Few visitors to Australia would leave home without their phone, but most people these days know that it’s best to pick up a new, local SIM when they arrive somewhere new as it is almost always a lot cheaper to do that than use their own phone on global roaming.
It’s no different when you come to Australia. There are three main phone companies present and they all have good short term plans you can use while you are here, whether it is for a day, a week or much longer. It’s easy to find a SIM as soon as you get off the plane in any of the country’s main international airports. If you don’t like the plan you are on, you can switch to another later.
If you have the time, check out the variety of phone plans available in Australia for visitors. If you find one that suits you, you can get a new SIM card sent to your first port of call in the country, whether it’s a hotel, backpackers, or a friend’s or relative’s address. If you do get one sent to you rather than pick one up at the airport, it’s easy to activate it for use after you arrive.
The cost of mobile phone plans in Australia
The cost of mobile phone plans in Australia is comparable to other parts of the world, such as Europe or the U.S. Because so many visitors come to Australia it’s generally easy to get yourself fixed up.
As elsewhere in the world, the cost depends on the amount of data, phone calls and texts you want to use. National phone calls and texts tend to be almost free, but data can be expensive if you use a lot of it. If you use between 2GB to 4GB of data a month, then expect to pay around A$5 to A$8 per GB. International calls and texts all cost more but there are plans that are suited to international visitors, too.
The three main phone companies are Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. There are also a number of smaller phone companies that have good mobile plans, although they use the infrastructure of one of the major companies. All three companies have good coverage (mostly 4G) in the cities, but because Australia is huge, and very lightly populated, the coverage drops off quickly once you leave town. If you are going to spend a lot of time in rural areas, Telstra has the best coverage of the lot, but it doesn’t necessarily have the cheapest or most convenient plans for visitors.
At the airport
If you arrive at one of the main international airports you will find that Vodafone and Optus have stands where you can buy a SIM and a plan to suit you. If you don’t like the SIM card and plan you have bought, you will find that there are a number of other options in the main supermarkets (Woolworths and Coles) or Australia Post stores. Staff may not always be as savvy about plans as they might be at a company store (if you can track one down).
Make sure you check that the SIM you are interested in actually works in the phone you bring from home. Don’t just pick up a SIM before trying it out. Your phone may be more compatible with one of the companies but not another. If none of the SIMs will work, you may have to buy an unlocked phone for use in Australia while you are here. There are quite a few available suitable for short term use.
What are the best mobile phone plans in Australia?
As with anywhere else in the world, there is no one best plan. It depends on what you need mobile coverage for. Do some research before you come to Australia and remember that if you spend a lot of time in accommodation you will get free internet there anyway. Data is definitely the most expensive part of any mobile phone plan, while calls and texts within the country are virtually free.
One day plans
Both Optus and Telstra have very useful one day plans which give you free Aussie phone call and texts as well as some data. These are great plans if you are only going to be in the country for less than a week. You just renew the plan each day for however long you want it for.
7 day plans
Vodafone has one of the best 7 day plans. You can choose the combination of data, international minutes and local phone time you want. The plan lasts for a week, but if you use up say the data allocation, you have to pay for another week.
Most mobile plans last for 28 days or a month. If you are spending more than a few weeks in the country you will want to choose a monthly prepaid plan as there is a huge variety and ultimately it will be cheaper to switch to one of these which suits you rather than stick to a daily or weekly plan.
Don’t use global roaming when you come to Australia. Make sure you leave a voicemail message on your home phone number or let friends, family and work know how to contact you until you pick up a local SIM card for use while in Oz. Buy a prepaid mobile phone plan and SIM when you arrive. There are plenty of different options depending on your need for data and phone call time.