the recipient (hence why you often need to pay to receive a phone call when travelling abroad).
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  3. David O said:

    Like many people , I have wondered about these free calls. A friend was on one free call abroad and ended up on another carrier. Also not to sure how this works -do you just call from your phone using the international dial code and the direct number and hey presto it works. Must admit I have always used International Sim cards from the likes of Telestial or Go Sim and these have worked fine and there is not contract. Will see how popular the uptake is after the 3′S TV ads and also can u still get a good signal?

  4. Tony Harrison said:

    I found your interesting & useful site very recently, much to chew over. I’ve been looking for the best options re using a mobile in France where I spend a few weeks each year. This “free roaming” from Three looked really good – but nowhere in your review, or AFAICS on Three’s site, does it say “free” doesn’t include making calls within one’s destination country…
    I don’t know about others’ needs but this is always fundamental for me! I visited a Three shop today, specifically to get a PAYG SIM to try out on an old phone. But apart from educating me about this shortcoming, the guy couldn’t advise me about unlocking my old Blackberry to use in France; the EE shop nearby were similarly hopeless about unlocking, declining to reduce their exorbitant charge even though I’m an Orange customer of 15 years’ standing…
    Probably my best bet is to buy a local SIM when in France.
    rgds Tony

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Tony,
      Thanks for the kind comments and for your feedback on the Feel At Home offer! You’re right: Three’s offer is only for people calling back to the UK (you would still need to pay when calling a French number). The good news is it’s reasonably affordable: 18.8p/minute to call a French number using your UK SIM card (it’s probably comparable to using a local French SIM card). At the end of the day though, it would really depend on how many calls you’re making to each country. If you’re mainly calling people in France then the French local SIM card will offer better value (don’t forget to factor in the costs of calling back to the UK). If you’re mainly calling people in the UK then Three’s offer is likely to work out a lot cheaper.
      Ken

      1. Tony Harrison replied:

        Agreed Ken, perfectly true that one has to balance the amount of local calls against those back to UK… My concern is that needing to make local calls within France, even if the number of such calls is comparatively limited, immediately gets expensive with Orange/EE’s inflated roaming charges – and even at the sort of acceptable rates by Three which you cite one has to be careful. (I’ve just confirmed with Three those figures.)
        I’ll continue to explore using a Three PAYG SIM-only deal since it still sounds attractive, and far preferable to Orange/EE. For fifteen quid it seems I can have 30 days’ unlimited data, plus lots of talk/SMS minutes.
        rgds Tony

    2. Jonathan replied:

      Tony, a dual sim phone could be useful for you if your travelling. It wasn’t until a few years I picked one up before three’s offer for when in Ireland. Just being able to receive calls from local Sims was a blessing without being charged.

      1. Tony Harrison replied:

        Jonathan, thanks – your advice was echoed by the Three guy I spoke to. I wasn’t aware of “dual-SIM” phones but they sound clever. However, I was at first proposing to use my old Blackberry in France as a 2nd phone – then realised that I could just get my iPhone 4S unlocked and stick another SIM in it for France…
        The iPhone is so very much better and it’s what I’m used to – really don’t want/need to get an additional phone.
        Currently comparing French providers’ SIM-only PAYG deals with Three – lots to be said for the latter since they offer a generous package at modest cost, and my French isn’t good enough to understand the fine print on French websites, or in phone shops over there.
        rgds Tony

        1. Jonathan replied:

          Yea that’s a good way to go. I think for iphone you can get devices that also allow dual Sims for a couple quid. I don’t have one so i never investigated and it was quite a few years ago. Might be something else to investigate for next time

  5. Ruth said:

    I may have just missed seeing it above, but two important points to be aware of for anybody wanting to use a Three SIM on an imminent trip, or to switch to one specially for travelling. Firstly, international roaming of any kind cannot be activated until 30 days after joining Three (it was discovering this that led to me delaying a switch to Three until after I returned from a recent trip). Secondly, it does require activation (by calling customer services – can’t be done online) otherwise the SIM will simply not work outside the UK. Once activated, the settings can be tweaked online.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Ruth,
      A great point – thank you! The SIM Only deals are good for roaming providing you order it at least 30 days before you depart (so as to give Three a bit of time to activate roaming on your SIM card). For an imminent trip, Pay As You Go should do the job as roaming is activated immediately.
      Ken

  6. Jonathan said:

    Same here, i use mine in Ireland all the time. Itll be interesting to see how the drive in europe for cheaper to the point of zero roaming charges effects this.

  7. Fred said:

    The USA is hardly “a country people rarely travel to”. I spend a damn sight more time there than in France. This deal is basically the reason I am now a Three customer.

  8. Paul said:

    What a joke! Free for countries people rarely travel to, France will never be free, three like to rip people off, as it’s the most likely destination for Brits, I’m ending my three contract purely on the principle, I’ve been with three for 10 years roughly, now this will make me leave, it’s wrong.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Paul,
      It is a shame that only a few countries are currently part of the “Feel At Home” scheme. When Three first launched “Feel at Home” back in August 2013, it only covered countries where Three has their own local network (Austria, Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Italy, the Republic of Ireland and Sweden). I can see the rationale behind this: it’s much easier for Three to negotiate with other networks when they’re part of the same group (Hutchinson Whampoa). Only in December did they begin to add some extra countries such as the USA where Three doesn’t have their own network. I hope the scheme continues to expand over time – though in my opinion they do deserve applause for launching such an offer.
      Ken

    2. 011manager replied:

      Egg on face… Three have just added France to the growing list of Feel at Home countries!!
      http://blog.three.co.uk/2014/06/05/say-au-revoir-roaming/

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