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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 (about £5.90). So, whether you’re planning a quick holiday or a longer trip, you could save money by comparing SIM card options on finder.com/uk.Prices last updated 28 Apr 2017
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There are three main telco providers in Australia: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Locals and travellers 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.
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 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:
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:
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.
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:
Telstra’s Browse Plus Packs can be added:
All the above-mentioned plans are valid for 30 days. Text the code to 125 7587 to activate.
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:
|2GB||Valid for 7 days||AUD$20|
|3GB||Valid for 30 days||AUD$30|
|6GB||Valid for 90 days||AUD$60|
|10GB||Valid for 180 days||AUD$90|
|20GB||Valid for 365 days||AUD$150|
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:
Top-ups can be made online, by purchasing vouchers at stores or through an Optus account. Text 1 to 9999 to check balance.
The following prepaid SIM card plans are currently on offer:
|AUD$10||7 days||300MB||100 minutes of calls within Australia||unlimitedAUS SMS|
|AUD$20||14 days||800MB||200 AUS mins|
|AUD$30||28 days||3GB||unlimitedAUS mins||AUD$5 credit|
Optus offers data-only plans called Prepaid Mobile Broadband. The following data packs are available:
The following data can also be added:
|1GB||Valid for 7 days||AUD$10|
|4GB||Valid for 30 days||AUD$30|
|7GB||Valid for 1 year||AUD$50|
|22GB||Valid for 2 years||AUD$130|
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:
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:
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:
Vodafone’s data-only SIMs were created for tablets or modems. The Mobile Broadband SIM also allows SMS usage. The following SIMs are available:
The following data packages can also be added:
|1GB||30 days||AUD$10||100MB bonus|
|2GB||30 days||AUD$20||200MB bonus|
|4GB||30 days||AUD$30||400MB bonus|
|6GB||40 days||AUD$40||600MB bonus|
|8GB||180 days||AUD$50||800MB bonus|
|10GB||365 days||AUD$60||1GB bonus|
|25GB||365 days||AUD$125||2.5GB bonus|
According to OpenSignal Australia is a world leader in mobile 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 mobile operators, and found networks that aren’t just fast but also consistently available to Australia’s far-flung population.
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:
All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked GSM compatible mobile phone. To double check you have this phone, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.
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.
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