Travel SIMs & Roaming Packs

Canstar Blue’s 2021 review of travel SIMS and international roaming plans compares Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone on their value for money, customer service, network coverage, sign-up and activation, ease of recharge and overall customer satisfaction.

See our Ratings Methodology.

Most Satisfied Customers | Telstra

Canstar Blue’s 2021 Travel SIM and international roaming ratings saw the three big telcos go head-to-head on their overseas roaming packs and add-ons. Beating out Optus and Vodafone, winner Telstra received five stars across almost all of our research categories, including customer service, network coverage and overall satisfaction.

Fact Checked Fact Checked

Plane talking: Telstra is number one for international roaming plans

These days, travel SIMs and international roaming packs are abundant. They make it easy to prepare for your international trip before you jet off – simply buy a roaming pack or SIM, switch your phone on when you land, and you’re good to go. Gone are the days when you’d get by with a printed map and a last-minute postcard home. Thanks to smartphones, you’ve got everything you need to navigate, and stay in touch with family, in the palm of your hand.

However, not all travel SIMs and international roaming packs are created equal. Some roaming packages offer low rates and great value – but pick the wrong SIM or plan, and you run the risk of coming home to an unexpectedly high bill. That’s why Canstar Blue seeks the opinions of hundreds of Aussie jetsetters every year to get their views on the best travel SIMs and roaming packs they’ve used on their recent travels. There’s now an abundance of phone plans offering solutions for those who head overseas – coming in all shapes and sizes – so our annual review aims to cover all bases and get to the bottom of which provider offers the best deal for Aussies on the move.

In our fourth Travel SIM & Roaming Packs ratings report, only three telcos offering travel SIM products made the final cut. Many of last year’s included brands – such as TravelSIM and Australia Post’s FlexiSIM – have been closed or discontinued after the sharp decline in international travel throughout 2021, so have been removed from this year’s ratings. 

While it hasn’t been a travel-friendly 12-month period for Australians, our 2021 ratings still give a good indication of the products and providers that have previously ticked our boxes when it comes to international roaming – so are worth considering if you’re planning a 2022 getaway.

Best for Travel SIMs & Roaming Packs

close-up view of young woman checking roaming on her mobile phone

Our 2021 review of travel SIMs and roaming packs saw five brands compared and rated in the following order for overall customer satisfaction:

  1. Telstra
  2. Vodafone
  3. Optus

Surpassing more specialised travel brands this year is telco giant Telstra, which takes home the gold with a five-star rating for overall satisfaction. It seems Telstra customers are more than happy with the mobile provider’s range of international roaming options, awarding the telco five stars not just for overall satisfaction, but also in contested categories including customer service, network coverage, ease of recharge, sign up and activation and for use of its app. 

So, who offers what? Read on for details as we explain what these providers can do for you the next time you head overseas.

Selection of Plans with Roaming Features

To give you an idea of the plans available with international roaming features, the table below lists a selection of postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of advertised cost, lowest cost first, then by data allowance. Use our comparison tool to see a wide range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

To give you an idea of the plans available with international roaming features, the table below lists a selection of prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of advertised cost, lowest cost first, then by data allowance. Use our comparison tool to see a wide range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Travel SIMs & Roaming Packs Compared

Telstra International Roaming

Telstra offers a per-day roaming option that allows customers to use capped data, plus unlimited talk and text, in many selected countries. International Day Pass is available to postpaid customers for an additional $10 per day (or $5 in New Zealand) and gives you a daily data allowance of 500MB, plus unlimited calls and messages. Telstra’s International Day Pass is only charged on days you use your phone, and is available to use in over 70 countries.

You can activate Day Pass through the MyTelstra app at any time, and use this service to monitor your mobile and data usage when overseas. If you require more data, you can also use the Telstra app to add on an International Roaming Data Pack. This pack includes 1GB of data for $10, to be used in eligible destinations over 30 days. 

Pay-as-you-go-roaming is also available in those countries that aren’t covered by Telstra’s Day Pass, with rates for popular destinations such as the USA and UK around $2-3 per minute for calls, 75c per SMS sent, and $3 per megabyte of data. Unfortunately, international roaming is no longer available to Telstra prepaid customers, so you’ll need to be on an Upfront/postpaid plan to use your Telstra service outside of Australia. 

Telstra scored five stars for overall satisfaction in our 2021 ratings, and earned five stars for network coverage, sign up, customer service, ease of recharge and for its app.

