Telstra cuts international data roaming costs

By David Flynn, October 14 2013
Telstra cuts international data roaming costs

Telstra’s cut-price data roaming deals come into effect today as the nation’s leading carrier plays catch-up to recent globetrotter-friendly initiatives from Optus and Vodafone.

Telstra’s post-paid subscribers can grab a Casual Traveller Data Pack good for anywhere from 100MB to 1.5GB which can be used in some 50 countries throughout Asia and Europe, along with New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

There’s no restriction to the number of countries in which you can use the data pack, which makes it ideal for stopovers partway through your trip. The only limit is that last for 30 days from the date of activation.

Travellers will also receive an SMS alert for every 20MB they use.

Telstra plans to make the same data packs available to prepaid customers on October 24th.

Here’s how the Casual Traveller Data Pack prices stack up:

  • $29 for 100MB
  • $85 for 300MB
  • $160 for 600MB
  • $350 for 1.5GB

Those are substantial drops from Telstra’s previous roaming packs, which ranged from $29 for a laughable 20MB to a whopping $1800 for 2GB.

Even if you haven’t loaded up with a data pack (or if you exceed the pack's limit), the charge for casual Internet usage has also been slashed from $15/MB to $3/MB.

As welcome as these changes are, they still rate behind the deals that Optus and Vodafone have put on the table.

Optus’ streamlined roaming plans divide the world into two travel zones with data costs varying from 50c to $1 per MB.

Travellers to Zone 1 countries can also purchase a $10/day Travel Pack for what the carrier promises as ‘unlimited talk and text’ plus 30MB per day of data.

Vodafone’s new Red plans, which span from $50 for 1.5GB of data to $85 for 5GB of data (on a SIM-only basis) – with optional monthly data packs of $10 for 1GB and $20 for 2.5GB – let you use the plan’s call, text and data allowance in New Zealand, the UK, Europe and the USA for an extra $5 per day.

This includes unlimited standard calls and text messages back to Australia as well as the country you’re currently in.

If you're a Telstra subscriber, how do you rate the telco's new data roaming plans?

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Still a rip-off Telstra.  Rules, Terms and conditions etc.  Painful. And it only took every other carrier to move first.  Good on ya Telstra! 

In a recent trip to the US we used and it was excellent.  I really rate them.  We had full AT&T coverage (4G in most areas) and 2GB of data.  It cost $45 for a US SIM card, they post it out to you. Then simply recharge with whatever amount you desire (it was about $60 for 2GB from memory), a few days before you leave AU for the US.   When you get to the US just pop your US SIM in your phone and away you go.   You don't keep your Australian mobile number of course, but you do get a US number which you can give to family and friends back in AU.  I found that with Facebook and email etc you really only need a decent quantity of data.  I think the plan gave unlimited texts back to Australian mobiles too.  Check them out.  Much cheaper and less hassle than AU carriers roaming fees. (For the record I don't work for anyone mentioned here LOL).

DB can you recharge with an Australian registered credit card?

My experience with UK telcos is that they prevent you from topping up mobile credit with a credit card other than a UK registered card. I presume it's related to anti-terrorism measures.

However on a recent trip a $564.70 overseas data roaming bill ended up costing me only $85 (ICTDP 60MB). I reckon that's a good deal...not perfect but a lot better!

Hi. I'd have to say yes to that as we added credit a few days before we left AU for the US.  We didn't need to recharge while we were there.  I was using data like crazy over there; google maps to get around, email, facebook, constantly sending photos and video back home from my phone etc. I got 2GB and that was heaps for the 3 weeks that we were away.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2011

Total posts 148

Telstra's bulk packs are significantly cheaper than Optus'.

Telstra 100mb = $29

Optus 100mb = min$50


12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1513

I just came from long trip that includes many countries and with all honesty one does not need any travel pack at all - free WiFi internet widely available, I have not got any dramas in 8 countries.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

It's still pretty appalling. There should be no reason why the prices can't drop considerably more than that. If they could explain the reasons why the costs are structured this way so that the consumer can see where the costs are, then maybe we would be more understanding about the costs.


22 Oct 2012

Total posts 319

It's good news for those who hate the idea of changing SIMs, and must keep their Australian number, and are travelling quickly through a number of countries, and especially countries where even telcos speak little English.

For others who are in a country for a week or more, are heavier data users, and know how to Forward-All calls, etc, then a local SIM is the way to go.  As an example, I was recently in the UK for a period, and a pre-paid nano SIM from 3 (that's Three) cost me £15 for a month, including lots of calls and texts, and absolutely unlimited data.

15 Oct 2013

Total posts 1

Just back from Tokyo and noticed a heap of $1 charges on my Optus bill.  Called them and now they charge for unanswered overseas calls - if your phone rings in Japan, the US, Canada (and I am sure many others) and even if you don't pick it up and it goes through to voicemail, bing!, there goes another $1 onto your bill.  This coupled with a text message received on arrival into Narita, which outlines the new reasonable roaming charges, but nowhere in the text message does it indicate this new charge. Another route for consumer extortion.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Oct 2013

Total posts 93

Telstra's packages are groundbreaking... for 2009!

Really, their new offering (and Voda's new offering, for that matter), is quite a snooze IMHO. Amongst the announcements of other carriers around the world, take T-Mobile's amazing roaming-included-in-your-plan for example, Aussie carriers are just being Aussie carriers - uncompetitive, overpriced, with poor customer service to boot.

I've been using an unlocked iPhone & local prepaid SIMs for the past 3 years (typically for Nth America and Asia) - coupled with the APN changer from, it's absoultely fantastic. 3G/4G speeds at more realistic prices and great (local!) support, with minimal fuss!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jun 2013

Total posts 3

Total rip off as you would expect! They could all learn from New Zeland's "Telecom" NZ$6 per day for unlimited data (fair use policy) for roaming in AU and NZ$10 a day for UK, USA, China, Singapore!!!  If they can do it, why can't AU providers????

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jul 2013

Total posts 2

Telstra really don't give a stuff about clients. They operate on the basis of charging the earth until such time as some competitor (of which there are few) starts discounting and then they do something. Usually they 'only do something' when you actually complain.

Australia and Australians have been victims of Telstra for toolong and even now thanks to that moron Conroy they are moving back into monopoly mode ance again.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jul 2013

Total posts 11

Still too expensive. When I had a Finnish telco's simcard, the roaming rate for data was €0.15/Mb. 

It all comes down to convenience, and how long you're in the country for. If you'll be in one country for more than 2 weeks, it is usually best to purchase a pre-paid SIM card on arrival in the country - i.e. directly from the local telco, not a company that mails one to you in Australia. 

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