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Best SIM cards for travellers visiting Australia
Our top picks for your Aussie sojourn.
If you're travelling to Australia for a holiday, work trip or family visit, you'll want to know which is the best prepaid SIM card for your needs based on your budget, phone usage habits and data needs.
Take a tip from a veteran jet-setter: though the romanticised version of a holiday abroad is one of severing all connection to the boring everyday, you're still going to need at least one effective line of communication intact. There is no escape from reality. Not truly.
Whatever the case, you're going to need a good SIM plan to accompany you on your travels. Whether you're backpacking on a budget or travelling out to regional and remote areas, we've laid out options for folks with a range of needs.
Best SIM card for travellers in Australia overall
Boost Mobile is closely allied with Australia's biggest network, Telstra. So closely allied, in fact, that they have access to the full Telstra network, which covers 99.4% of the population. Considering every other provider on the Telstra network only gets access to part of it, Boost is your best bet without having to pay Telstra's premium prices.
The most popular Boost Mobile plan (and the one that should suit most travellers) is their $30 Prepaid SIM. For your money, you'll get at least 20GB of data (Boost often runs bonus data promos), unlimited calls and text within Australia, unlimited international calls to 20 countries, and 300 minutes to an additional 30 countries. This plan lasts for 28 days, but if you're staying longer, whatever data you don't use will roll over to the next month.
To see how that compares to other SIM plans, here are the most popular plans around $30 in Australia right now. However, keep in mind that not all of these providers offer the same coverage or international inclusions as the Boost plan above.
Australia has three major phone networks: Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. Telstra is our oldest telecom and covers 99.4% of the Australian population. Optus isn't far behind with 98.5% coverage, and Vodafone is in third with about 96%. If getting good reception during your holiday is important to you, Telstra (or a provider that uses the Telstra network, like Boost Mobile and Aldi Mobile) is your best bet. However, if you're on a budget or are sticking to mainly metropolitan areas and large regional centres, Optus, Vodafone, and other providers that run on their respective networks (like Amaysim and Lebara) are generally much cheaper. There's no clear-cut "best" network in Australia - it's more a matter of what's most important to you: Coverage or cost.
Best big-data SIM card for travellers in Australia
You're going to need a lot of data to share all those happy snaps and Instagram stories, and if you're a particularly heavy data user, you'll need a plan that can keep up with your needs. If you're after both data and some international calls, Amaysim is pretty hard to beat. Each of its plans priced at $30 or more comes with a healthy dose of data, unlimited talk and text in Oz, and unlimited international calls and texts to 28 or 42 countries, depending on the price of your plan. It also runs on the Optus network, which is Australia's second-largest.
For real data gluttons, you'll want to go with the $50 UNLIMITED Plan. You'll get a generous 80GB of data to use, but this gets boosted pretty often with frequent bonus data deals.
If you're happy to go without international calls, there are even better deals to be had for data lovers. Here are the most popular contract-free plans offering at least 75GB of data.
Best budget SIM card for travellers in Australia
We see where your head is at. You've dropped a considerable chunk of money on getting Down Under and you'd much rather spend your remaining funds on the finer things. For you, we'd recommend Lebara Mobile's $14.90 Extra Small Plan. For less than the price of a cocktail at a Sydney bar, you'll get unlimited talk and text within Australia, 3GB of data, 300 minutes of international calls to 8 selected countries, and $3 extra international call credit. It's a great match for people looking to stick to Wi-Fi for most of the trip, but who need a little emergency data for peace of mind.
There's even better value to be had if you open the playing field up to providers that don't offer international calls, but keep in mind some of these SIM plans might not be easy to find at an airport or convenience store. Here are the most popular no-contract plans under $15 in Australia.
Best SIM card for travellers in the Australian outback
You'll not have too big a head-scratching decision with this one. Telstra and Boost Mobile plans are the only two providers available that offer access to the full Telstra network, and you'll need that if you're going to go bush. With that in mind, there are plenty of different plans to choose from, depending on your budget and data needs. Both providers' plans offer some international calls, but only Boost offers unlimited international calls - Telstra only comes with 30 international minutes.
With that in mind, here are all of Telstra and Boost Mobile's contract-free and prepaid plans, sorted by popularity.
Best SIM for a quick trip in Australia
If you're only in Oz for a short stay, you'll be happy to hear you don't have to settle with a more expensive 28 or 30-day plan like those listed above. Both Optus and Amaysim (which both run on the Optus network) offer shorter-term prepaid plans. Our top pick is Amaysim's $10 7-day UNLIMITED Plan, which comes with 10GB of data, unlimited talk and text in Australia and even unlimited international calls to 42 countries.
If you'd rather go day-to-day, Optus's Flex plans include a $1 per day subscription plan or $7 per 7 days, each offering 1GB data per day and unlimited Australian talk in text. On the downside, there are no international call inclusions.
How we chose our best picks
Every tourist's needs are going to be different, however, here's a quick rundown of what we consider the most important plan features.
Our picks are centred on prepaid or no-contract SIMs only with a maximum expiry of 30 days. This is where you can get the most value for money while avoiding any fine print cancellation fees or surcharges for going over your allotted amount of call time or data usage. Trust us — there's nothing worse than coming back home to find your bank account has taken a hit from holiday expenses and some fees you were up until now blissfully unaware of.
We also focused on options that have wide availability at Australian international airports and major convenience stores, as well as international call inclusions and foreign-language customer support.