Finding the best SIM and Plan when you get to Australia

Phones are useful while you’re at home. When travelling, they can be critical. They help you record the visit with pictures and navigate your way with maps. They tell you the best place to eat and to stay in contact with loved ones back home. Luckily, when you land, you’ll find that getting a SIM and getting online is easy in Australia. Follow these tips to get the most for your money.

Before you leave home

First, we recommend leaving a voicemail message while you’re travelling. It makes sense to give people perhaps an alternative method of contacting you while you’re away – email for example. Doing so allows you to leave your SIM at home or remove it entirely from your phone, while you’re overseas in Australia. This way, you can be sure that you won’t incur any expensive data roaming charging and, importantly, that people can get hold of you if they need to.

You might also like to compare the vast array of phone plans you have available to you before you set off. Consider ordering online and getting one delivered to your Australian accommodation before you arrive. You can then activate it when you need it, in your hotel on the first night.

How much do phone plans cost down under ?

You might be surprised by how cheap phone plans are in Australia. A typical monthly spend is $20 – $30 ( 15 – 20 Euro ) and would include 2GB to 3GB of 4G data. Most phone plans over the $20 level have unlimited calls and SMS for use in Australia to Australian phones.

You get a lot more phone plan for your money in Australia than you do in Germany !

What are the phone company options in Australia ?

There are three main phone companies in Australia. Telstra is the biggest, Optus second largest and Vodafone, a brand you will be familiar with from home, third. There are also dozens of smaller companies, many of which resell the bigger networks. Any supermarket or newsagents will stock SIMs from up to a dozen providers.

When you arrive at the airport

If you are still feeling robust when you land, and have a few moments to spare, you can pick up a SIM at the airport.

Optus and Vodafone both have a presence at Sydney International, Melbourne International, Brisbane International and Perth International airports. You will often find the best deals online (see below) but buying a SIM at the airport gets you online straight away.

Which Australian phone company has the best coverage ?

Phone network Coverage information is an especially important consideration in a country as large as Australia.

Generally, as any Australian will tell you, Telstra has a much bigger network than any competitor. Telstra do not resell their full network through any other phone company so there’s only one way to get it : Sign up with Telstra. Telstra’s network covers over 2.4 million square kilometers, that’s twice the 1.2m square kilometer coverage of Optus, the nearest rival. The catch, of course, is that Telstra is more expensive.

If you’re going to be in one of the major cities ( and feel likely to ONLY be in cities ) while you’re in Australia, independent research shows that Optus and Vodafone’s networks are just as good for both coverage and speed at Telstra.

It’s also worth noting that each phone company has a map on their website showing their current level of coverage and where they are planning to build reception, in the near future. If you know where you’re travelling too in Australia, these facilities can be useful.

There are websites which have constantly updated information on coverage statistics for the whole country and links to the major phone companies coverage checker maps. Click through if you’d like more information about Australian network coverage and links to those maps. ( link to )

What is the best plan to buy while you’re in Australia ?

The kind of plan you need is obviously determined by your specific circumstances. There are some useful principals to consider.

  • We would recommend a ‘prepaid’ service : As in Germany, it’s possible to buy a ‘prepaid’ SIM in Australia. Prepaid SIMs are the easiest services to sign up to – it takes literally 5 minutes. They also completely control your costs. If you ‘recharge’ your prepaid service, with $30, when you have used that allowance, it will simply stop working. That means no unexpected fees.
  • If you’re in Australia for less than a month : Most prepaid plans have validity periods of 28 or 30 days. Consider these plans if your stay is shorter.
    • Optus and Telstra have ‘Daily’ plans : These plans are paid for by the day. If you’re in the country for a couple of weeks, you could find these the most useful plans for you. Each comes with unlimited daily calls and SMS in Australia to Australian numbers, and a healthy daily data allowance.
    • Vodafone has a prepaid plans which last 7 days : Vodafone have a ‘My Mix’ plan which allows you to tie together the services you need. One option Vodafone offer is for their users to take a plan with a 7 day validity.
    • Most of the other plans last around a month : Other phone companies have prepaid plans which generally last 28 or 30 days.
  • Australian Phone Plans with international minutes : Many people use Skype, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to stay in touch with friends and family while they’re travelling. If you want to call home to German phone lines while you’re travelling, there are plans which will allow you to do that. Generally, as you might expect, you will pay a little more for the privilege. Check our Optus’ Prepaid plans at $40 per month or above for included international minutes to Germany, if you want unlimited minutes to Germany, we think Lebara’s Mobile plan range is the best for that service.