Traveler’s guide to buying a SIM card in Australia
Smartphones have become a basic necessity. You carry your smartphone everywhere you go, especially when traveling. On a trip to Australia, you may want to post your selfie with an Australian icon, call your family, live stream your experiences, or transfer funds to someone in your home country.
When you are travel to Australia, these can be expensive. The best way to keep costs down is to switch over to the local Australian SIM card. Travelers in Australia have several options, with SIM-only prepaid being the most cost-effective.
Visitors can choose from many temporary prepaid options that won’t cost them much or require signing up for any contracts. Just bring your phone and buy a SIM. This can be even be done before you travel, received via the mail or purchased at your airport before departing.
If those aren’t feasible options, SIM cards can be purchased at the airport upon arrival in Australia, or at other shops in town. Many major telcos in Australia offer cheaper mobile calling and internet data plans – likely much cheaper than roaming with your home telco’s plan.
Telstra SIM cards for travellers in Australia
Telstra is the largest telco in Australia, and also has the fastest connection speed. The telco offers the best network coverage at competitive prices when considering the service and features of their plans. In general though, Telstra is also one of the costliest networks in Australia, but the company offers many cheap plans to visitors in the country.
Local SIM card pre-paid kits from Telstra. Source
Telstra offers only 3G and 4G compatible SIM card plans, so it won’t work with a 2G phone. You can buy SIM cards from Telstra T-Life stores, kiosks, airports, and supermarkets. Register your SIM card online.
Three different prepaid SIM card packs for starters are:
- Free SIM card for cells or tablets. You have to add credits for use.
- AUD$10 SIM card (7 days expiry): 2GB data, unlimited call and text within Australia, unlimited international calls to 20 countries.
- AUD$20 SIM card (28 days expiry): Was AUD$30, now AUD$20 with credit, 27 GB (10GB plus 17GB bonus data), unlimited call and text within Australia, unlimited international calls to 20 countries, data bank.
- AUD$40 SIM card (35 days expiry): 35GB data (20GB plus 15GB bonus data), unlimited call and text within Australia, unlimited international calls to 20 countries, data bank.
The second largest telco in Australia – Optus – offers great coverage in the main cities and towns.
You can get an Optus prepaid SIM for just $2. Source
You can buy Optus SIM cards from Optus stores, supermarkets, kiosks, airports, and post offices, and you have a number of options:
- My prepaid daily plus:
- AUD$2 a day – 500MB data, unlimited AUS voice, and text, Valid for six months.
- Some of the My prepaid long expiry plans include:
- AUD$10 sim – 7 cents for every MB of data, valid 45 days, 25 cents per minute of calls and per text, within Australia.
- AUD$10 – 7 cents for every MB of data, valid 186 days, 25 cents per minute of calls and per text, within Australia.
- Some of the Optus Epic Data SIM plans include:
- AUD$10 SIM: 5GB data, valid for 5 days, unlimited talk and text within Australia.
- AUD$30 SIM: 35GB data, valid for 28 days, unlimited talk and text within Australia.
- AUD$45 SIM: 45GB data, valid for 28 days, unlimited talk and text within Australia.
Vodafone is another reliable and leading telco service provider in Australia. The company offers SIM card plans with great inclusions at affordable prices. Those who are visiting populated areas in Australia and looking for a bargain should go for Vodafone SIMs.
You can shop for a Vodafone SIM card from Vodafone stores, post offices, online, supermarkets or airports.
- Vodafone Combo plus plans:
- AUD$30: 35GB data (10GB plus 25GB bonus data), 28 days recharge, unlimited talk and text within Australia.
- AUD$40 SIM: 45GB data (20GB plus 25GB bonus data), 35 days recharge, unlimited talk and text within Australia.
- AUD$50 SIM: 55GB data (30GB plus 25GB bonus data), 35 days recharge, unlimited talk and text within Australia.
- AUD$50 SIM – 8GB for 180 days
Vodafone also have Pay and Go plans that charge per MB and per minute of calls/per text.
Determine what you need before choosing a plan
Given the many choices between networks and plans, choosing the right plan depends on your circumstance and preferences. Identify your need by considering the following factors:
- Get a SIM card on arrival at the airport
All popular telcos in Australia have their stores at Airports. You can buy, set up and activate Australian SIM before leaving the airport so that you can communicate with others, especially if you have important meetings.
- Nationwide calling minutes
Booking a hotel, connecting with your acquaintances in Australia, meeting up with your friends, or making emergency calls should be easier from all the places you travel to in Australia, given that a lot local prepaid SIM plans include unlimited voice.
In emergency situations, you may need to send text messages, and a lot of prepaid SIM plans offer unlimited texts
- International calls
International calling can be expensive, if not chosen carefully. When you are abroad, you have to connect with your friends or family in your home country. In this case, buying a local SIM card or pre-paid mobile plan is the best option, as some offer unlimited standard international calls to some countries.
- Internet data
You can hardly survive without the internet when you are abroad. You need internet for online bookings, travel research, managing remote work, posting to social media, etc. Your SIM card plan should allow enough data to accomplish all these tasks easily.
Additionally, you should also look into the validity period of your SIM card plan and have an app to track your data usage.
When traveling to another country, depending on your home telco might mean exorbitant roaming charges. To avoid extremely high bills when you visit Australia, its best to purchase an Australian prepaid SIM plan. With a local SIM card in Australia, you will have a less-costly experience on your visit, and there are a number of options to choose from.