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With free international roaming in 47 countries on selected plans – or global roaming for $5 per day for most other travellers – Vodafone customers can take their mobile phone abroad without fearing ‘bill shock’.
Covering major destinations such as New Zealand, the USA, the UK and many European and Asian countries, your plan’s voice, SMS and data inclusions follow you around the world.
Standard international charges apply in countries not covered by free or $5 roaming – but wherever you’re headed, here’s what you’ll pay.
Vodafone’s $5 roaming: the basics
To jump on the ‘roam like home’ bandwagon, you’ll need to have connected to any Vodafone post-paid plan on or after April 23 2014, in which case you’ll automatically have $5 roaming on your account.
The $5/day charge is waived on the $100 Red plan – giving globetrotters free international roaming – while customers on older, unsupported plans won’t have this option until they move to something from Vodafone's current line-up.
Discounted global roaming is offered on 12- and 24-month plans, along with ‘SIM Only’ month-to-month accounts that come without a contract.
It’s also available regardless of which mobile network you use in any supported country, so if you’re finding download speeds a little sluggish with one overseas provider, use your phone’s Settings menu to manually switch to another.
Vodafone’s $5 roaming: where it works
Travellers to Asia, Europe and the United States currently benefit the most from $5 roaming, with coverage limited in South America and the Middle East, and non-existent in Africa:
In Asia, that includes Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand – great for doing business in the region or when in transit to Europe with airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Garuda.
Speaking of Europe, you’re also covered in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Finland, Hungary and more; Turkey and Cyprus in the Middle East; and Brazil and New Zealand in the southern hemisphere.
A number of countries frequented by Aussie travellers remain absent from the list, including Canada, Fiji, India, Malaysia, Qatar, South Africa, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates – where you’ll touch down en route to Europe with Qantas, Emirates, Etihad and Virgin Australia (by codeshare).
For a full list of included countries, visit the Vodafone website.
Vodafone’s $5 roaming: how it works
For every 24-hour period that your phone sends or receives data, makes or receives a call or sends an SMS in an included country, your account will be billed $5 in addition to your monthly plan.
In return, you can then use your normal plan entitlements overseas as you would on home soil – so if your plan includes unlimited calls and SMS plus 3GB of data, that’s all yours to enjoy for $5.
The only exception being plans that include infinite Vodafone-to-Vodafone minutes rather than outright unlimited free calling, in which case any calls made to Vodafone numbers while overseas are deducted from your included dollar value credit.
For example, if you’re on the $45/month SIM Only plan that includes infinite Vodafone-to-Vodafone calls and $700 of included value for everything else, such calls are deducted from that $700 credit while on $5 roaming at the standard national rates.
(Currently, that’s a 40c flagfall plus 98c per minute, so a half hour chat deducts $29.80 from your credit, and all you’ll actually pay is $5 in cold hard cash for the daily roaming fee.)
Receiving SMS is always free and doesn’t start the 24-hour clock, and unlike the caveat on international calling, plans that include unlimited SMS also provide this benefit when using $5 roaming.
Vodafone’s $5 roaming: the fine print
If you exceed your normal plan allowances while on the road, you’ll be billed for the overage as though you did so in Australia at your plan’s usual rates – currently a flat $10 per 1GB or part thereof on most plans.
Data allowances from add-ons and data boosters can also be used abroad as part of $5 roaming – so add one to your account before using up your plan’s last kilobyte to avoid being stung.
3G roaming is widely available, although 4G networks can only be accessed in Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom – in all other countries you’ll be bounced to 3G, even if the network and your mobile both support the same 4G technology.
Finally, $5 roaming is only available for 90 calendar days per year, after which you “may” be charged the standard Pay As You Go rates (below). The same 90-day cap applies to the $100 Red plan, on which the usual $5 daily roaming fees are waived.
Vodafone’s Pay As You Go international roaming rates
In countries not covered by Vodafone’s $5 roaming, such as in Canada and the UAE, you’ll be billed for every SMS you send, for every minute you talk on the phone and for every megabyte of data you plough through.
PAYG rates also apply in every country to road warriors who spend more than three months of their lives away from home – even if it would normally be included under $5 roaming.
To keep things simple and easy to remember, Vodafone’s PAYG rates are the same wherever you turn: SMS text messages are 75c to send, calls cost $1 per minute to make or receive and data is billed at $1 per MB (or $1,024 per GB).
Text messages are free to receive in every country and on every network that allows SMS transmission.
Taking your phone overseas? Also read:
- Review: Telstra International Travel Pass
- Beat the global roaming rip-off: buy an overseas SIM in Australia
- Hong Kong's best prepaid SIM cards for your smartphone or tablet
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