Are you traveling to Australia and wondering what is the best way to stay connected? Let this guide help you to pick the best sim card for your trip to Australia.
Find below a comparison of the Australia prepaid sim cards, up to date prices and info as per January 2024, the best 4G/5G network, my recommendation, the best e-sim cards for Australia, where to buy a sim card for Australia, international sim cards and everything else you need to know before buying a sim card for Australia.
Getting connected is the first thing I do when traveling to a new country. In the past I always used to buy a local prepaid sim card on arrival, but more and more I use e-sim cards to stay connected, simply because it is super convenient.
Since Traveltomtom is already a full time nomad and travel blogger since 2012, buying sim cards and e-sim cards is part of my life, especially since Traveltomtom is also aiming to travel to every country in the world. In 2022 I visited more than 60 different countries and in 2023 I traveled to 34 countries so imagine how many prepaid and e-sim cards I used in the last two years.
Therefore you can already find more than 200 prepaid and e-sim card guides on Traveltomtom from all over the world: New Zealand, Auckland, Samoa, Fiji, Nadi, Hong Kong, China, Shanghai, Thailand, Bangkok, Indonesia, Jakarta, Bali, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Dubai, Turkey, Europe, London, USA, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and many more.
If you are flying to either Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane Airport and you would like to buy a sim card for traveling in Australia straight on arrival at the airport then click on the link and check out my specific guides for these airports, including vlogs of what arriving looks like.
So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the most up to date and detailed advice about prepaid and e-sim cards for your next holiday destination. Bookmark me!
Traveltomtom recommends a Telstra sim card for traveling in Australia. Telstra has the best 4G/5G mobile network coverage in Australia. Their prepaid data plans are slightly more expensive compared to Vodafone and Optus but losing signal as soon as you get off the beaten path is also very inconvenient.
Traveltomtom does definitely recommend e-sim cards to stay connected when traveling to Australia. It is simply so easy to arrange everything online within a couple minutes. E-sim cards for Australia already start from just $4.5 USD. If you want a lot of data then you can also get one for $30 USD with 20 GB data.
When traveling to Australia and visiting more countries on your trip around the world or in the Pacific then also check out my list of the best international prepaid and e-sim cards for traveling in 2024. These international travel sim cards are valid in up to 141 countries.
Be aware that foreign sim cards only work in unlocked phones. If your phone is locked then you can’t use an e-sim card, an international prepaid sim card or a local prepaid sim card before unlocking your phone. If you are not sure about this then contact your mobile internet provider in your home country before traveling to Australia.
Best e-sim cards for Australia
E-sim cards are the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Australia in 2024. But keep in mind they only work in e-sim compatible phones.
If your phone is e-sim compatible then you simply order an e-sim card for Australia on the internet, process the payment, receive a QR code, scan it, follow the simple steps and you are connected in just a couple clicks.
If this raises a lot of questions then check out my complete guide with everything you need to know about using e-sim cards when traveling to Australia in 2024, including a comparison of the best available tourist e-sim cards.
There are many e-sim providers on the internet, below you can find my recommendations. All trusted, tested and reviewed by Traveltomtom personally.
Airalo is a trusted e-sim card provider and they have the following Australia e-sim card plans. Here are the Airalo data-only e-sim card plans for Australia for 2024:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $8 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $9 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $12.5 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $20 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $40 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for Australia from Airalo.
The Airalo e-sim cards for Australia are from Yes! Go! and they operate on the Optus 4G/LTE network.
SimOptions is another trusted e-sim card provider. They sell international e-sim cards that are valid in up to 130 countries around the world.
Here are the international e-sim card plans from SimOptions for 2024:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $9.90 USD
- 6 GB data for 10 days = $17.90 USD
SimOptions also sells the e-sim cards from Three HK that are valid in Australia as well.
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $24.90 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $34.90 USD
A third trusted e-sim card provider is Nomad and they offer also e-sim card plans for Australia. Here are the Nomad 4G/LTE e-sim card plans for 2024:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $5 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $10 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $12 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $19 USD
- 15 GB data for 30 days = $25 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $30 USD
Nomad also offers 5G ready e-sim cards for Australia.
- 30 GB data for 30 days = $80 USD
- 40 GB data for 30 days = $110 USD
- 50 GB data for 30 days = $125 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for Australia from Nomad.
Before ordering an e-sim card make sure your phone is unlocked and e-sim compatible otherwise an e-sim card won’t work on your phone.
For a more detailed comparison of the best e-sim cards for Australia in 2024 click on the link for my guide, including all FAQ’s about e-sim cards.
