Best Prepaid International SIM card for Australia | finder.com
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A guide to finding the best prepaid SIM card when traveling to Australia

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Use a local SIM card to reduce your roaming rates

If you’re planning a trip to Australia, contacting family and friends abroad can be expensive. A top tip for keeping costs down is to switch over to a local SIM card. Australia has some great voice, SMS and data plans on offer, with deals that could reduce your phone bills. You can get 1GB of data from Australia’s top telco providers for as little as AUD$10 (US$7.5). So, whether you’re planning a quick vacation or a longer trip, you could save money by comparing SIM card options on finder.com.

Travel Sim Card

Travel Sim Card from SimCorner

SimCorner's prepaid SIM cards let you enjoy local call, text and data rates in dozens of countries around the world.

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Details Features
Flexiroam Sim Card
Flexiroam Sim Card
If you're planning a trip that includes multiple countries, a Flexiroam X sim card can be much cheaper than roaming with your existing mobile number.
  • Over 120 countries
  • 6 different starter pack options
  • Data options from 1 to 7 GB
  • Shipment takes 3 to 7 days
Go to site More info
SimCorner Travel Sim Card
SimCorner Travel Sim Card
Enjoy local calls, text and data rates in dozens of countries around the world with SimCorner's prepaid SIM cards.
  • Available in most major tourist destinations
  • 4GB data speeds
  • Several different data plans available
  • Ships in 7-12 business days
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Prices last updated 28 Apr 2017

Cell phone carriers in Australia

There are three main telco providers in Australia: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Locals and travelers have tried and tested SIM cards from all three networks, so they can be trusted. Although there are many other SIM card options offered by the likes of ALDImobile, amaysim, Boost Mobile, Coles Prepaid, Dodo, gotalk, Hello Mobile, Lebara, Lycamobile, Virgin Mobile, Woolworths Mobile and Yomojo, they are all operated as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) through the three main operators mentioned above.

About Australia’s cell phone operators

Australia’s operators offer amazing technology, competitive prices and sell prepaid credit, allowing users to take advantage of cheap offers and deals. All networks offer customers 3G and 4G/LTE. 2G will be discontinued across the entire country in October 2017, so make sure your phone is 3G or 4G compatible. Aussies call their SIM cards SIMs and there are no real rules and regulations when buying them. Just make sure you show your passport and register your SIM card online once you have purchased it, with the address of where you’re staying. It would be easier to ask the store assistant to do this for you to save time. SIM cards and credit can be purchased from supermarkets, stores, kiosks and the main airports in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth.

Telstra

Telstra is the largest operator in Australia, with the best coverage area and the highest prices. Although this might be the costliest network, it does tend to be the only one available in the outback or far-flung regions. So, if you’re going on a road trip this is the SIM card for you. Telstra no longer offers 2G services so make sure your phone is 3G or 4G compatible.

SIM cards and credit can be purchased from Telstra T-Life stores, supermarkets, kiosks and airports. Don’t forget to register your SIM card online. Prepaid SIM cards come in three different starter packs, and are offered in nano, mini or micro SIMs:

  • Free SIM card – available for cells or tablets, credit should be added for use.
  • AUD$10 SIM card – 100 operator minutes, unlimited SMS and 1GB data – valid for 2 weeks
  • AUD$30 SIM card – includes AUD$30 credit, 1.5GB (+1.5GB night bonus) – valid for 30 days. Unused data will rollover.

Credit can be topped-up online using your Telstra account, or by purchasing top-up vouchers from most supermarkets and stores. Dial #100# to check your balance.

Telstra offers two very good prepaid SIM card options:

Simplicity:

The standard default rate is 10 cents per MB. AUD$20 top-up is valid for 30 days, AUD$30 for 60 days, AUD$50 for 90 days and AUD$100 for 180 days.

Prepaid Plus:

Data with unlimited SMS and calls to Telstra customers for 28 days. Overuse is charged at a very high AUD$2 per MB, if you go over any of the set data allowances highlighted below. The following plans are currently available and unused credit will rollover to the next plan you purchase:

  • AUD$30 – 1.5GB – Plus, 1.5GB bonus between 8pm to 8am
  • AUD$40 – 3GB – Plus, 3GB bonus between 8pm to 8am
  • AUD$50 – 4GB – Plus, 4GB bonus between 8pm to 8am
  • Extra data can also be added at the following prices: 1GB for AUD$10, or 2.5GB for AUD$20.
  • Telstra’s Long Life isn’t really for travellers, the focus is more on the longevity of the plan. Beyond Talk focuseson calls and SMS, but has very expensive data rates.

