Review: Vodafone's $5/day international 'Red Roaming' deal

Overall Rating

By Chris C., May 13 2015
Vodafone's $5/day international 'Red Roaming' deal
The Good
  • $5 roaming covers 47 countries
  • After activating once, it remains ready-to-use on every trip
The Bad
  • Offer doesn't apply in Canada, the UAE, Malaysia, Qatar...
  • Pay just $5 per day to use your phone abroad as you would at home


For only $5 per day, Vodafone customers can take their mobile phone plan to almost 50 countries across the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe – curbing the once-exorbitant costs of international roaming.

Available on all Vodafone personal and business post-paid plans (click here to see a full list), the scheme lets you use your Aussie plan's data allowance overseas without any of those pesky per-MB charges.

The same applies to voice calls to standard mobile and landline numbers within the country you’re in, and back home  to Australia as well – they come out of your plan's 'included value' at the same rate as if you were making a local call back home.

Customers who sign up to Vodafone's premium Red plans get even better value, with unlimited calls both within that country and back to Australia.

For most Vodafone customers, global roaming is activated by default – you just step off the plane at your destination and switch on your phone, making sure the relevant Global Roaming setting is turned on.

The $5/day roaming charge will kick in as soon as you make or receive a call, send a text message or use any data, and the 'day' is counted as the next 24 hours from that point.

Note that there's a nominal roaming limit of 90 days per calendar year, which Vodafone has set to avoid abuse of the scheme.

So how does this deal stack up to the current roaming plans of Telstra and Optus?


Vodafone’s $5 international roaming compared

When the price of global roaming is what you’d ordinarily pay for a coffee, you know it’ll be hard to beat elsewhere. Here's what it's up against:

Telstra’s International Travel Pass

Telstra comes close for travellers to New Zealand, Thailand and Indonesia, with its own International Travel Pass the equivalent of just $5 per day for unlimited calling, SMS and 50MB of data in these countries.

But there’s a downside: you can’t just pay Telstra per day of usage – you actually need to pre-order a fixed-time pass for either three, seven, 14 or 30 days, and the clock starts counting down from the moment it’s activated.

That means remembering to flick the switch on the same day as your departing flight, or calling Telstra once you’ve landed abroad.

And let’s face it – 50MB gets you a quick Facebook check-in, a few emails and a moment or two on Google Maps in an unfamiliar city. Anything more and you’re better off on Vodafone.

The same is true if you’re bound for most other countries covered by Telstra’s Roaming Pass such as Singapore, the US or the UK, where you’ll pay a higher $10 per day for the same 50MB of data and unlimited calls and SMS.

Optus’ $10 Travel Pack

Optus doesn’t venture into $5 territory, instead pricing its Travel Pack at a flat $10 per day wherever your travels take you, provided you stay within the carrier’s preferred list of countries.

Your $10 buys you the same inclusions as Telstra’s International Travel Pass – that being unlimited calling and SMS, and 50MB of data per day – but you can pre-arrange your pass to commence on a certain date rather than having to remember at the last moment.

You can also pay for the exact number of days that you need, so you won’t waste money by buying a seven day pass to cover a four day trip as you would with Telstra.

But there’s still no beating Vodafone’s easy $5 per day – as long as you’re on an eligible plan and have $5 roaming activated, you can ‘set and forget’, and will only be billed the fee once you’ve made or received a call, sent an SMS or switched on the Internet.

Even with $5 roaming, if you merely connect to the network with data disabled and only receive SMS, you still won’t be charged a cent.

Vodafone’s $5 international roaming: where it works

Among those 47 countries where Vodafone’s discount roaming is available: Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Japan and Thailand – just to name a few in Asia alone.

Add to that the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Finland, Hungary and more across Europe; Turkey and Cyprus in the Middle East; Brazil and New Zealand in the southern hemisphere; and the United States:

Countries appearing in red currently support Vodafone’s $5 roaming.
Countries appearing in red currently support Vodafone’s $5 roaming.

But there are still a few patches missing from Vodafone’s global roaming blanket, such as Canada – covered by both Optus’ and Telstra’s cheap roaming deals – India, and the United Arab Emirates: where you’ll transit en route to Europe with Qantas, Emirates, Etihad, Virgin Australia (by codeshare) and Royal Brunei.

You’re also out of luck in Fiji where there’s even a local Vodafone-named network, ironically allowing Telstra and Optus customers to roam at a lower cost.

Vodafone’s $5 international roaming: the verdict

If you’re already a Vodafone customer, switching on $5 roaming should be a no brainer – why pay $1 per minute to call your loved ones back home when you could take your whole plan abroad for just $5 per day?

Sure, with both Telstra and Optus you can ‘pool’ your daily 50MB allowance and use the full chunk of data at any time during your trip, but that’s still quite restrictive compared to your usual 1GB, or 3GB, or 6GB, or however much data you’d normally have to churn through each month.

Where Vodafone’s offering is limited, of course, is the coverage.

If you frequently travel to countries beyond the carrier’s grasp such as Canada, Malaysia, South Africa and the UAE, Telstra’s International Travel Pass or Optus’ $10 Travel Pack could be a better fit.

But for those heading across the pond to New Zealand, to the ‘biggies’ such as the US and the UK, or even to Hong Kong for a weekend of shopping, we’d suggest packing a Vodafone SIM in your carry-on.

And don’t forget – you still have the option of buying a local SIM, which can be more cost-effective on longer trips or where a discounted roaming pack or plan isn’t available.

Also read:

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 504

For India especially I remember I got 3GB of data on Vodafone for a mere $12 bucks when converted to Aussie dollars. I am not sure about other countries but yeah...


22 Oct 2012

Total posts 316

Just a pity that it's Vodafone that is offering this deal.  The least popular Australian telco, and the most complained about Australian telco.  It has the poorest coverage outside major cities, and subscribers have been leaving it in droves for the past couple of years.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

09 Jul 2014

Total posts 31

I used to be super vocal about Voda's failings, but no longer. I've had hassle free awesome coverage for the better part of 2 years now. Whatever they did, it worked.

I love their roaming too, especially when you think your plan would effectively be sitting at home wasting away while you're o/s anyway. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 260

I used this recently when in Turkey for two weeks and it worked brilliantly! There was only a brief period when I didn't have Vodafone coverage but that was in a spot that even I thought was a black spot.

I called home and used a fair bit of data... loved the convenience and ease of use.

Would have been great to be able to use it in Qatar and Malaysia though (as I flew QR and MH).

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