Why buying a sim card for Australia
No one wants to get stuck with slow overseas data roaming plans. These data plans from your mobile internet provider in your home country reduce the data speed and are much more expensive than e-sim cards or local prepaid sim cards.
The last thing we want is to get stuck with high data roaming charges, which in 2024 are still ridiculous and providers often charge up to $3 USD per MB, which means opening the Instagram app can easily cost you $100 USD. Not kidding! Always make sure you switch off data roaming when traveling internationally.
Very important when traveling to Australia is to stay connected. Why? What about ordering a taxi through an app or getting directions from Google Maps. Ever thought about what to do in emergencies and not being able to use data on your phone? Or killing time on long train, bus or car rides, accessing your banking apps, etc.
Don’t rely on WiFi, there is no guarantee your hotel has good and fast WiFi and another reminder that being connected to the internet through public WiFi is on an UNSECURED network. The use of a VPN is recommended to protect your data.
Where to buy a sim card for Australia
International Airport on arrival
Buying a sim card on arrival at an international airport in Australia is easy. All the major international airports in Australia have sim card shops that sell sim cards for tourists. Traveltomtom personally has shopped around at the airports in Australia.
Phone store in city center
All around the big cities there are sim card stores from the official mobile internet providers in Australia. Traveltomtom recommends buying a sim card in an official retail store over a random phone shop. In an official retail store of the mobile internet providers you get the best service and discounted deals and before you walk out of the store, the staff will make sure your data connection is working properly.
If you buy a sim card at a gas station or convenience store you will have to activate and register the sim card yourself. At these kind of stores they also sell prepaid sim cards from MVNO’s: Lebara, Lycamobile, Virgin Mobile, etc.
You can also buy a sim card for traveling in Australia on the internet. I already showed you all about ordering an e-sim card for Australia, but you can also buy physical prepaid sim cards for traveling in Australia. These international sim cards will be delivered to your home address before traveling to Australia. On arrival it is plug and play! More about it later.
Mobile internet providers in Australia
There are 3 main mobile internet providers in Australia: Optus, Vodafone and Telstra. All mobile internet providers sell prepaid sim cards for tourists. Prices for prepaid sim cards are more or less the same, the big difference between the mobile internet operators is the mobile data network coverage. More about that later.
When buying a sim card in Australia in any sim card shop you will need to bring your passport. A copy of your passport will be taken in the phone store and your new Australia sim card will be registered on your name and your passport number. You will receive a physical prepaid sim card or e-sim card that comes with an Australian phone number that starts with +61.
Prices Australia prepaid sim cards
All prices and info below are updated in January 2024. Prices are in Australian Dollar and $1 USD = $0.68 AUD and $1 AUD = $1.46 USD.
As of 2024 all mobile internet providers in Australia offer e-sim cards for tourists as well as prepaid sim cards. So when buying a prepaid sim card for Australia in any of the official stores of Optus, Vodafone or Telstra you can choose to get a physical prepaid sim card or an e-sim card.
Optus offers physical as well as e-sim cards for tourists in Optus stores all around Australia and they have 3 standard tourist plans:
- 5 GB data + unlimited calls/sms for 7 days = $12 AUD - $7.6 USD
- 40 GB data + unlimited calls/sms + international calls for 28 days = $35 AUD - $22 USD
- 60 GB data + unlimited calls/sms + international calls for 28 days = $45 AUD - $29 USD
There are more data plans, bigger ones and always an ongoing offer. Check the Optus website for more info.
In Vodafone stores in Australia tourists can also get an e-sim card and the following plans are available:
- 40 GB data + unlimited calls/sms + international calls for 28 days = $30 AUD - $19 USD
- 50 GB data + unlimited calls/sms + international calls for 28 days = $40 AUD - $25 USD
- 60 GB data + unlimited calls/sms + international calls for 28 days = $50 AUD - $32 USD
There are more data plans, bigger ones and always an ongoing offer. Check the Vodafone website for more info.
Telstra is the mobile internet that has by far the best mobile 4G/5G network coverage in Australia:
- 3 GB data + unlimited calls/sms for 7 days = $12 AUD - $7.6 USD
- 35 GB data + unlimited calls/sms + international calls for 28 days = $35 AUD - $35 USD
- 45 GB data + unlimited calls/sms + international calls for 28 days = $45 AUD - $45 USD
There are more data plans, bigger ones and always an ongoing offer. Check the Telstra website for more info.
Best 4G/5G data network in Australia in 2024
To determine the best prepaid sim card for traveling in Australia let’s compare the mobile data network coverage of all the mobile internet providers. Australia is a huge country and especially during long bus and car rides you want to stay connected. A sim card without a data connection is useless.
