Long hot summer days, golden beaches, world-class surfing, delicious brunches, and more, there are plenty of reasons why Australia sees over seven million visitors each year.
All those suntans and flat whites come at a cost, however. The country is expensive to get to, and far from cheap to spend time in.
For years that high cost extended to staying connected, but competition from new entrants to the cellular market has driven down prices substantially in recent years. It’s now reasonably cheap and easy to get a local SIM card Down Under, at least if you choose the right provider.
Activating a SIM card in Australia, whether you do it in person or online, requires you to show ID (typically a passport for overseas visitors) and provide a local address. Some companies make this process more onerous than others: Aldi, for instance, also requires you to have a Visa or Mastercard-branded card and the ability to see transactions in near real-time.
If you’re struggling to activate a SIM online, you may need to go into a retail store of one of the major providers like Telstra or Optus and do it in person. Resellers don’t have physical stores (other than supermarkets like Coles and Aldi, where you won’t get any technical support anyway).
Here’s what you need to know in 2023.
Of the three network providers in Australia, Telstra has the widest coverage, and the highest prices to go with it. The Optus network isn’t quite as large, although you’re unlikely to strike a problem in most towns and cities or popular tourist spots like the Great Ocean Road. It’s the rural areas where you’ll start hitting dead zones.
Vodafone coverage is reasonable and expanding, but it’s still the smallest of the three. If you know you’ll be spending time in small towns and rural areas, check the coverage maps (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone) to make sure you’ll get service where you need it.
I’ve used all three of the network providers and several of the resellers at different times, and while there’s not always a lot between them, Amaysim has always had pretty good pricing, and offers 4G/LTE service on the Optus network.
It’s always worth checking which deals are available elsewhere, though: I’ve often seen Optus offering similar prices to its resellers, especially for the first month of service. You’ll typically get faster speeds with Optus, so be sure to check the current pricing for both providers before making a final decision.
Boost, which resells service on the Telstra network, is also a good option if you’re expecting to spend time in remote areas. It’s the only reseller with access to Telstra’s entire retail cell network, so you’ll get better coverage with Boost than anyone else except Telstra itself, at a cheaper price.
Your choice of provider may also depend on how urgently you need service. If you’re coming in off an international flight and want a SIM card before you leave the airport, you’ll be buying from one of the three network providers.
If you can wait until you get into town (and especially if you head to one of the supermarkets), however, you’ll have a wider range of options.
One thing to note: outside of the cities, you should expect to use more cell data in Australia than many other countries. Usable free Wi-Fi is often available in central parts of major cities, plus places like shopping malls and supermarkets, but overall it isn’t as common in Australia as elsewhere in the world.
How to Buy a Prepaid SIM Card in Australia
Amaysim doesn’t have its own retail stores, instead selling SIM cards through a range of outlets including post offices, supermarket chains, gas stations, and electronics stores. You can also order them online if you’ve got an Australian address to use. They take 1-7 days to arrive, depending on where you are.
I walked into a branch of one of the major electronics stores in suburban Melbourne, and purchased a SIM and top-up voucher in under a minute. The SIM had cutouts for all sizes: standard, micro, and nano.
While you can activate the SIM, add credit, and select packages from your phone, I chose to do it from a laptop. The instructions are straightforward, requiring you to first enter the SIM number on the package, then select a phone number from a given range.
You’ll then need to provide your name, passport details, phone number, and an Australian address. There’s no additional verification done on the address, though, so you can use the one for your hotel or hostel without a problem.
Once that’s done, you simply select the call, text, and data bundle you’d like, and how you want to pay for it. International credit and debit cards are fine for this purpose, but you can use Paypal instead if you’d prefer.
After the bundle is purchased, your SIM should be activated and start working immediately. Note that you’ll be set up to automatically renew every 28 days, using the card or Paypal account you specified. If you don’t want this to happen, be sure to turn off auto-renew from the Amaysim site or app.
Optus has physical stores throughout Australia, including at international airports. You can also order SIMs to be sent to an Australian address, and they’ll take 1-3 business days to get to you.
I’ve flown into both Cairns and Melbourne on recent trips, and in both cases could have purchased from a kiosk or store in the arrivals area. Instead, I waited until I got downtown, and walked into an official store in the central city.
