Bolt-on billing means O2 customers can't roam around the world

It's top tip time, particularly if you're an O2 pay-monthly customer travelling abroad and hoping to dodge outrageous data tariffs with a bolt-on. No, this is a proper top tip. What do you mean, not like the last one? Your koi carp pond stayed ice free by pouring enough table salt in, didn't it? Shut up then.

O2 offers to two bolt-ons to travellers:

  • Data Abroad 10, which costs £20 per month for 10MB of data to use overseas
  • Data Abroad 50, which costs £50 per month for 50MB of data to use overseas

Both can be added for just one month, although if you want to use the service for longer you'll have to give 30 days notice. So far so good. But avid Bitterwallet ready Tony points out it's not so clear cut, especially if you want to add a bolt-on at short notice:

I'm going to Spain for a week in a couple of days and need roaming data, so yesterday I phoned O2 to order their Data Abroad 50 Bolt-On. No problem said the operator, I could add the Bolt-On to my account, but because my billing date was in a fortnight's time, I'd only receive about half the data allowance.

Billing for the bolt-on is done proportionally - I would only receive two week's allowance before the billing date - around 25MB - and the second half the following month. If I went over my 25MB while in Spain, I'd be charged at their standard rate for European roaming data  - £3 per MB.

And naturally I'd still be charged the full amount for half the data, but in two installments over the next two bills. 25 MB for £50 is still cheaper than O2's standard rates, but I still feel like I've been mugged.

We spoke to O2 Customer Services and Tony isn't wrong, so the moral of the story is if you want roaming tariffs abroad, call O2 well before you travel to discuss it, or you might get screwed over by their proportional billing shenanigans.


  • The B.
    Seriously, 10MB for £10? And you think it's a bargain? What's that, 2 x 128kbps mp3's or 1.5 10Mp photos, wow.
  • Paul S.
    It's not a bargain at all, Bob - it's on a par with racketeering - but go to the States or elsewhere in the world and 10MB will set you back £60 on O2. Smart people don't turn their data on, but some folk need to.
  • Lou
    Smart people don't turn their data on, unless they're travelling on expenses. The rest of us have to suck up the cost or live without web and mail whilst on holiday. Doesn't sound so bad actually.
  • The B.
    As you say, I turn it off on my personal phone, but I take my work Blackberry, thankfully no one ever questions roaming charges.
  • Apple H.
    If you want a deal and have a Blackberry, o2 offer unlimited Blackberry internet abroad for £23.50 a month! You guys seriously need to stop being so biased on your website! How apple didn't make the Most Hated company of 2009 is beyond me!!! Iphone is the ONLY contract phone with a 12 month warranty and that being said the water sensors are on the outside of the phone so water doesn't even need to reach INSIDE the phone for it to be deemed water damaged! So please do some research before you do your biased opinons!
  • Paul S.
    Tony didn't say he owned an iPhone so why bring it up? There are plenty of other mobiles that eat up data charges too, so the advice to check bear billing dates in mind when buying data bundles is pretty sound.
  • no t.
    My name explains it all basicaly, no-one is called Tony lol jokes on you hopefully not on me unless you're talking about the tiger who says "GRRRREEEAAATTT!"

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