Is there 5G in Australia?
Yes, there is 5G in Australia, but especially when traveling off the beaten path, don’t expect to find 5G in Australia.
In fact, depending on which mobile internet operator you choose you might not even find a signal at all. In some of my previous Australia travel blogs I named Australia a third world country for WiFi and mobile data.
A couple years ago I wrote an article: 12 Things I Don't Like About Australia.
Anyway, let me show you why the network coverage is so important before choosing the best prepaid sim card for Australia in 2024.
Vodafone 4G/5G network coverage map
Optus 4G/5G network coverage map
Telstra 4G/5G network coverage map
From the above Australia 4G/5G coverage maps we can clearly see that Telstra has by far the the best mobile data network in Australia in 2024. There is actually a big difference between Telstra and Optus and Vodafone. Optus is a second best but is no competition for Telstra when it comes to the best 4G/5G network in Australia.
Best sim card for Australia
Prices for Australia prepaid sim cards are cheap, but so are e-sim cards. Not everyone needs 50 GB data for their trip to Australia and also not everyone travels off the beaten path finding secluded beaches. Some tourists only visit Melbourne and Sydney.
Different travelers, different needs.
For those who only visit the big cities and the well-known places to see in Australia an Optus or Vodafone sim card will do the job. They are significantly cheaper than Telstra prepaid sim cards.
Traveltomtom advices that if going for Vodafone or Optus and your phone is e-sim card compatible then order your e-sim card for Australia simply online. Pretty much the same price, if not even cheaper.
Check out my guide for the best e-sim card for traveling to Australia in 2024.
I you are going off the beaten path or you simply don’t want to worry about having a strong phone signal then definitely go for a Telstra sim card when traveling to Australia.
Telstra also has great prepaid sim card plans for tourists and for $35 AUD which is around $24 USD you already get 35 GB data for 28 days.
After comparing all the prepaid and e-sim cards for Australia and taking into account the 4G/5G network coverage it leaves no doubt that Telstra is the best sim card for traveling to Australia in 2024.
Order a sim card for Australia online
If your phone is not e-sim compatible then you can still order an international prepaid sim card for traveling in Australia on the internet. These sim cards are valid in multiple countries around the world. After you ordered online, a physical prepaid sim card will be delivered to your home address before your trip to Australia.
On arrival it is plug and play.
SimOptions offers the following physical prepaid sim card for Australia:
1. Three Data Pack - $24.90 USD
- 10 GB data-only
- Valid 30 days
- Valid in 56 countries
- Incoming/outgoing calls not supported
2. Orange Holiday World - $49.90 USD
- 10 GB data-only
- Valid 14 days
- Valid in124 countries
- Incoming/outgoing calls not supported
- Data allowance varies per country
Also a last reminder that if your phone is e-sim compatible you can arrange everything online by simply ordering an e-sim card for Australia on the internet. Recommended e-sim providers for Australia are: SimOptions, Airalo and Nomad.
My experience buying a sim card for Australia
Traveltomtom visited Australia multiple times over the last years. Before I used to buy a sim card on arrival at the airport and mostly chose an Optus sim card because they had great sim cards for tourists at Melbourne as well as Sydney Airport.
Though on my last trips to Australia when I flew to Brisbane I simply ordered an e-sim card online and I already enjoyed data on my phone when the plane landed. Prices for e-sim cards went down a lot and especially when staying just a for a couple days in Australia an e-sim card with 5 or 10 GB data is more than enough for me.
I used to always order an e-sim card from Airalo, but now I discovered Nomad and they are much cheaper. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an Australia e-sim card from either: SimOptions, Airalo or Nomad.
Back in the days when I lived and traveled in Australia for 5 months I definitely had a Telstra sim card and even then I was often disappointed with the lack of phone signal and slow internet. But that is already 6 years ago and things have changed a lot over time.
Nowadays even with an e-sim card in the cities of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney you can expect a data speed of around 80 Mbps download and 50 Mbps upload.
Anyway, I am sure some of the above tips for buying a prepaid sim card for Australia were helpful and my information made it easier for you to pick the right sim card for your trip to Brisbane.
Let me know if you still have any questions and I am more than happy to help you out. Leave me a comment below.
Curious what the life of a full time nomadic traveler looks like? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along with daily updates from around the world about the good, the bad and the ugly about traveling.
Traveltomtom is on the road to 197, meaning I would like to travel to every country in the world. As of January 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries, still about 40 to go, but no rush.
Enjoy your trip to Australia!
Some links in this article about the best way to stay connected when traveling to Australia are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you.