Best SIM cards for travellers visiting Australia
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. At least, there shouldn’t be if you’re a sensible, forward-thinking traveller.
The reasons why you’ll need to stay just a tiny bit in contact can vary from person to person. Family/pet emergencies could crop up. You could lose your passport or have your bank account emptied or frozen. Bad luck (or excessive “holidaying”) might deal you some sort of legal or health trouble. Heck, an elderly relative may require emergency advice on how to make their TV record sports at 2 a.m. (your time) or you may have to placate your mum because she’s had a nightmare about you not packing any underwear. Admittedly, those last two could be just an us thing.
Whatever the case, you’re going to need our prepaid SIM best picks for travellers and tourists that is about to sort the sensibly priced wheat from the needlessly wallet-destroying chaff. We’re going to focus in on no-contract SIMs only today, and travel SIM cards for travellers visiting Australia. 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.
How we chose our best picks
We’re going to dive into the best plans in a second, but for now let’s talk about our criteria. Every tourist’s needs are going to be different, however, here’s a quick rundown of the most important plan features as we see them.
This list will be centred only on prepaid or no-contract SIMs only. This is where you can get the most value for money while avoiding any fineprint cancellation fees or hellacious 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. No thanks to those surprises, we’ll be sticking with the prepaid options with an expiry of 28 days minimum.
We’re also going to focus on options that have wide availability at Australian international airports or major convenience stores. Lastly, the idea is to lean towards options that have international calls included and foreign language customer support in case one or some of the aforementioned unthinkables happen.
Best SIM overall
So, let’s kick this off with the pick of the litter. Though there are plenty of third-party carriers available in this great sunburnt country of ours, we think that the best option for travellers is Telstra’s Pre-Paid Max range of value filled SIM kits. In particular, their 28 day expiry offering is the happy middle ground that offers the best all-round pick for value, coverage and data. Other bells and whistles include a data bank that allows the rolling over of your precious, unspent GBs, generous data bonuses for recharging and unlimited international calls to the widest destination pool of any carrier out there.
Failing Telstra, we’d point you in the direction of Boost Mobile, a Mini-me company that’s closely allied with Australia’s biggest network. Compared to the other third parties out there, Boost enjoys some network coverage favouritism, though their range of products and deal options are much more limited than Telstra’s.
Best SIM with big data
For our best plan pick with at least 20GB of data, we landed on the data-full offerings of Optus’ Prepaid Epic Data range. Not only do you get unlimited national talk and text (plus unlimited international to 15 destinations), a 10GB chunk of your considerable data allowance can be freely spent on streaming services like Netflix and Stan. Even better, you can stockpile by rolling over any unused data up to 200GB if you recharge before expiry.
Failing Optus, we’d recommend looking to Amaysim for your more data intensive activities. They offer an allowance size to suit almost everybody in their SIM-only plans. Towards the deeper end of this pool, you’ll start to see unlimited international calls (to 10 destinations) thrown in, plus the highly prized “unlimited mobile data” option. Perfect for the traveller who has to livestream every waking moment of their holiday.
Best SIM for budget travel
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 Amaysim’s Unlimited 1.5GB plan, the best option for well under $20 per month. It’s cheap like the budgie and lets you easily converse with the natives via unlimited talk & text to standard numbers in Oz.
We’ve also had our head turned by the very affordable Mini Plus plan from OVO Mobile. Their deal also keeps the outlay to well under 20 clams while giving you unlimited talk and text in Australia. That said, Ovo is a relative newcomer compared to Amaysim and we err on the side of experience with our carriers.
Best SIM for the outback
You’ll not have too big a head-scratching decision with this one. Telstra and Boost Mobile plans are pretty much 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. That being said, we’d recommend Telstra’s Pre-Paid Max SIM Starter Kit for the widest coverage possible for your walkabout activities.
The worthy alternative to The Big T is Boost’s Starter Prepaid pack. Typically the trade off here is their deals tend to offer you more data for your money, though in our experience the higher 4Gx speeds are reserved for Telstra customers.