As mentioned earlier, some companies can be a bit funny about the identification requirements when selling to overseas visitors. In this case, at least, only a passport was required.
After choosing a call, text, and data package and handing over the cash, the staff member inserted the SIM, confirmed that it worked, and I was on my way. The process took under ten minutes.
You can buy Boost SIM packs at many major retailers, but large supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths are probably the most convenient. You can also get one posted out to you if you have an address to use. Like other resellers, you’ll need to activate online rather than in a store, providing passport and visa info along with an address.
You can use international credit/debit cards and Paypal to buy the SIM and top-up as needed.
Can't be bothered with the hassle of buying a local SIM in Australia? OneSIM topped our international SIM card comparison.
It offers phones and SIM cards that work in 200 countries, have free incoming calls, save up to 85% on roaming fees, and can be sent out ahead of time to let you hit the ground running. Find out more here.
If you have a recent iPhone or other supported device, a prepaid eSIM is also a good alternative, often at surprisingly cheap rates.
Prepaid SIM Costs
Amaysim is often noticeably cheaper than the competition, especially if you want a decent amount of data. The SIM card typically costs $2 when you purchase in person, and is often free when you buy online. There’s a wide range of call, data, and text packages at pretty low prices.
I’ve seen monthly packages (28 days, to be precise) with unlimited domestic calls and texts start at $20 AUD with 16GB of data. You’ll get 32GB for $30, and up to 80GB for $35 AUD.
The amount of competition in the reseller market means that the pricing and promotional deals changes all the time, but suffice it to say that you’ll likely be able to get plenty of data and all the domestic calls and texts you could ever need for not a lot of money.
The pricier package options also include free calls to certain international destinations. If you plan to call home regularly, that’s definitely something to bear in mind.
Optus had particularly competitive pricing on my most recent trip. A $30 AUD package included the SIM, unlimited domestic calls and texts, and 30GB of data, but the best deal for shorter stays was a 40GB pack that cost $20 for the first month ($40 after that).
If you were planning to stay in Australia for a while, 100GB of data valid for a year cost $150 AUD, again with free domestic calls and texts.
Boost pricing varies: sometimes it’s cheaper than resellers on other networks, sometimes it isn’t. It usually comes down to what promotions are running at the time, and whether they suit your particular requirements.
As I write this, for instance, there’s a great deal where you’ll only pay $10/month for 45GB plus unlimited domestic calls and texts, valid for your first three months. There’s even free international calls included to several countries. For many visitors, this would be an ideal option.
It wasn’t there when I checked a couple of months ago, however, so you really do need to confirm exactly what’s on offer before making a decision.
Topping up with Amaysim is straightforward. If you’ve linked your debit card, credit card, or Paypal account, you can add credit via the company’s app, your dashboard on the Amaysim website, or by texting TOP<amount> to 568. For example, TOP10 will add $10. TOP1GB will buy another 1GB of data if you’ve run out, costing $10.
As mentioned above, by default the call/text/data bundle you’ve chosen will renew every 28 days, using the payment method you specified. If you’ve turned auto-renewal off, you can use a voucher instead. They’re available anywhere that sells the SIM cards, and you won’t have a problem finding somewhere in all but the smallest towns.
Finally, you can upgrade your package at any time from the site or app.
You can top up by buying a voucher from an Optus retail store, or anywhere else displaying the Optus logo. That includes most supermarkets, gas stations, and convenience stores.
Even easier, the company’s mobile app lets you top up via credit or debit cards, including those issued overseas, or Paypal.
Topping up with Boost is much the same as with other providers: you can buy a recharge voucher from anywhere that sells the SIM cards (and other places), or do it online using a credit or debit card or Paypal. Easy stuff.
Coverage and Data Speeds
Since Amaysim uses the Optus network, you’ll get service that covers “98.5% of the Aussie population”. I found that LTE speeds were close to 30Mbps in central Melbourne.
Using an Optus SIM in the same location gave double the LTE speeds, however, even though it’s the same network. If the fastest speeds are important to you, bear this in mind.
5G is also available with Optus, with prices starting at $2/day or $60/month, but it’s only in a few limited areas (mostly central parts of major cities). You’ll need to carefully check whether your specific international phone model will work with the 5G frequencies that Optus uses. I personally wouldn’t bother with it at this stage.
