Mobile roaming, consumer rights and financial services in the EU
Information for consumers on what changes can be expected now that the UK has left the EU.
Credit card surcharges
EU rules ban retailers from charging customers a fee to use Visa and Mastercard credit or debit cards.
The UK passed its own legislation, meaning the ban will continue to apply for UK purchases after EU Exit.
Banking and bank cards
UK consumers and businesses will continue to be able to make credit transfers and direct debits in euros through the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) schemes.
If you have a UK bank account and are going to use your bank card to pay for goods and services while you are in the EU, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (the European Economic Area), you will be able to continue to do so. However, this may now be more expensive now the UK has left the EU.
This is also the case if you have a bank account with a provider based in the EU or the EEA and want to use your bank card in the UK.
If you have a UK bank account and live in the EU, many UK firms that offer financial services products (for example current accounts, credit cards or mortgages) will still continue offering them to EU customers.
However, if your firm needs to make any changes to your product or the way it provides it, your firm should contact you.
Buying goods and consumer rights
For items or services bought from a business within the UK, your consumer rights are exactly the same as they were before the UK left the EU. European laws designed to protect consumers have already been written into UK legislation.
If the company you are buying from is based in the EU, it is recommended that you check their terms and conditions, complaints process and refunds policy before you buy. The laws that apply to these may be different from UK law.
If you are shopping online and are unsure where the business is based, you should check with the business and read its terms and conditions.
For added protection, make all or part of the payment using your credit card. If a problem occurs with your order (such as a fault or non-delivery), by law the credit card company must help you get your money back.
Using your debit card can also give you protection if you use the card provider’s chargeback process.
Mobile roaming in EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries
The UK has now left the EU. This means that surcharge-free roaming when you travel to EU and EEA countries is no longer guaranteed. This includes employees of UK companies travelling in the EU for business.
A number of mobile operators have stated that they have no current plans to change their mobile roaming policies, however this could change in future.
You should check your mobile operator’s roaming policies before travelling abroad.
The government has legislated to protect consumers from unexpected charges. This makes sure that obligations on mobile operators to apply a financial limit on mobile data usage while abroad is retained in UK law.
The limit has been set at £45.00 per monthly billing period (currently €50.00 under EU law).
This means you cannot continue to use mobile data services when roaming unless you actively chose to continue spending.
The government has also legislated to continue to make sure that consumers receive alerts when they are at 80 per cent and 100 per cent data usage.
If you live in Northern Ireland
The government has passed legislation to make sure that operators continue to make information available to their customers on how to avoid inadvertent roaming in border regions.
Operators will also have to continue to take reasonable steps to protect their customers from paying roaming charges for inadvertently accessing roaming services.
Surcharge-free roaming in the EU, known as 'Roam Like at Home', is underpinned by an EU Roaming Regulation.
This also regulates what mobile operators can charge each other for providing roaming services and extends to the wider European Economic Area (EEA), which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Further information can be found at the following link:
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) will continue to cover customers of UK providers (banks, credit unions, and building societies) operating in the UK.
However, FSCS protections may be affected for UK consumers of European Economic Area (EEA) firms. This will depend on a number of factors, including:
- what type of products (that is, for insurance and deposits the Prudential Regulation Authority is the lead regulator)
- on what basis they can continue to provide services into the UK
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the financial services regulator, has published information which gives an overview on how consumers may be affected by EU exit:
Most people, businesses and other organisations in the UK will see limited, or no, difference.
They will be able to use and rely on their bank accounts, insurance, personal pensions or annuities, and other services whether they are provided by a firm based in the UK, Europe or elsewhere in the world.