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Roaming in Turkey: Guide for UK Travelers in 2024

Turkey is outside of the EU, so prepare before you travel to avoid high cost of roaming in Turkey for UK travelers. Here's how to do it.

katarina

June 19, 2024

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Magical Istanbul, cuisine and sweets out of this world, beautiful seaside, and the magnificent hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia. These are just some of the long list of reasons why you should visit Turkey (it’s officially Turkiye now). However, don’t let roaming in Turkey drain all your pocket money – the money you could spend on Turkish delight and baklava! 

Here’s a guide on how to navigate data roaming in Turkey as a traveler from the UK.

Turkey Roaming: How Does It Work for UK Travelers?

Turkey roaming works for UK travelers, but they must prepare to pay higher data roaming charges than what they are used to when traveling within the EU. 

Major UK mobile networks usually have several price tiers for different groups of countries. These are different for every network operator, but EU countries usually have roaming fees closest to domestic fees. Second—and sometimes third-tiers typically exist, and roaming charges are the highest in those countries.

Turkey is not in the EU, so roaming in Turkey is not the cheapest mobile roaming available. Sometimes, the roaming costs depend on the type of package you have with your provider. 

Therefore, travelers from the UK should check with their network provider to get the most precise information about the Turkey roaming prices and conditions. 

In this article, we’ll give you a detailed overview of the Turkey roaming costs for different mobile carriers.

Roaming Charges in Turkey for UK Users

UK mobile operators have different ways of charging their users for international data roaming. In this section, we’ll compare roaming charges, plans, data allowance, and more. Look into these when choosing a local SIM card for roaming in Turkey. Let’s look into O2, EE, Vodafone, and Three. 

O2 Roaming in Turkey 

02 uk home page website
Source: O2 UK home page

If you are using O2 as your provider in the UK, there are several ways to be charged for roaming in Turkey. Here are the plans and payment models.

O2 Travel Bolt On 

This option is sometimes included in O2 plans, and sometimes you must purchase it. You must sign into your O2 and check if you already have it. If you don’t, you can add it to your plan. In that case, you’ll pay 6 GBP per day. For that price, you will get unlimited minutes, text messages, and mobile data in 63 destinations outside Europe. Here are some important things worth noting:

  • Unlimited calls are between the UK and your destination only. Other international calls are charged as standard roaming calls.
  • You only pay for days that use your Travel Bolt On. One day is counted as 24 hours from the first usage. The first usage includes you making calls, sending text, or using mobile data. If you receive calls or texts, it doesn’t trigger you to Travel Bolt On.
  • The speed of your data usage is capped at 2 Mbps
  • If you have a Spend Cap, the price for Travel Bolt On won’t be included. 

Pay-As-You-Go users can also use O2 Travel Bolt On for £1.99 a day in selected destinations.

Monthly Plans Without Travel Bolt On Pay-As-You-Go

Both of these groups of users are paying the standard rate. All the roaming charges are listed in GBP.

Calls2 per minute
Texts0.50 per text
Data roaming7.20 per MB

Data Roaming Bundles

These bundles are available to people on the new billing system. You can activate them through your O2 app or by requesting a link when you land. The costs you can expect are:

100 MB18 GBP
500 MB26 GBP
1 GB45 GBP

Remember that all the plans and additions are under the Roaming Fair Use Policy. It is a part of O2 Terms and Conditions.

EE Roaming in Turkey 

EE has two types of users: those who pay monthly and their Pay-As-You-Go customers. 

If you are an EE customer, they advise you to prepare your mobile phone for roaming services. For both types of customers, this means setting your mobile phone for automatic network selection and turning off the Wi Fi Calling option if you want to avoid being charged at the EE’s standard international rates.

ee UK home page website
Source: EE UK mobile carrier home page

Talking about rates, let’s check what they are for different types of users.

Roaming in Turkey for Users with Monthly Plans

Before roaming, you need to set up your device. To do so, send a free text message ROAMING to 150. After that, you need to enable roaming and check your Spend Cap. If your Spend Cap isn’t covering your daily roaming data usage, you might not have access to your services. Once your roaming is all set up, these are the costs that you’re looking at:

ServicePrice in GBP
Calls / Voice call2.52 per minute
Texts0.82 per text / 0.89 per picture message
Data roaming costs for Turkey8.45 a day for 500 MB

As for mobile roaming in Turkey, you will need a Travel Data Pass. You activate this service, by texting TRAVEL at 150. You will only pay when you use data roaming. Since you have a daily cap, you won’t overspend. If you need to add more data, you can top it up, as well. If you want to disable roaming data, you can text STOP TRAVEL at 150, but it’s not necessary as it will stay dormant as soon as you return to the UK.