Check out our guides to buying SIM cards in many other countries here.
Did you consider telling people how many forms of identification are usually required including proof of address?
I honestly have no idea how they expect tourists to actually buy sim cards, of course they don’t have proof of address within Australia.
Yup, a passport may be required in Australia. My girlfriend was asked for a passport when she bought her SIM in a retail store, I was not asked for ID when buying one in a supermarket. Neither of us were asked for proof of address in-store, although given Australia’s love affair with rules and regulations, it certainly doesn’t surprise me that some companies do ask for it. I’d certainly expect to be asked for that when signing up on a post-paid account, mind you.
Cool, I recently bought a SIM card too, and it seems the ones that are not activated in store seem to skip the compliance measures of proof of address.
But the ones that are able to be activated with just a phone call still seem to need a proof of address. At least that was my experience 6 months ago.
Just purchased a new sim card today. This time aldi mobile on the telstra network. The online activation required medicare and drivers license…
Crazy. That’s for a prepay, right? Was there another way to activate other than the online option?
Hi my name is vishal from sri lanka. Im planning to move to australia next month and currently i have ordered a sim from australia via ebay for 12 dollars. How to activate the sim before i leave from the country to australia ??
It depends on the provider. You’ll need to check with them, or whoever you bought the SIM from on eBay.
It might also be useful to inform tourists what frequencies our Australian 3g uses, and if they are coming from which country, which network is compatible.
Hi! I have a question. I am living in the Philippines and will be going to Australia next week, I have no idea which sim card i am going to buy. In my country, we have 3 major telecoms; sun cellular, globe telecom and smart communications. We can use internet using these networks even if we use prepaid sims, but we need to pay certain amt like 10php (approx. 0.25usd) every half hour of usage, problem is the speed of the internet depends on your location. My question is, in Australia do they have a prepaid simcard that i can use for text, call and internet browsing? I will only use internet for wechat or skype or yahoo messenger. Do australia have the same or almost the same service for using internet (the 0.25usd/half hr)?
You can definitely get prepaid SIM cards for voice, text and data in Australia. Most plans tend to be give you a certain amount of data (say 500MB or 2GB or whatever) rather than being based on how long you’re using it for.
How long are you in Australia for? If it’s for two weeks or less, something like the Optus $2/day plan might be good – it gives you unlimited text, voice and data for $2 per day.
If you’re there for longer, you’ll need to do some research to find out what the best value is – it changes all the time.
I use prepaid sim card Travelsim every time if I am going to travell. Once purchased from the website I save my money and time during my trip.
Compared to roaming with your number from home, an international SIM card like TravelSim will probably save you money. Compared to purchasing a local SIM card, however – which is what this article is about – it almost certainly won’t.
I went on Amazon and bought a SIM card deal. I had already booked an AirBNB in Melbourne so I asked the host if it was ok to ship the SIM card to the property. He agreed, so I got a great deal. I activated it when I got to the AirBNB (Telstra) and had great service for the 3 weeks I was there. I think I paid about $12 for the whole thing.
I’m a bit surprised that a random Amazon seller can provide a better deal than Telstra itself, but anything is possible. If you’ve got a local address to use, don’t need a local SIM immediately on arrival (eg. to find your Airbnb), and are happy to take the small risk that there’s a problem with the SIM that’s harder to deal with than when buying direct, though, it’s worth a look on Amazon etc for sure.
After analyzing multiple prepaid options for tourists, we have found that the ‘Dodo’ prepaid plans and ‘Lebara’ Unlimited plan would be most suitable for people traveling to Australia who want to use their phones for calls and data. The advantages of each will depend on how much data you want to use or how many international phone calls you want to make while you are in Australia.
Australian SIM Card 2U
I’ve been to Australia before (2 years ago), and tried to get a sim card, but had to give all sorts of ID to get one (after hunting to find a place). I bought my last one on myaustraliansim.com and just had them deliver it to my hotel. Worked well. Haven’t yet tried any others though.
Im in Australia now and the SIM cards are cheap with Lebara – airport kiosks. $40 for a month, unlimited text/phone calls to US. More than enough data for a month.
Vodafone, Telstra and Optus all offer 4G direct on their prepaid offerings now, as does Yatango (who resell the Optus network).
