Global roaming is one of the most useful features on your mobile phone. If you’re overseas on a business trip or on holiday in some far-flung country, you can activate global roaming capability on your phone plan and make calls to your friends and family with ease, rather than having to stump up for an international SIM card or expensive local calls. We’ve rounded up the roaming offers provided by some of the major telcos so you can get an idea of what costs to expect when overseas. These are the offers available at time of writing, but always check current deals with the provider.
Optus offers a $10 travel pack, which gets you unlimited international calls and SMS along with 50MB of data, and lasts for one day. Optus divides countries into two zones. In Zone 1 countries, which include Europe, Asia and North America, calls are $1/min and texts 50c/min. In Zone 2 countries, including most of South America and Africa, prices are double those of Zone 1. Optus’s travel pack is only available in Zone 1 countries.
If you’re on a Telstra mobile plan, you can activate international roaming online or by calling Telstra up directly. The company offers several tiers of what they call an International Travel Pass; in a large number of countries, you can pay a flat fee to get unlimited international calls and texts, as well as a modest data allowance. This pass can last from as little as three days to up to a month, with longer time periods commanding a higher price.
Vodafone offers an innovative, catch-all approach to international roaming. For an extra $5 a day, you can use all the inclusions on your phone plan exactly as if you were still in Australia, at Australian rates. This applies to 47 different countries, including New Zealand, North America and most of Europe. In other countries, Vodafone’s international rates apply: $1/min for calls, $1 per MB of data and 75c per text.
Virgin Mobile’s international rates vary based on your current plan and the country you’re calling and/or texting to, with international calls coming out of your monthly plan credit rather than being something you need to purchase separately. Texts are charged at 45c each, and call rates can range from $2 a minute in New Zealand to over $10 a minute for more remote or obscure countries.
Remember to contact your provider before you leave the country. Without a roaming offer in place, you could be in for a nasty bill shock when you return.