Turkey Roaming for Pay-As-You-Go Customers

ServicePrice in GBP
Calls / Voice call1.80 per minute
Texts0.60 per text / 0.48 per picture message
Data roaming costs for Turkey8.45 a day for 500 MB

Vodafone Roaming in Turkey

home page of the vodafone uk mobile carrier
Source: Vodafone UK home page

Vodafone classifies roaming countries into five groups: Zones A, B, C, D, and the rest of the World destinations. Turkey belongs to Zone C. Here are the roaming costs you can expect for Pay Monthly, Pay as You Go, and Pay as You Go Plus users.

Monthly Payment Roaming Charges

If your plan already includes data roaming at 83 destinations (check with your My Vodafone app), up to 25 GB of data roaming will be included in your monthly plan. If not, roaming charges will be 7.39 GBP on top of your usual monthly plan fees. This will include calls, texts, and up to 25 GB of mobile data.

There are some conditions to be aware of:

  • You can expect 4G in Turkey and Northern Cyprus
  • Under these conditions, a day starts from the moment roaming is detected and ends 24 hours after that moment.
  • Receiving standard calls and texts is free

Pay-As-You-Go Roaming Charges

These are the Turkey roaming charges for these types of users:

ServicePrice in GBP
Calls / receive calls0.60 per minute / 0.36 per minute
Texts0.08 per text / 0.66 per picture message
Data roaming costs for Turkey0.12 per MB

There are also Vodafone Extras for those who want to save money on their Turkey roaming costs. 

ExtraAllowancePriceValidity
8-day Around the World Extra2 GB100 minutes100 texts15 GBP8 days or when all allowance is used up
8-day Around the World Extra100 minutes6 GBP8 days or when all allowance is used up
8-day Around the World Extra2 GB7 GBP8 days or when all allowance is used up
8-day Around the World Extra100 texts5 GBP8 days or when all allowance is used up
15-day Around the World Extra4 GB200 minutes200 texts25 GBP15 days or when all allowance is used up

Pay as You Go Plus plan users have to buy an Extra to stay connected while abroad, and they also need to use it if they want to make calls or text from the UK to other countries. The prices are the same as in the table above.

Three Roaming in Turkey

three uk home page website
Source: Three UK home page

Three also has two types of users: Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go. This carrier has the same prices for both types of customers.

Generally, some of the charges may differ if you started your plan before or after 1 October 2021. However, in the case of Turkey roaming, this doesn’t matter, as the prices are the same. The same goes for Advanced, Basic, or Three Your Way plans.

Pay Monthly Turkey Roaming Cost

ServicePrice in GBP
Outgoing calls / Voicemail1.4 per minute
Incoming call0.99 per minute
Texts0.35 per text 
Data roaming costs for Turkey3 per MB

There is no extra charge for receiving an SMS.

However, some changes are expected. From June 26th, 2024, all those who joined or upgraded to Pay Monthly on or after October 1st, 2021, will be able to use Go Roam Around the World Extra. Turkey roaming will also be covered by this. This means that you will be able to use your UK allowance in one of these ways:

  • Daily roaming charge (7 GBP)
  • Extra passes (3-day, 7-day, 14-day)
  • Daily Go Roam Passes that might even be included in your plan.

These calling, texting, and mobile data roaming charges are subject to fair usage. 

three uk fair usage table
Source: Three UK

Comparison of Rates Between Operators

Let’s sum up the prices and rates between operators and the cost of using your local SIM in Turkey for roaming.

O2EEVodafoneThree
Calls / Voicemail2 per min2.52 per min0.60 per min/ 0.36 per minOutgoing: 1.4 per minIncoming: 0.99 per min
Texts0.50 per text0.82 per text / 0.89 per picture message0.08 per text / 0.66 per picture message0.35 per text 
Data7.20 per MB8.45 a day for 500 MB0.12 per MB3 per MB
OtherThe O2 Travel Bolt On is a daily add-on for £6 that provides unlimited minutes, texts, and mobile data in 63 destinations outside Europe, with data speed capped at 2 Mbps.Pay as You Go customers have different prices:1.80 per minute0.60 per text / 0.48 per picture message
Monthly paying customers: If your plan includes data roaming, you get up to 25 GB of data; otherwise, roaming costs £7.39, including calls, texts, and up to 25 GB of data.Prices will change for some users in June 2024 with the introduction of new Go Roam Around the World Extra

How to Avoid Roaming Charges in Turkey?

If you want to ditch roaming charges and disable roaming on your phone, there are some alternatives. Of course, many hotels and cafes offer free Wi-Fi. However, relying on free Internet abroad is not convenient if you want to stay connected. Here are some other ways to use your phone, send texts, and use an internet connection while traveling abroad.

eSIM with Unlimited Data for Turkey

The most convenient way to get a reliable internet connection while traveling is to buy an eSIM with unlimited data for Turkey

An eSIM is a virtual SIM card. All eSIM-compatible phones have a SIM-like chip already installed. When you buy an eSIM, the mobile provider remotely programs it so that you can use it freely. The purchase process is super simple.

