While Australian mobile carriers continue to slash the cost of global roaming, the best value is still a prepaid SIM card from the country you're visiting – and it's now possible to pick one up before leaving Australian soil.
Recently opened at Melbourne International Airport and with similar stores at Sydney Airport and online, retailer SimCorner stocks SIM cards from a number of countries including the USA, China, Hong Kong, the UK and New Zealand.
Using local mobile phone SIM cards has long been a favourite trick of savvy jetsetters looking to keep in touch with the office, friends and loved ones back home – and when shopping with SimCorner, you could actually pay less than you would abroad for the same pre-paid plan.
We checked out SimCorner’s prices and how they compare to buying the same SIM in its home country – here’s what we found.
SIM cards for the United States
For the United States, SimCorner stocks a range of regular T-Mobile SIMs plus a couple of Red Pocket data-only SIMs for use in iPads, portable hotspots and USB modems.
SimCorner sells the T-Mobile SIMs at face value in Australian dollars – so if you’d normally pay US$50 for a pre-paid SIM in the USA, you’ll only part with A$50 for the same product at SimCorner.
Better yet, T-Mobile normally charges a US$10 fee to purchase the SIM on top of your first pre-paid plan, but that’s also waived at SimCorner.
Looking at the data-only plans with Red Pocket, you’ll part with A$35 for an unlimited data SIM (3GB at up to 4G speeds, then throttled to 2G speed). Buying the SIM and plan directly from Red Pocket sets you back US$30, plus a US$9.99 fee for the SIM itself (roughly A$43.50).
That's an overall saving of A$8.50, with the added bonus of being able to use it from the moment you land without losing any time from your hectic business trip or well-earned holiday.
SIM cards for the UK and Europe
Over in the United Kingdom, you’ll pay a little more for the convenience of having your SIM before you arrive.
While SimCorner’s Lebara SIM comes in at A$25, we found comparable Lebara pre-paid plans available for just £10 (~A$17.50) in the UK, which included a free SIM and can be found at most newsagents, convenience stores and major retailers.
Twenty five dollars gets you a solid 2GB of data, or you can choose to trade some of that data for calls and SMS credit when activating your SIM.
For balanced phone users, we'd suggest the mix of 500 minutes of local calls, unlimited SMS, 102 minutes of talk time to Australia numbers and 500MB of downloads instead of the straight 2GB chunk, which is best put to use in tablets and portable hotspots.
Or, when connecting onwards within Europe, the pre-paid WorldSIM could take your fancy at just A$30 through SimCorner, complete with US$20 of credit to get you started.
You’d normally fork out US$49.99 for the SIM card and a lower US$15 of credit – making SimCorner cheaper and better value than buying the product direct from the WorldSIM website.
It's only US$0.35 per minute to call home to Australia from major European destinations such as France, Italy and Germany and Austria, and US$0.30 per MB of data.
Sending SMS messages isn't as cheap – you'll pay US$0.59 to text back home to Australia from the same countries, so we'd suggest using Apple's iMessage service to text using the data connection for a fraction of what you'd pay for a standard SMS text.
Crunching the numbers, your initial $20 credit gets you either 57 minutes of calls to Australia, 66MB of data or 33 Australia-bound SMS messages. That's not overly flash on a per-country basis, but that's still up to 89% less than you'd be slugged by roaming with Telstra across Europe.
Travelling further afield?
SimCorner also stocks SIMs for France, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Indonesia and Thailand, but as we’ve found above, always check that you’re getting the best deal.
If you’re happy to pay a premium for the convenience of being set-up before your plane leaves the runway in Australia, you can also order your SIM via the SimCorner website.
You’ll pay an $8.50 delivery fee, but if it saves you hunting down mobile phone retailers and comparing mobile plans on the fly, it could well be worth it.
More on global roaming:
- Hong Kong's best prepaid SIM cards for your smartphone or tablet
- Telstra's roaming rates skyrocket
- Global roaming options for China
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