Vodafone International Roaming

Vodafone’s main global roaming option is the $5 Roaming add-on, available on all postpaid plans. For $5 per day, you’ll be able to use your plan’s inclusions – unlimited calls, texts, and your max speed data allowance – in 80 countries. You’ll only be charged $5 on days you actually use your device, and the feature is already pre-activated for most customers. It’s a convenient option for anyone wanting to keep their own number and phone when outside Australia, and much cheaper than pay-as-you-go roaming.

Unfortunately, $5 roaming isn’t available for prepaid customers, but you can buy roaming add-ons for prepaid plans. Add-ons begin from $5 for 200GB of data, 25 minutes of calls and 30 SMS with a one-day expiry, and can be used in over 50 countries. Pay-as-you-go roaming is also available on all plans if necessary, with rates of $1 per minute for calls, 75 cents per SMS sent, and $1 per megabyte of data.

Vodafone’s travel options scored an overall satisfaction result of four stars in 2021,with five-star ratings for value for money, customer service and its app/website.

Optus International Roaming

If you’re an Optus postpaid customer, you can switch on the telco’s Roaming Pass before heading overseas. For $10 per day, you’ll get unlimited standard talk and SMS, plus 1GB of daily data to use over 24 hours in 90 destinations. You’ll only be charged for days you actually use your device overseas, but keep in mind that data use over 1GB in a single day will automatically add another $10 pass to your account.

If you’re a prepaid customer, you can add $10 Travel Credit, $10 or $20 Extras Credit, or $20 Data Roaming add-ons to cover any usage overseas. Prepaid roaming rates depend on your destination, but Zone 1 countries are usually charged at 50c per minute for calls, 20c for sent SMS, and 2c per megabyte of data.

Optus was rated three stars for overall satisfaction in our 2021 review, with four-star scores for ease of recharge and for its app.

Why do Aussies use travel SIMs and international roaming?

Modern communication technology mobile phone high tech

Travel is expensive enough without the added stress of excessive mobile roaming fees: you’ve no doubt heard horror stories about Aussies who went overseas, only to return home with a $1,000+ phone bill. Nowadays, this can be easily mitigated through the use of prepaid travel SIMs, as well as international roaming add-ons from the big telcos.

Most Australians who use travel SIMs or packs do so to avoid any post-holiday bill shock. 64% of this year’s survey respondents bought a travel SIM or international roaming add-on because traditional roaming is simply too expensive. And they have a point! Convenience is also a factor. 55% bought a travel SIM or pack because finding a local SIM card in the country they are in was too hard – they’d just prefer to hit the ground running!

Half of survey respondents are also experienced in international travel – 50% have used their travel SIM or roaming pack in multiple countries, while 17% had to purchase multiple SIMs on their last overseas trip. And while there’s still a need for talk and text inclusions, 56% of respondents stated that they used their plan mostly for data.

In good news, 61% of Aussies surveyed agreed that they’d recommend their travel SIM to family and friends. So well over half of us are satisfied with the SIM or roaming pack used during our last overseas trip, but there’s still room for improvement. 

Aussies love to travel overseas, but want to make sure they’re getting the most for their money when it comes to roaming. Our user ratings provide a helpful guide as to which travel SIMs and roaming packs are offering the best value, because they’re reviewed by people who have actually used them. With that in mind, we hope you find this comparison helpful.

Compare Plans & Prices

Image credits: Georgejmclittle, Pathdoc

Frequently Asked Questions

Canstar Blue surveyed 12,316 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have used a SIM Card or roaming pack for overseas travel in the last 2 years (not including for use in Australia or SIM cards purchased overseas)– in this case, 1,298 people.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

2019: SIM Corner


Latest Phone Articles

Best Netflix Watches

The best shows on Netflix Australia

Review the most bingeworthy Netflix shows in Australia, including Mindhunter, Fargo, Mad Men, The Confession Tapes and more at Canstar Blue.

– Read more

What are the best phone plans for Aussie kids?

What are the best phone plans for kids? Canstar Blue compares good mobile options for children and provides tips on what to look for.

– Read more
mobile phone plan deals

What are the best mobile phone plan deals?

If you’re shopping around for a new mobile phone plan, keep an eye out for these deals. Compare phone plan deals with Canstar Blue.

– Read more
best phone plans on the Telstra network

What are the best phone plans on the Telstra network?

Compare phone plans on the Telstra network. Canstar Blue reviews 7 service providers and 60+ plans to help you find a better deal on the Telstra network.

– Read more
best phone plans on Optus network

What are the best phone plans on the Optus network?

In a sea of competition, many providers piggyback off of the Optus network to deliver outstanding value. Find out which ones are the best with Canstar Blue.

– Read more