Data plans:

Telstra’s Browse Plus Packs can be added:

  • AUD$5 – 30MB – BROWSEPLUS5 to activate
  • AUD$10 – 200MB – BROWSEPLUS10 to activate
  • AUD$20 – 700MB – BROWSEPLUS20 to activate
  • AUD$39 – 1GB – BROWSEPLUS39 to activate
  • AUD$49 – 3GB – BROWSEPLUS49 to activate
  • AUD$59 – 4GB – BROWSEPLUS59 to activate

All the above-mentioned plans are valid for 30 days. Text the code to 125 7587 to activate.

Data-only SIM cards:

A special data-only SIM card has been produced to cater for modems or tablets, which offer good data roaming rates. The standard default rate is extremely high at AUD$2 per MB, so make sure you choose a data pack that suits your needs. Unused data will rollover on the following data deals:

2GBValid for 7 daysAUD$20
3GBValid for 30 daysAUD$30
6GBValid for 90 daysAUD$60
10GBValid for 180 daysAUD$90
20GBValid for 365 daysAUD$150

Optus

Optus is the second largest telco provider in Australia, owned by Singtel. Their coverage is great in the main cities and towns, but can be a little problematic in the country areas. SIM cards and credit can be purchased from yes Optus stores, supermarkets, kiosks, airports, and post offices. Don’t forget to register your SIM card online. They have the following prepaid SIM cards on offer:

  • AUD$2 SIM – credit must be added
  • AUD$10 SIM – includes AUD$10 credit
  • AUD$30 SIM – includes AUD$30 credit
  • AUD$40 SIM – includes AUD$40 credit

Top-ups can be made online, by purchasing vouchers at stores or through an Optus account. Text 1 to 9999 to check balance.

Prepaid SIM card:

The following prepaid SIM card plans are currently on offer:

  1. My prepaid daily plus: AUD$2 a day – 500MB data, unlimited AUS voice and text. If you go over the 500MB data allowance, you will automatically be charged an extra AUD$2 to increase to 1GB. To add further data, you should do that yourself by adding blocks of 500MB of data at AUD$2 each. All amounts will expire at 11:59pm. All credit top-ups are valid for six months.
  2. My prepaid long expiry: Data is charged at 5c per MB. AUD$5 provides 500MB and AUD$10 provides 1.5GB data, both valid for 14 days. Additional credit lasts for 186 days, the only exception is AUD$60 which is valid for a year.
  3. My prepaid ultimate:
AUD $107 days300 MB100 minutes of calls within Australia
AUD $2014 days800 MB200 AUS mins
AUD $3028 days3 GBunlimited AUS minsAUD$5 credit
AUD $406 GBAUD$10 credit
AUD $508.5 GBAUD$15 credit
AUD $6011 GBAUD$20 credit

Optus offers data-only plans called Prepaid Mobile Broadband. The following data packs are available:Data-only SIM:

  • AUD$2 SIM – 50MB data – valid for 7 days
  • AUD$10 SIM – 1GB data – valid for 7 days
  • AUD$30 SIM – 4GB data – valid for 30 days

The following data can also be added:

1GBValid for 7 daysAUD$10
4GBValid for 30 daysAUD$30
7GBValid for 1 yearAUD$50
22GBValid for 2 yearsAUD$130

Top-ups can be made online by using your credit card. Unused data will be rolled over.

Vodafone

Vodafone is the third provider in Australia, but is reliable and offers the best prices. SIM cards and credit can be purchased from Vodafone stores, supermarkets, post offices, airports or online. Don’t forget to register your SIM card online. The following starter packs are available:

  • AUD$1 – credit must be added
  • AUD$30 – with AUD$30 credit, valid for 30 days
  • AUD$50 – with AUD$50 credit, valid for 30 days

Data packs:

You can add data to Vodafone’s prepaid SIM cards in AUD$30, AUD$40 or AUD$50 denominations. The standard default rate is AUD$2 per MB. The following data packs can also be added:

  • AUD$3 – 2GB, valid for 1 day
  • AUD$7 – 2GB, valid for 7 days
  • AUD$5 – 500MB, valid for 28 days
  • AUD$10 – 1GB, valid for 28 days
  • AUD$15 – 2GB, valid for 28 days

Vodafone’s MyMix offer allows prepaid users to create their own plans. Using the MyVodafone app, customers can create voice, data and international call options, as well as how long they are valid for. MyMix offers the following combinations:

