Hi Frugalistas! Do you always struggle with what to do about phone costs when you travel? International roaming on your domestic mobile (cell) phone causes a very nasty surprise for the unwary. Not everyone is confident to buy a local SIM card when they are overseas. If you are travelling to multiple countries, that means multiple SIM cards. That’s where an international SIM card specifically designed for international travellers can come into their own. Australia Post recently offered me their travel SIM card offering to road test and report on. So, testing it on my recent trip to Istanbul and Paris was clearly an opportunity to put the card through its paces. How did it perform?
The Australia Post travel SIM card package
The SIM card comes in a neat cardboard envelope, with the SIM card, your phone number and an instruction leaflet. The instruction leaflet is small and will fit into your bag for easy consultation on the go. Instructions are clear and concise, and based around performing specific tasks.
Your account comes with AUD20 credit. When I activate my account I note that this AUD20 converts into US dollars, so you need to convert your calls and account balance to keep track of your expenditure. It also means the true value of your credit will fluctuate with the exchange rate.
Activation of your Australia Post travel SIM card
The instruction leaflet gives clear info on how to activate your account. The Australia Post travel SIM card website is clear and easy to use. My account is set up and I’m activated within a few minutes. Big tick on this one.
The SIM card can be used on any unlocked mobile (cell) phone and is available in both SIM card sizes. SIM card in, account activated online and my phone picks up the network and is ready to use almost immediately.
Using the Australia Post travel SIM card
Like other travel SIM cards I’ve used, the Australia Post travel SIM card is a bit different to use compared to your usual phone. You’ll receive incoming calls and use your SMS functions normally. Making outbound calls is a bit different. Dial the number you wish to call and the phone will hang up and send you a message to wait for your call. Then you’ll receive an incoming call from your requested number which you need to answer. The phone will be ringing at the other end when you pick up the call. When the person you are calling answers, conduct your call as normal.
I used my card in two different countries, with two different third party phone companies. The call quality was excellent, as was coverage. Using the SMS function was also good, with quick transmission and receipt of messages when I used it in Paris, Istanbul and in Abu Dhabi while I was in transit.
Data is available as an extra cost at USD10 for 10Mb in a 24hour period. If you need mobile access to data to enable apps while you are out and about, or are staying in a hotel with expensive wifi this seems a reasonable option.
The SIM card comes with AUD20 credit included. Having used other travel SIM cards that gave a pop up message with my account balance at the end of each call I was somewhat disappointed that this functionality was not obvious with this card. And yes, I did get cut off mid-call.
In Europe I got approximately 20minutes of call time, plus a few international texts for my AUD20. This is comparable to other cards I’ve used.
Topping up the card is easy by including your credit card details on your account and authorising a payment. Because the card works like a pre-paid in that you can only spend what balance you have on your account, you avoid nasty shocks with expensive calls.
What is my opinion of the Australia Post travel SIM card?
The Australia Post travel SIM card is definitely worthy of your consideration when travelling overseas. You can buy one over the counter at your local post office, or on line. It is certainly a good option if you are travelling to more than one country, where purchasing a SIM card in every country you visit gets expensive. Similarly, if you travel regularly, the travel SIM is useable in most countries, so you can keep it for your next trip and just top up your account.
Pricewise, the product is certainly far cheaper than using international roaming via your domestic phone account. Based on my experience, the price is comparable to other travel SIM cards I’ve used previously.
Activating and using the card is easy. The travel SIM website is also very user friendly. In my experience of using the card in Istanbul, Paris and in transit in Abu Dhabi coverage was good, and the card “picked up” local phone companies quickly. My only quibble is that the account balance was not notified when I used the phone – you need to check your account balance online.
For Aussie readers, the Australia Post travel SIM is easy to pick up via Australia Post. International readers can treat this post as features to look for when choosing a travel SIM card in your own country.
Author’s note: I received my Australia Post travel SIM card courtesy of Australia Post. You know my views are always my own.