By Marcus Leach

Using tablet devices such as iPads while travelling overseas, can be as much as 1,000 times more costly than in the UK, warns Which?

Data use such as checking emails, watching videos and downloading music on a tablet device can cost as little as £7.50 a month in the UK for a GB of data, but the consumer champion has found that equivalent use could cost Britons travelling abroad several thousand pounds.

It would take several hours of watching video online to run up such astronomical charges, but simply using GPS to get around, browsing the internet, or checking emails could lead to a bill of several hundred pounds. What’s more, smart phone and tablet users could find their devices racking up big bills without them knowing it as they access the net to carry out automatic updates.

Although data charges are limited to around £40 in the EU due to an automatic bill-cut off required by EC regulation, and some operators have caps for use further afield, others don’t have a limit on how big a bill a customer can rack up.

Which? found that using your mobile phone to make and receive calls, send texts and browse the web while abroad can be extremely costly too. Unlike within the UK, mobile users must pay to receive calls as well as to make them. Prices are capped in the EU, but calls made elsewhere can be up to 10 times more expensive and texts can be four times more expensive.

To help consumers fall inadvertently fall foul of four figure bills, Which? have published a blog detailing hidden or inflated charges.

“The cost of using a mobile in the EU has dropped significantly in recent years, but travel further afield and you could be facing a huge bill for making a few calls to stay in touch with friends and family," Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, said.

“If you’re a frequent traveller, you may be able to save money by buying an upgrade from your operator that offers reduced international call costs, or if you spend a lot of time in one country, it may be worth getting a local pay-as-you-go Sim card.

“Until data costs come down, anyone considering their tablet or mobile for using the net abroad should steer well clear of 3G data roaming and use free wi-fi access where available instead.”