For many travellers, multinational players like Lycamobile and Lebara tend to offer better call rates to overseas destinations.
I picked up a SIM card from Optus at Sydney Airport in July… I was offered a special rate of $25 for 3 weeks unlimited calls & texts and 7 GB of data. 3G on Optus in Australia seemed faster to me than LTE on Verizon in the US…. I had problems with data indoors in Hahndorf (no problems outside though) and on a stretch of rail line between Sydney and Wollongong. Was flawless the entire Great Ocean Road and train to Katoomba. They asked for my passport when purchasing and local address… I gave them the hotel address in Sydney and it was no problem.
Thanks John — that’s a very good deal by Australian standards. Optus does seem to be particularly competitive at the moment!
Hi, would like to check, me and my friend are traveling to sydney and gold coast for 1 week, Basically we mainly need the data plan to navigate ourselves as well as to use it in hotels. Hence which prepaid sim card do you advise and how can I get it? thanks!
I haven’t researched specifically for your case, but as an example, you’d currently spend $14 AUD ($2 per day) for a week’s worth of data, calls and texts on the Optus ‘Prepaid Daily Plus’ plan. You can buy a SIM card with $10 worth of credit for $10, so you’d just need to top up with another few dollars, activate that plan and away you go. You get up to 500MB of data per day on that plan.
You should get decent coverage in Sydney and the Gold Coast, and can probably buy the SIM and top up when you arrive at the airport (Sydney, at least). If not, there are Optus stores in every major town and city in Australia.
I will be travelling to Tasmania for a week in Nov. Basically I need the data plan to use for checking emails and communication. Which prepaid sim card do you advise that it gives good coverage at country side also and how can I get it?
Telstra typically has the best coverage in rural areas, but it depends on where you’re going in Tasmania. Hobart, Launceston and other towns of reasonable size should have decent coverage with other providers, but if you’re in the middle of nowhere, you’ll probably want to use Telstra. Check the coverage maps on the various provider’s websites if you want to be sure.
In terms of how you buy the SIM, you’ll find official stores in major cities and towns, as well as mobile phone shops, electronics stores and supermarkets throughout the country.
Thanks for your reply.
I am going to Launceston and then heading south to Ross, Bicheno, Swansea and Hobart. I will have a check of the coverage maps on the various providers websites as per your suggestion.
Many thanks for the info.
No problem. For what it’s worth, when I was last in Tasmania I was using Optus prepaid, and had good coverage in all of the places you list (except Ross, which I didn’t visit).
Thanks for the tips, Dave 🙂
So thoughtful of you. Great honest info. I am travelling in a week to Australia. Hope to have a great time. Thanks again. Really appreciate your good work.
Amaysim are a solid all-round option, but if you’re exploring a lot of the country, you might find the coverage outside of the major cities a bit lacking. Also, while their international rates are good, they’re not the absolute best on the market.
I’d strongly recommend Lycamobile, who have amazingly low international call rates and use the Telstra 3G Wholesale network which offers better quality of coverage in the capital cities and a slightly better overall footprint of the country. The other option I would recommend if you’re doing a lot of travelling through rural and remote areas is Boost Mobile who use Telstra’s 3G and 4G networks, the largest network in Australia which covers twice the landmass of the Optus network that Amaysim uses.
All three can be ordered online, or you can pick up SIM cards from most Woolworths or Coles supermarkets as well as Kmart & Big W stores and even most petrol stations.
I am coming from the UK to Sydney for 5 months. Preferably I would like a working SIM card before I leave the UK – is there any way this is possible or would I have to sort this out in Australia?
There are probably companies and eBay sellers in Australia that will ship you a working SIM, but I don’t know of any off the top of my head. If you are using Three in the UK, you can also roam for free in Australia until you sort out a local SIM.
Hi Dave, great web site!
My situation is somewhat unique in that I will be LIVING in Australia (moving from the U.S) for 18 months, as opposed to a short vacation/trip. I “think” I’d like to bring my Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (Verizon currently) and use pre-paid SIMs while living in AU, but I’m not sure if I’m understanding the best options.
My priorities are:
1) Local calls and texting (in Australia)
2) Text messaging back and forth to the U.S. (I will use Skype for calling)
3) Probably some data, but probably not a high priority, unless it is used to accomplish #2 above.