  • AUD$10 – 500MB, unlimited AUS calls, unlimited AUS SMS, 50 international SMS – valid for 7 days
  • AUD$20 – 2GB, unlimited AUS calls, unlimited AUS SMS, 50 international SMS – valid for 10 days
  • AUD$30 – 2GB, unlimited AUS calls, unlimited AUS SMS, 50 international SMS – valid for 28 days
  • AUD$40 – 5GB, unlimited AUS calls, unlimited AUS SMS, 50 international SMS, 90 international mins – valid for 28 days
  • AUD$50 – 7.5GB, unlimited AUS calls, unlimited AUS SMS, 50 international SMS, 90 international mins – valid for 28 days
  • AUD$60 – 10GB, unlimited AUS calls, unlimited AUS SMS, 50 international SMS, 120 international mins – valid for 28 days

Data-only SIM cards:

Vodafone’s data-only SIMs were created for tablets or modems. The Mobile Broadband SIM also allows SMS usage. The following SIMs are available:

  • AUD$2 SIM – standard SIM with no set plan
  • AUD$30 SIM – 4GB valid for 30 days
  • AUD$40 SIM – 6GB valid for 40 days
  • AUD$50 SIM – 8GB valid for 180 days

The following data packages can also be added:

1GB30 daysAUD$10100MB bonus
2GB30 daysAUD$20200MB bonus
4GB30 daysAUD$30400MB bonus
6GB40 daysAUD$40600MB bonus
8GB180 daysAUD$50800MB bonus
10GB365 daysAUD$601GB bonus
25GB365 daysAUD$1252.5GB bonus

Some top tips from finder.com staff:

  • Australians speak English and love tourists, so you shouldn’t have any problems. Their accent can sometimes be a little hard to understand, but once you become accustomed to it then you won’t give it a second thought.
  • Ask the store assistant to set up the SIM card for you. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to seek advice.
  • The majority of stores close at 5:00pm, with Thursday night being dubbed as “late night shopping night” as stores close at around 9:00pm.

What is the state of the cell phone networks in Australia?

According to OpenSignal Australia is a world leader in cell phone networking. 3G and 4G technologies were launched almost straight after creation and 5G plans are already in the pipeline. OpenSignal tested Australia’s three major cell operators, and found networks that aren’t just fast but also consistently available to Australia’s far-flung population.

  • Telstra had the fastest speed with a 4G download average of 23.6 Mbps. Telstra also provided the best overall speeds, averaging 17.1 Mbps across its 3G and 4G networks.
  • Vodafone kept pace with Telstra when it came to offering a consistent LTE connection
  • Australian consumers have world beating access to fast LTE networks. It ranks in the top 10 in 4G speeds, and the top 20 in 4G availability.
  • Telstra and Optus have built LTE-Advanced networks capable of speeds faster than its subscribers can access. Smartphone technology is still catching up!

TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them

TripAdvisor has many user comments that can help guide you through what SIM cards have been tried and tested in Australia.

Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:

  • “Any of the majors are good: Telstra, Vodafone, Optus. Telstra has more coverage nationwide, but if you’re sticking in Melbourne you won’t have any trouble.”
  • “SIM cards can be bought for around AUD$2 but they do not include any credit. If you are looking for a simple, non-cap plan you could check out the Optus plan which is only 10c per 30 seconds for calls and 10c per SMS. It is good for basic use.”
  • ”Buy a SIM at the airport or at any convenience store in Melbourne and have the staff assist you to set it up and put credit on it. You’ll need ID to get a SIM, so have your passport ready when you buy it.”
  • “You can pick SIMs up in department stores, electronics stores, and of course the phone company outlets as well.”
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Deal ends

Pros and cons of Australia’s top telco providers

All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked GSM compatible cell phone. To double check you have this phone, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Prepaid credit when required
  • No in-store contract needed
  • Could be compatible with your current cell phone
  • Australia offers the best technology in the world

Cons:

  • Some remote areas can suffer from bad coverage
  • No cell phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
  • Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
  • No 2G networks

Have more questions about finding the best SIM?

Q: What about other SIM card providers in Australia?

A: There are many smaller carriers providing SIM cards in Australia, including ALDImobile, amaysim, Boost Mobile, Coles Prepaid, Dodo, gotalk, Hello Mobile, Lebara, Lycamobile, Virgin Mobile, Woolworths Mobile and Yomojo. These are run through the three main operators highlighted above.

If you’re using lots of data while in Australia, the above providers could offer better value. Not all MVNOs offer the full network experience of the main providers so it’s worth checking coverage before you purchase a SIM.