  1. You pick and purchase your eSIM online
  2. Your provider sends you a QR code to scan
  3. Once you scan the code, your eSIM is ready to use.

This is a practical and secure process, so much so that the new iPhone models don’t even include a traditional SIM card and use eSIM exclusively. Don’t worry about your old SIM. Your eSIM won’t influence it. Think of it as a dual SIM option.

Holafly is one of the most prominent eSIM providers on the market. Here, you can purchase a variety of Turkey roaming plans.

holafly esim for turkey unlimited data offer
Source: Holafly eSIM for Turkey

Here’s what you need to know about these plans and Holafly:

  • All Holafly plans for Turkey roaming offer unlimited data
  • We have 24/7 customer support available
  • Holafly is rated 4.7 on Trustpilot based on +38 000 reviews
  • Installation and activation are done within minutes
  • This eSIM doesn’t allow you to make calls or send texts. You ca only use it for data.

Buy a Local Turkish SIM Card

If you decide to buy a local Turkish SIM card, don’t do it at the airport. You will not get the best deal there. It’s better to find a well-known company and go to its retail stores. Never buy a SIM card in Turkey if it’s not from renowned local mobile carriers. Scams are common

Prepare your passport and look for one of these:

  • Turkcell
  • Vodafone Turkey
  • Turk Telekom

Be prepared that not many people in Turkey speak fluent English and that you might encounter a language barrier. Apps leave much to be desired, and little is translated into English. Also, after 120 days, your Turkish SIM will be deactivated.  

Rent a Pocket WiFi

Given their price and the inconvenience that might occur in getting one, renting a pocket Wi Fi in Turkey seems to pay off only if you’re staying there for a long time and you need a constant wireless Internet connection on many devices. Here are some pros and cons:

Pros

  • Easy to carry and use anywhere in Turkey.
  • Often offers unlimited data plans, avoiding overage charges.
  • Can connect several devices simultaneously.
  • Reliable connection compared to some local SIM cards.
  • Available for rent from various companies with flexible plans.

Cons

  • Rental fees and delivery charges can be high.
  • Data speeds may be capped or slow, especially on unlimited plans.
  • High charges for lost or damaged devices.
  • Delivery costs and times can vary, adding to the complexity.
  • Limited battery life requires frequent recharging.

Use Free WiFi Networks

You can find free Wi Fi in hotels, restaurants, and cafes in Turkey. However, using an open network is never the best idea because the risk of your personal information being stolen is too high. 

Additionally, while bigger cities in Turkey, like Istanbul, will be fairly well covered with Wi Fi, that’s not the case for the rest of the country. Relying on public Wi Fi in a foreign country, especially in remote areas, is not advisable. 

Holafly eSIM vs. Turkey Data Roaming

Let’s compare Holafly eSIM with unlimited data for Turkey and the roaming services offered by the UK’s most widely used mobile carriers.

Holafly eSIMTurkey roaming
Price rangeFrom $6 for one dayFrom 8.45 GBP or Paid per MB used
Data sharingYes Some providers
Unlimited data Yes No
Calls/textsNoIncluded
Easy to set up roamingYesSometimes
RefundAvailableComplicated or non-existent

Verdict

Holafly’s unlimited data eSIM is an excellent option for UK travellers visiting Turkey. It offers seamless connectivity for a flat rate, providing an affordable alternative to traditional roaming charges, which can be as high as £7.20 per MB with some UK carriers. 

Holafly’s eSIM allows easy setup via a QR code that takes minutes. With it’s unlimited data, you don’t have to run around hunting down free Wi Fi.  Unlike local SIM cards, which often require registration, can be expensive, and have language barriers, Holafly’s eSIM is hassle-free and cost-effective. Holafly is dependable for travelers and has 24/7 customer support and a high Trustpilot rating.

FAQ About Data Roaming in Turkey

Is data roaming free in Turkey?

No. Data roaming is not free in Turkey. Turkey is not a part of the EU, so you can expect an extra charge for using your phone there. Check with your mobile provider to learn the roaming cost for your specific plan.

Is roaming free in Turkey with Vodafone?

No. Roaming is not free in Turkey with Vodafone. Due to EU regulations, Vodafone users still have favorable roaming charges for EU countries, but Turkey is not part of the EU.

Can I still use my phone in Turkey?

Yes, you can still use your phone in Turkey. However, be aware of all the extra costs that may occur when using your phone to stay connected in a non-EU country. Also, check with your provider if your phone will even work if you disable roaming.