Regarding #2, I am wide open to other technologies (texting apps) that use data instead of regular phone network texting to text back and forth between the U.S.
Also, as a side note, I’m a big Google Voice user (for forwarding calls, making calls, texting, and voicemail, too.) But I don’t know how that plays into my situation living in Australia, if at all.
My question is, what’s the least expensive way to accomplish my 3 objectives above?
Thanks for your expertise and advice.
A few thoughts:
– you’ll want to double check your Note has a SIM slot that’s unlocked for international use.
– as you’ll be living in Australia for over a year, it may be worth checking out postpaid plans as well. We don’t cover them on the site, but do a little research with both the resellers like Amaysim and Boost Mobile, and the carriers like Optus, to see what they’re offering.
– Google Voice works well internationally. I use it all the time for both voice and text, including in Australia
– I’d use WhatsApp and Google Voice in preference to sending international SMS, and Skype or Google Voice for voice calls.
– While you’re figuring out your usage patterns, I’d probably still look at an As You Go plan for voice and text with Amaysim, and a data pack of some sort. With less free WiFi than you’re used to back home, you’ll use data more than expected in Australia. Once you know what your usage looks like, you can switch to a different plan and/or provider as needed.
Hope that helps!
Thanks a lot for the info; all of it was very helpful.
Regarding making sure my Galaxy Note has a SIM slot that’s unlocked for international use, according to Verizon they no longer “lock” their Smartphones, at all, so it should be good to go.
One follow-up question regarding Google Voice. One of the features I use most of all is the follow-me number. Will people in the U.S. still be able to call my “local” Google Voice number and have it ring my new number in Australia? For some reason that seems to good to be true.
Same question with regard to sending me a text message. Will they be able to just send me a text as usual and I’ll receive it in Australia?
Good to hear about the unlocked SIM slot!
In terms of the follow-me stuff, sadly Google won’t let you forward incoming calls and texts directly to an international number. What I do instead is enable Google Hangouts to answer (and make) calls for that number. As long as you’ve got a data connection, the call will still “ring” on your phone, it’s just that it’s done through Hangouts rather than the phone dialer. Same thing happens with texts, they show up in Hangouts rather than your usual SMS app. We covered the process of setting that up here — some of the screens might have changed a bit, but I think the process is still pretty much the same.
For me this is a positive, as it means I can get calls and texts to that number no matter where I am in the world, and as long as I’ve got Wi-fi, I don’t even need a SIM card at that point.
That’s probably less of a benefit if you’re in one country for a year or more, but at least it’ll still work. 🙂
I’m coming to Australia for 5 months and was wondering which sim card would be the most appropriate for me.
– Mainly data usage
– some local calls
It sounds like you have similar usage patterns to me, so I’d check out the same Amaysim As You Go plan for voice and text, plus a data pack (1GB for $10, or 2.5GB for $20, probably) to start with. If you find you’re making quite a few local calls and texts, you can switch to something like the $25 unlimited call/text plan with 1.5GB of data, or $30 unlimited call/text with 3GB instead.
As I mentioned in the article, Amaysim has a whole bunch of plans, so it’s pretty easy to mix and match to find the one that suits your usage.
I’m coming to Australia for a 3 weeks travel. Visiting Adelaide and doing a road trip from Cairns to Sydney. I have a unlocked Samsung S3. I’ll use a lot Facebook, What’s up and SMS to Portugal, UK and Luxembourg. Which SIM card is the best for me ?
If you want as much coverage as possible on your road trip, you’ll probably want to go with a Telstra SIM, or one of its resellers like Boost Mobile.
I’m not very techy so please bear with me 😉
We’ll be travelling from the UK to Hong Kong to Australia (inc a weeks coastal road trip from Sydney to Melbourne) to Singapore and home again in December. My husband wants to get a Sim Card for his iPhone 6 so he doesn’t get harassed by work calls while we’re away but can still keep his phone fully functional. Any advice on this, please?
We’ve got advice on SIM cards for Australia in this article, and for Singapore here. None for Hong Kong at this point, unfortunately. If you buy a local SIM, you’ll achieve your goal — a different number, so no annoying work calls, but you’ll be able to use data, calls and texts as normal.
