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Similar to the other prepaid SIM card questions. What are my options in Australia if I'd like a prepaid SIM with mobile data? Since I'm travelling a lot, what would the operator be with the most coverage? I couldn't seem to find this question out there yet here at the travel SE.

  • Offers can vary over time, and also depend on how long you'll be there for. Between now and Christmas, for a short trip, Amaysim are your best bet as they've got a great offer on! – Gagravarr Dec 15 '14 at 11:33
  • Are you just after data, or minutes/texts too? Just asking because the various operators generally offer data-only sim cards (mainly meant to be used in tablets, but they'll also work fine in phones of course). Anyways, there are really only 3 networks: Telstra, Optus & Vodaphone, of which Telstra is the biggest player. I travelled 'around the block' with a Telstra sim for nearly 6 months and was quite satisfied with coverage. Be sure to check out the coverage maps of the operators though, if there are any particular areas you're interested in. – MH. Dec 15 '14 at 12:36
  • @MH. Minutes and text should be included to call local friends and/or hostels if anything goes wrong. Ok thanks I'll look into their coverage, thanks! – Peter Raeves Dec 15 '14 at 16:53
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There are only three operators in Australia that actually own and operate their own networks, and they are:

  • Telstra, the former state monopoly. My usual recommendation if you're planning to travel even slightly off the beaten track, since they have the widest network by a long shot, but a bit more expensive than the competition.
  • Optus, an arm of Singapore's SingTel, and a good choice if you want to save a few pennies and are sticking mostly to the cities.
  • Vodafone aka Vodafail, the local branch of the multinational, infamous for poor coverage and network instability issues and recommended only if you're a masochist. As a representative anecdote, two friends of mine who worked for Vodafone had their wedding in Yarra Valley, a popular tourist destination just outside Melbourne, and the winery they chose, 1 km off the main highway, had zero Vodafone coverage. Both have now quit, and neither uses Vodafone any more!

All three have booths just outside Customs at both Sydney and Melbourne (and probably other major airports too). I'm not going to go into plan details, since these change at the drop of a hat, but at time of writing (Dec 2014) Optus's $2/day with 500MB/day plan is about as good as it gets.

It's probably worth mentioning that comparing plans in Australia is (intentionally) really difficult, since all operators work on a basis of giving you funny money and pricing everything in funny money. For example, paying $20 might get you $200 of "credit", but phone calls then cost you $7/min (actually $0.70/min), and of course the ratio of real money to credit varies based on the operator and plan you pick.

There are also "virtual operators" (MVNO) like Amaysim and Lebara that license the big boys' networks. They claim to be cheaper, and occasionally may be, but tend to have really shoddy customer support, puny data speed limits in the small print, etc. The small savings aren't worth the potential for big hassle in my opinion, but YMMV.

Source: Have used SIMs from all three companies, and seen my wife struggle with a MVNO I shall not deign to advertise. Currently on Telstra and happy with it.

  • Even their individual websites are a mess. I had to scroll all the way down, just to get the actual pre-paid rates. They kept offering me phones instead... Oh well, thanks for the reply, it held a lot! – Peter Raeves Dec 16 '14 at 22:12
  • I know loads of people who use Amaysim and find them much better than Optus, who's network they use, and customer services seem fine! – Gagravarr Dec 16 '14 at 23:06
  • Virgin is a very large reseller of Optus that is generally cheaper than Optus. I'd recommend them over any of the others as the best balance between coverage (better than Vodafone) and price (better than Telstra and Optus). – dlanod Dec 16 '14 at 23:07
  • May you please also consider answering to this question: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/59534/… – PHPst Dec 5 '15 at 11:10
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Just to expand on the list, you might also want to check out Yomojo which replaced Yatango Mobile.

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