Using Your Mobile When Travelling to Australia
What to do with your phone
Our Online Chat facility is regularly used by people looking to travel to Australia wondering what they should do with their mobile phone service.
If you are travelling to Australia, then there are a few questions you need to consider:
Will your phone work in Australia?
Many mobile phones used in North America are CDMA band phones only, and will not work in Australia. Still, you can purchase an inexpensive handset ($50) and then get the appropriate SIM card. If your phone is promoted as "GSM", "tri-band" or "quad-band" it should work in Australia.
Where are you travelling to and where will you be staying?
If you are staying in a major city then you can consider any of the major 3 providers in Telstra, Optus or Vodafone. Within our capital cities they should all work reasonably well. Also, by sticking to one of these majors, if you need assistance, you could just pop into one of their many stores.
If you are travelling into rural Australia, either to stay or using a bus or train to get from one city to the next, then I would only recommend Telstra. This is your best bet to ensure you have coverage.
Whilst Optus will most certainly work in outback Australia, if your are visiting our lovely country then I want you to have an enjoyable time without the frustrations of communication tools not working. Sticking with Telstra might mean you pay slightly more, it also means that it should work every time where ever you are.
What kind of plan do I need?
Prepaid is the best option. Some people choose to use their own Sim card, but the international roaming charges are excessive. If your stay is extended then you could consider a No Contract Plan, however this may require some form of credit check.
In order to use a prepaid plan, you must ensure that your phone is unlocked. By selecting a prepaidplan you will be receiving a new mobile number to use whilst you are on your trip.
How do I get started?
By sticking to prepaid, you can get started the minute you arrive by visiting a retail outlet within the Airport complex itself. This would apply to all of the major capital city airports. Pop into a telecommunications store or even a newsagency and pick up a prepaid sim card from there. The kit will include instructions on how to activate it. Remember that you will be given a new mobile number to use whilst you are here. You may wish to divert your existing number to it.
Once your sim is activated, you then need to recharge. In some cases you will need to select the sim card that relates to the plan you are after. Some offer a common sim, you then nominate the plan upon activating.
Are you looking to make calls home (overseas) using your mobile or just local calls?
If you are looking to make calls back home, then consider a prepaid sim plan that also has competitive international calling rates. Optus, Virgin, and Vodafone offer prepaid mobile plans that offer competitive international call rates.
There are cheaper plans that what is offered by the larger providers. If you are game to try a provider that does not have a retail presence to assist you if necessary then consider gotalk, Lebara Mobile or even Lyca Mobile. They all come with very competitive rates.
Alternatively you can also try a Prepaid Calling Card that you can buy for as little as $10 and use from a land line (or mobile). It will give you plenty of call time at very affordable rates. We cover quite a few of them on the prepaid plans site. These cards can be purchased from any convenience store as well as the Airport when you arrive.
Using Mobile Internet when in Australia?
Many of the prepaid mobile plans offered by Optus, Vodafone and Telstra also include a data allowance. They will also come with free social media access to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Ebay. For many this will be enough.
These plans will also come with online access so that you can check your usage whilst you are here and top up your credit if and when necessary.
Manage you Optus Prepaid Mobile Account
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