We are coming over from the US to visit family and friends primarily in Brisbane, Townsville, Mullumbimby and Forster/Tuncurry. We have unlocked iPhones and our US carrier is T-Mobile. I’d appreciate suggestions on which carrier is the best suited to that travel itinerary and which reseller will give us the best combination of price and service. Thanks.
Take a look at the coverage maps for both Telstra and Optus (linked near the top of this post), and see how they line up with your intended itinerary. If Optus coverage is sufficient, go with Amaysim. If it isn’t, Boost Mobile is your best choice for using Telstra’s network at an affordable price.
The other thing to mention, though, is if you’re on one of T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plans, you get free data and text roaming, and cheap-ish calls, in Australia. That may well cover your requirements without needing a local SIM at all, although you’d probably want to find out who their roaming partner is in Australia if you’re worried about coverage outside major towns and cities.
I have tried buying a sim from Amaysim but although I have given an address in Sydney their site won’t accept my passport details. I am only in Australia for a month travelling to Cairns, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth but would need a phone to arrange pick ups etc. Any ideas what to do now?
Contact their support via live chat – they were reasonably responsive when I had an activation issue.
Hello, I’m heading to Australia next month for 2 weeks in Melbourne, Frankston and Mornington Peninsula. Am planning on walking into a Telstra or similar store in Frankston to purchase a prepaid cell phone as my US phone has no support there. Along with my passport and friend’s local address, should I expect any difficulty in obtaining a cell phone?
Thanks in advance!
That’s how it’s supposed to work, yup. You’re unlikely to have a problem, especially buying a phone rather than just a SIM, but if you do, maybe just get your friend to go in and buy it on your behalf.
Great article on SIMs for Australia, and a great webite too. Lots of useful information.
I just had a Live Chat with Amaysim customer support. She told me that the only way to activate a new SIM is via the activtion page on their website. She insisted that over-the-air activation (using the new SIM in my iPhone) was not possible. As a tourist, I won’t have any internet access, so will have no way to activate the SIM.
If what she told me is accurate, I don’t see that Amaysim is a good choice for visitors to the country (unless they have internet access somewhere).
Yeah, over the air activation would definitely be preferable. That said, it’s getting easier to find cafes etc with free WiFi in Australia, and almost all hotels and hostels offer it (paid or otherwise). There’s even free public WiFi in places like Federation Square in Melbourne, so it’s relatively easy for tourists to get online long enough to complete the activation process.
Thanks a lot for the reply.
I’ve found that unlike Amaysim, a Boost SIM can be activated over-the-air. According to the Boost website, their SIM will permit an internet connection to their activation portal before the SIM has been activated.
As of this month (Oct 2016), compared to Amaysim, the Boost $40 pre-paid plan is a better offer for Canadian tourists with unlimited calls home. That, of course, is subject to change in the dynamic world of cellphone marketing.
Thanks again for the great website!
If Boost is offering a deal that better meets your needs, go for it! There’s nothing wrong with Boost at all — it has better coverage due to being on the Telstra network, plus the over-the-air activation you mention, so there’s nothing to lose. 🙂
pls how can i get Australia number that i can use on whatsapp?
By buying and using an Australian SIM card with a data package, then switching your number in WhatsApp to the new Australian number.
If you just want to use WhatsApp with your existing number while you’re in Australia, simply buy and use a SIM card as per the details in this post. You don’t need to change your WhatsApp number to match your new Australian one if you don’t want to, and for most short-term travellers in a different country, it’s easier not to.
My wife & I will be visiting Australia for a month soon and I just want to thank you for providing this information. It is so very useful! Thanks again.
No problem, Christopher — glad you found it helpful!
Dave, thanks for this informative post. Can you tell me if I will need a different SIM card for use in Australia and New Zealand?
There might be a few operators that let you roam between the two countries, but even if they do, it’s expensive. Unless you’re only in one or the other for a few days, you’ll be much better off with local SIMs in each country.
Very useful information on this blog, we are planning to travel to NZ and Australia this week. Any link to NZ service provider would be helpful.
Sure, you can find that here.
Thanks for the post on SIM cards. I’m heading down to Australia shortly from Chicago. I’ll pick something up once I arrive.
Very useful site, thank you. I have just bookmarked it for further study.