Switch to a cell phone plan with international calling

Details Features
SIMPLE Mobile
SIMPLE Mobile
  • Plans: Individual
  • From: $25/month
  • Min. contract: None
  • The Truly Unlimited plan gives you
    Unlimited talk, text and data for $50/month
  • No contracts
  • No credit check
  • Unlimited international calling
Go to site More info
FreedomPop
FreedomPop
  • Plans: Individual, Family, Business
  • From: $0/month
  • Min. contract: None
  • The Basic 500 Plan gives you
    200 minutes, 500 texts and 500MB data for $0/month
  • Offers a Free talk, text & data plan
  • Data can rollover month to month
  • Call other FreedomPop users for free
Go to site More info
NET10 Wireless
NET10 Wireless
  • Plans: Data, Pay-As-You-Go, Home, Business, International
  • From: $20/month
  • Min. contract: None if you choose a Pay-As-You-Go
  • The Mega Data User Plan gives you
    Unlimited nationwide talk and text plus 10GB high-speed data for $60/mo
  • Nationwide coverage with flexible prepaid plans for talk, text & data.
  • Unlimited international talk for $65 a month.
  • No credit checks, no activation fees.
    Go to site More info
    Straight Talk Wireless
    Straight Talk Wireless
    • Plans: Individual, Family, Business & International
    • From: $30/month
    • Min. contract: None - Pay as you go
    • The Unlimited 5G Plan gives you
      Unlimited Talk, Text and Data for just $45/month
    • No contract option for nationwide coverage.
    • Unlimited international plan for $60 a month.
    • Bring your own phone.
      Go to site More info

      Nathan Kay

      Nathan is Associate Editor at finder. He works across several niches on the finder site but his passions lie in travel, tech and news. He's had thousands of articles published globally and has worked for many leading publications, including: Mail on Sunday, MailOnline, Grazia (UK), Ahlan!, and others. He graduated with a degree in Media & Society and holds a postgraduate qualification in Psychological Therapies from Queen Mary University in London.

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      10 Responses

      1. Default Gravatar
        farazSeptember 25, 2018

        Hello, was wondering if we could buy a SIM card (to be used by other person) coming from overseas?

        Do I have to provide my details for purchasing that SIM? or what sort of details are we required to provide for buying the SIM?

        Thanks,

        • finder Customer Care
          JoshuaSeptember 26, 2018Staff

          Hi Faraz,

          Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

          Yes, you can buy a SIM card for another person coming from overseas. I would assume that you live in the US. SIM packs should readily be available in your area. Generally, you won’t be required to provide details when you buy a SIM.

          I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

          Have a wonderful day!

          Cheers,
          Joshua

      2. Default Gravatar
        YongAugust 14, 2018

        For the vodafone data only simcard, its stated 1gb (30days) for AUD$10. Is AUD$10 paid per day?

        • finder Customer Care
          johnbasanesAugust 15, 2018Staff

          Hi Yong,

          Thank you for leaving a question.
          The Vodafone data only sim card for AUD$10 is valid for 30 days with 100mb bonus. It is not AUD$10 per day.
          Hope this helps!

          Cheers,
          Reggie

      3. Default Gravatar
        ChinApril 28, 2018

        What is the difference between of sim card & data sim card? Thank you.

        • finder Customer Care
          JeniApril 28, 2018Staff

          Hi Chin Chin,

          Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

          A sim card allows you to call, send SMS or MMS, surf online through mobile date and more, while a special data-only SIM card has been produced to cater for modems or tablets, which offer good data roaming rates.

          I hope this helps.

          Have a great day!

          Cheers,
          Jeni

      4. Default Gravatar
        BobbieNovember 16, 2017

        Any info about sim card for calls and text only in Australia and to the Czech Republic?

        • finder Customer Care
          JoanneNovember 17, 2017Staff

          Hi Bobbie,

          Thank you for visiting finder, we are a financial comparison website and general information service.

          Sim cards available for Czech Republic include T-mobile, O2 and vodafone while sim cards available in Australia are Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. You also have the Flexiroam option that can be used for multiple countries.

          You may read further on those pages above and check which one would best suit your needs.

          Cheers,
          Joanne

      5. Default Gravatar
        AntoninoOctober 30, 2017

        Hi,I wanted to ask if it was possible to buy a SIM Card, tariff plan obviously included, from afar, for example from Italy? Or you need to buy it when you arrive to your destination? Thank you.

        • finder Customer Care
          AshOctober 30, 2017Staff

          Hello Antonio,

          Thank you for visiting finder.

          It will be advisable for you to buy a local SIM Card when you reach your travel destination for more cheaper rates or you can also request for your current provider to activate the roaming option on your mobile service. If you will opt for this option, you will need to check if roaming is available in your destination country and if the roaming plans will be suitable to your needs while you travel.

          On the left-hand side of the page, you may choose your destination country to see the available provider/s and compare their rates to your provider’s International Roaming rates.

          I hope this information helps.

          Let us know if there is anything else that we may assist you with.

          Cheers,
          Ash

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