If there's one thing most of us want access to while overseas (besides our passports), it's our phones. Not only can a handset help you navigate unfamiliar territory, it will also keep you in contact with your loved ones back home.
That said, even the best of holidays can be spoiled by excessive international roaming charges, which is why it's a good idea to make sure your phone plan has you covered when you're outside of Australia.
Sure, you could always save money buy purchasing a SIM card at your destination and using one of its local telcos, though you may find some barriers for entry — not every country makes it easy, and some carriers even require you to provide a local address. On top of these hurdles, you'll also have a different phone number.
Of course, it's always going to be easier to simply keep your current Australian number and not have to worry about switching out SIM cards. However, you will need to consider how much your telco charges per day to use your phone overseas, along with the amount of mobile data that cost entitles you to.
To get you up to speed, we've collaborated with WhistleOut (opens in new tab) to detail what each of Australia's three major telcos (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone) offers in terms of international roaming (including how much they cost per day, and what kind of daily data allowance you can expect.
Telstra international roaming
While Telstra is undoubtedly a top dog within Australia, its value offering is a lot less appealing once you venture beyond our shores.
When you arrive in another country with data roaming enabled on your phone, Telstra's International Day Pass will kick in automatically at a cost of AU$10 per day. For that price, you get unlimited talk and standard text (MMS will cost you AU$0.75 per pic) and 1GB of data (unless you've travelled to New Zealand, in which case the day pass will only cost you AU$5). If you exceed that daily allowance, you will be charged an additional AU$10 (or AU$5 in NZ) for another gigabyte.
Thankfully, Telstra roaming is widely available, with full access in 73 countries, and limited access (only calls and text, no data) in seven additional destinations. Here are the top three Telstra plans which include international data roaming.
Optus international roaming
Optus is far more generous than Telstra when it comes to international roaming, with Australia's second biggest telco offering five times the daily data allowance at half the price. Customers on postpaid Optus plans will get unlimited talk and text and 5GB of data for only AU$5 per day, which is quite a good deal. All you have to do is activate the Optus International Roaming Add-on in the My Optus app.
Additionally, Optus customers also have the option of paying for a week upfront, with a 7-day pass getting you 35GB of data with unlimited talk and text for AU$35. Of course, there isn't really any benefit to doing this outside of convenience, with the price working out the same either way.
Impressively, Optus' roaming add-on works in over 100 'Zone 1' destinations, which is significantly more than what Telstra is offering. Of course, if you do find yourself in one of the remaining 'Zone 2' destinations, you'll have to pay the standard international rates, which'll certainly cost you. Here are the top three Optus plans which include international data roaming.
Vodafone international roaming
While Vodafone is certainly in third place when it comes to coverage within Australia, the carrier has a far greater global reach than its competitors, operating its own networks in 21 countries, with network partnership agreements with local carriers in 47 more.
Because of this, Vodafone is able to offer its customers a far more seamless international roaming experience than Telstra or Optus. For just AU$5 per day in over 100 countries, Vodafone customers get full access to their Aussie plan's usual inclusions — no need to worry about daily data allowances. Please note, Vodafone's AU$5 roaming can only used for a maximum of 90 days per calendar year.
That said, if you do go over your usual monthly data cap, Vodafone will charge you AU$5 for each additional gigabyte of usage. Here are the top three Vodafone plans which include international data roaming.
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Given the seamless nature of Vodafone's international roaming experience, in that you get access to the same amount of data you'd normally have within Australia in over 100 countries, and its low AU$5 daily cost, Vodafone is the clear winner.
That said, Optus' international roaming add-on is not to be sneezed at, offering decent value for money and far more overseas data than Telstra.
For those who aren't planning to travel overseas anytime soon, here are the best SIM only plans in Australia.