Heading to austrailia for military tour of 6 months. Currently have verizon. Need to video chat with family stateside usa. Looking for best option. Thoughts?
Without knowing where you’ll be based / going to, I don’t really have any specific suggestions beyond what’s written above. Before you go, just make check your phone has a GSM SIM card slot unlocked for international use (most recent Verizon iPhones do, for example), so you can use a SIM from one of the companies mentioned in this post and comments.
Thanks for the post. I will be travelling from melbounrne to brisbane
I will stay at Kyneton in melbourne,canberra,katoomba in sydney,newcastle,coffs harbour and byron bay. Which sim card is the best to buy now?
Im looking for more data,normal usage for calls.
And for 2 months.
All of those places should have good coverage with both Optus and Telstra (and their resellers, as listed in this post and the comments), so I’d just check which company has the best deal at the time you arrive and go with that one.
Thank you. This website helps loads
No problem — glad you find it useful! 🙂
We will travelling from Canada to Australia in next May and June.
I’d need to know if any of thd prepaid sim providers have a plan to call international on top of local calls and sms.
As we will need to call local and would like to keep in touch with Montreal, are the Australian international rates affordable?
Thank you in advance for your help!
International calling rates with the major Australian carriers have traditionally been quite expensive, but some of the resellers have better prices. Lycamobile (for instance) currently has calls to Canada for 1-3c/minute — details here.
You could also use Google Hangouts, which has free calls to the US and Canada (but you’ll be using your data allowance to do it, if you’re not on Wi-fi). We talk about setting that up here.
I really do appreciate your good work. Please, I will be coming to University of Adelaide, Waite Campus for my masters degree programme from Nigeria which will last for 2 years. Which sim will be the best for me with respect to cheap international (Nigeria) calls, local calls and 4G internet services and wide suburb coverage?.
As with the comment above this, Lycamobile offers reasonable rates to most overseas countries. Calls to Nigeria currently cost $0.01-0.15 AUD/minute, depending on which plan you’re on and whether you’re calling landline or mobile. Skype costs 0.125 EUR/minute to either landline or mobile, but does offer packages that bring the cost down, or you can do device-to-device Skype calls for free.
Regarding the rest of the requirements (local calls, high speed internet, wide coverage), recommendations for those are in the post and comments already. You should get good coverage with any major provider throughout most of Adelaide.
My son will be studying abroad in Melbourne starting in July for 5.5 months. We are with Verizon in the states? Should he pick up a Sim card here in the states or wait until he gets to Australia? He will be calling and texting to the states, but will use WIFI as much as possible. We are looking for something that will allow calls to home without costing an arm and leg.
If calls and texts back to the US are the main priority, and he’s happy to use Wifi to do it, use Google Hangouts / Google Voice. Calls to most US and Canadian numbers are free, via any Internet connection, including Wi-fi. Details here. If he also wants local calls, texts and data while in Melbourne (and he probably will), he should buy a SIM when he gets there, as per the info in this post.
Hi Dave it’s not which SIM card to buy but what type I’ve got a microsoft Lunima it’s got two SIM cards a micro and a nano which one do I need for a date and an Australian phone it might seem obvious but I’m a bit dim
Let me know the model number of your phone, and I’ll see if I can help.
Hi Dave it is aMicrosoft Lumia 550
There was a dual SIM version of that phone, although it looks like it was only available in ’emerging markets’ like India and China. The rest were single SIM, with a micro-SD card slot for extra storage.
In any case, as best I can tell, the nano SIM slot is the one you’ll want to use.
I will be visiting manily towns rural areas around Melbourne and a few days on Tasmania and want to buy a local SIM. But, my phone doesn´t support LTE. I love my little phone and would like to know if Telstra offer any options that would suit me. I don´t need any data at all (my tiny phone is a smart phone but I don´t use data at all on it), only texts and calls would be necessary.
I just got back from a trip to the US and I did run into problems there because all the pre paid plans I could find required LTE, even if I wanted only texts and calls, They did have plans that offered very little data but, the phone had to support LTE …
That requirement for LTE support won’t apply in Australia. To confirm, plug your phone model into this website, choose Australia and Telstra, and see what it tells you. If you get a tick against any of the results, you’ll be able to make calls and send texts.
