Back in the day, using your Australian phone abroad would mean high usage costs and limited connectivity, if it even worked at all. These days, international...
Are you planning a trip abroad and are concerned about expensive usage while you’re away? Perhaps you have a work business trip coming up, and you’ll need to be using your phone more than usual.
It would be worth you looking into an international travel SIM card, as these can save you money and make your trip less stressful.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about getting an international travel SIM card in Australia for your next trip abroad, including what they are, how they differ from roaming plans with your provider, plus some examples of travel SIM cards that are currently on the market.
|💸 Hold over 40 currencies in your account and spend at the mid-market exchange rate with the Wise Debit card while abroad.|
International SIM cards are pre-paid travel SIMs that provide you with a set amount of calls/text/data that can be used while abroad. These SIM cards will connect to a local network in the country you’re exploring, and prevent you from accidentally overspending on roaming charges while abroad.
There is a range of options available to consumers, each with different pre-paid plans that will suit different preferences such as data-only plans or only calls/texts.
There are some key differences between using a travel SIM card vs a roaming plan with your service provider.
Here are some of the main differing factors between these two options:
|Travel SIM Card||Roaming Plans|
|Prepaid with a set amount of data/calls/texts||Charged either via roaming fees per minute for calls, per text for messages, and per MB for data or via a roaming plan. Some providers will provide free roaming as part of a standard plan, but this is not the norm.|
|Fees are generally more affordable than roaming charges||Roaming fees are usually more expensive than a standard plan/travel sim.|
|Can be used to visit different regions/countries||Roaming charges will change depending on region/country|
|Phone number will generally change||Phone number will stay the same|
|Compatible with multiple devices||Usable for your phone only|
You don’t necessarily need a different SIM card for travelling abroad, as most networks have roaming services/packages that you can use when going away.
However, these services are usually charged at a much higher rate than your standard plan or travel SIM cards, which is why many people decide to use a dedicated travel SIM when going abroad.
There are many benefits of using a dedicated travel SIM card when travelling abroad. Here are some key reasons why it’s worth considering:
- You’re charged local rates - Once you’ve reached your destination country, you’ll be charged the local rates when using your phone. These are generally much cheaper than roaming charges from your provider.
- Generally affordable - Travel SIM cards are generally considered to be more affordable than roaming charges or a roaming plan.
- Prepaid - Most travel SIM cards are prepaid, meaning that you may for a set amount per month/time period that you’re abroad in return for a number of texts, minutes, and/or data.
- Compatible with different devices - If you plan on using a tablet or other phone while away, travel SIM cards are usually compatible with a range of devices.
- Incoming calls are generally free - You won’t typically be charged for incoming calls when using a travel SIM card, whereas you may be charged to accept an incoming call with standard roaming rates.
Below we’ve included the main providers of international travel SIM cards in Australia. Each has different features and benefits that will suit different people depending on their travel preferences.
The Airalo Discover Global eSIM is an international travel SIM card that provides you with data that can be used in over 84 countries.¹
With plans ranging from 1GB - 20 GB, there is a range of options to suit your data usage, and validity varies from 7 days - 180 days meaning you can tailor your plan to how long you plan to be away.¹
Plans start from $9 US for 7 days of usage and increase to $89 US for 180 days. This eSIM can be activated and managed using the Airalo app, and Airalo claim to be trusted by over 1,000,000 people worldwide.¹
The Keepgo Lifetime World SIM is another travel SIM focused on data, with plans ranging from 100MB at $3 US - 25GB at $250 US. A key benefit of this travel SIM is that your data won’t expire as long as you top up each year (minimum top-up of $3 US).²
With Keepgo there are no monthly payments, no contracts/extra fees, plus you can use your phone as a hotspot and for tethering purposes.²
Australia Post offers an international travel SIM that is great if you’re looking for a budget option. Plans start from 2GB for $10AU with a 30 days expiry and scale up to 100GB for $150 with a 365-day expiry.³
Plans offer a data rollover to a maximum of 100GB and provide unlimited calls and texts for those with Australian mobile numbers. You’ll receive your money back if you experience coverage issues while using their service abroad, plus you can gift some of your mobile data to friends and family.³
Yes - you’ll have to double-check that your phone is compatible with a travel SIM card, however, once this has been confirmed you can purchase a travel SIM card before you leave or they can be bought at the airport/at a provider’s stores.
The cheapest way to use your phone overseas is by exclusively using Wi-Fi. However, if you don’t want to be restricted to WiFi networks, a travel SIM card will be the cheapest option for you.
Yes - most international SIM cards can be used across multiple countries. Always check the features of a travel SIM card before purchasing it to make sure it works in multiple countries if you’re travelling.
When you put an international SIM card into your phone, your phone will be charged at local rates instead of via your network provider’s roaming fees.
Yes, most international SIM cards include a set amount of prepaid texts that you can use while travelling abroad. Always double-check different travel SIM cards to ensure you purchase the best SIM card for your circumstances.
With a Wise Account you can hold money in over 40 currencies and spend it in over 160 countries. Whenever you exchange currencies it’s done using the mid-market rate with a low conversion fee shown upfront.
To make everyday spending easier you can order a Wise Debit card for your Wise Account and generate virtual cards as needed. If you have the local currency in your Wise Account the Wise card will use it and charge no fees. If you don’t, it uses smart technology to auto-convert your money at the mid-market rate, for a low conversion fee.
Join over 13 million customers currently using Wise. It’ll only take a few minutes to register and see what’s inside.
- Local and regional eSIMs for travellers - Airalo
- World SIM card with prepaid data valid Forever - Keepgo
- $10 Plan (includeds SIM starter pack) - Australia Post Mobile and Broadband
Sources checked on: 30 June 2023
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
When travelling within Australia or abroad there are so many decisions to make, including where to stay, what to do and how to get around. One of the most...
When travelling abroad, some Aussies have the misconception that the Australian Government would help with medical treatment if necessary.³ While it’s true...
For 42% of Australians, the cost of the flights will determine their holiday destinations.⁸ To stay within the budget, it’s important to plan for any...
Airfares are rising, with flights from Australia being 50% more expensive on average than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic.³ So, having travel insurance...
Although most experiences while travelling will be fun-filled and positive, in some cases, emergencies may happen. Travel insurance exists to make sure that...