Thank you very much that was very helpful. I checked the site you recommended and now know that I can use my “antique” little phone in Australia. PERFECT! 🙂
I thought I’d share our one month experience in Australia. When we arrived we got a $40 SIM from Telstra in Melbourne, which included 15gb data, unlimited calls & text (to USA as well). We used a lot of data traveling between Melbourne, driving the Great Ocean Road, and in Sydney.
Tip #1: make sure if you have your photos saved to the cloud that its only done over wifi, same thing goes with auto updates of apps.
We soon realized that we’re running out of data and needed more (we didn’t follow tip #1 right away). So we went back to Telstra to top off. The sales person was telling us that it’s something like $15/gb etc. We did some research later that day and found out that they offer a $10 sim with 1gb plus an extra bonus of 9gb! We would have to change our sim and thus get a new number, but that wasn’t a big deal at all. Plus you could activate whenever online (note that these sims expire after 1 week of activation).
Tip #2, this led me into thinking that next time we’re down under we’ll just buy a few of the $10 sim specials, activate them one by one, and be on our merry way.
I will be arriving in Melbourne on 6th Feb and will only stay until 10th (Saturday) for 3 days business meeting. What kind of sim you can recommend me and is it available to buy in the airport? How much will it cost me? Thank you.
Buy an Optus SIM at the airport. I don’t know what the minimum cost will be when you buy it there – it may be $10, it may be more. You’ll need to ask at the time.
Hi, having a good experience with amaysim. Bought a SIM card at 7-Eleven and used PayPal for payment and had it up and running in a couple of minutes. I used up my 1 gb in two weeks, but if you update to a bigger plan a new 28 days period is started immediately.
Hey, Dave. Going to New Zealand and Australia in May and your info for both countries is fantastic – thank you. I want to have my current phone available for communications with home (US) so am taking my now “backup” iPhone 5s to be used as the “local” phone. I’ll need it for a bit of walking-around GPS and contact with the rental apartment POCs in Auckland, Wellington, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. While I have the NZ sim plan nailed down, I’m not sure about the 2 weeks in Oz. Do you have a recommendation? Many thanks!
If you can get by with just 500MB of data, Optus has a $10 plan with unlimited calls and texts valid for three weeks that would cover your needs. Otherwise you’re best off with a different provider — Amaysim has a similar plan with 1GB of data and unlimited calls/texts for $10, or 2.5GB for $20.
Other providers may also have something that more closely matches your needs as well, if you’re happy to do a bit of digging around on their websites.
Hello Dave, Thank you for all the information. My wife and I are coming for 3 weeks. We just need her Iphone SE to work with data. very little calls and text to Canada. We will be traveling all over from Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns, Ularu and Melbourne. The link you gave for checking to see if the phone will work, we did and it will work. How much does a sim card cost? Then we pick a pre paid plan? What do you suggest? Thank you in advance for your Help
Depending on which company you buy from, SIM cards are either free or up to ten dollars. You then buy a call/text/data package that suits.
It looks like Optus’s $30 package is offering even more data than when I was last there — you’ll get 35GB, plus unlimited local calls and texts. You should get decent coverage in all the places you mention, and if you’re driving on the main highways on the east coast and/or flying between town and city destinations, you don’t need to worry so much about coverage levels in rural areas. It seems like a good choice for you. If not, take a look at Boost or Telstra.
Found this while looking for sim cards for Bali 🙂 I live in Australia and some of the cheapest plans you’ll find are plans with introductory pricing. For example I have really bad fixed line internet where I live so I get 5 dollar kogan mobile plans when they’re on sale which gives 40gb and unlimited calls and texts. They’re on vodafone however.
If you need heaps of data, e.g over 100gb your only real option is purchasing a prepaid sim from ovo or some other optus re sellers. This is due to optus and telstra etc only making large data plans available to those on post paid plans. However the plans for ovo with large data allowances e.g 250gb have no voice calls etc.
A good website for finding cheap sim deals is ozbargain. Basically people put cheap deals they’ve found around.
Hope this helps anyone 🙂
Just ordered my sim online via amaysim. Problem is I cannot activate it online as it needs a foreign passport that is not offshore. So my sim remains not active.
I’m not sure what you mean, sorry? I was able to activate my Amaysim SIM with a non-Australian passport, if that’s what you’re asking.