Phone plans with free international roaming

16 May 2017

Phone plans with free roaming

Global roaming charges are one of the worst things about going overseas; if you want to keep using your Australian number, you'll typically pay somewhere between an arm-and-a-leg and a kidney, depending on whether you've got a travel pass or you're paying-as-you-go.

There is another option though.

A couple of telcos have recently been adding global roaming as a standard feature on their high-end plans, meaning you can roam without paying any more than your monthly bill. Admittedly, these plans will set you back over $100 per month, but they could still end up being a cheaper than the alternative if you're overseas regularly.


Only Telstra's priciest plan includes international roaming out of the (metaphorical) box; in fact, it's currently the most expensive personal phone plan in Australia. Priced at $195 per month, Telstra' XXL plan gives you unlimited standard calls, unlimited talk, and 1.5GB of data to use per month when overseas. This data can be used in all of Telstra's roaming zones, which cover all but a few countries (such as North Korea, Somalia, and Cuba). Excess data is billed at $0.03 per megabyte, which is a tenth of what you'd get charged if you're just paying as-you-go.

You'll need to sign a two-year contract to get this plan, but any phone in the Telstra range is available on the plan with no extra handset repayment fees, whether it's a Product (RED) 256GB iPhone 7 Plus or the brand spanking new Galaxy S8+.

The XXL plan also includes 30GB of data, and unlimited standard international calls while in Australia. Here's a few examples of the XXL plan paired with popular phones.


Optus' top two 24-month contract options both now come with international roaming inclusions. $130 per month gets you 1GB of roaming data, and $160 per month gets you 1.5GB of roaming data. Both plans include unlimited standard national and international calls and unlimited text for when overseas. If you exceed your data, it's billed at the standard pay-as-you-go rates for that country.

There is however a small catch, you can only use these inclusions in what Optus calls "Zone 1" countries. These include the USA, Singapore, New Zealand, France, China, Hong Kong, Poland, Sweden, Norway, and the UK. You can find a complete list here.

If you’re travelling to a "Zone 2" country (any country not part of "Zone 1"), you'll have to pay-as-you-go. Zone 2 is predominantly made up of the United Arab Emirates, Africa, Central America, and South America. Rates vary from country to country, but you're typically looking at $1.50 per minute of talk, $0.50 per SMS, and $1 per megabyte of data. Data isn't available in all Zone 2 countries.


None of Vodafone's plans offer roaming inclusions in the same way that Optus and Telstra do, but $5 per day roaming is still available on of the telco's postpaid plans. For $5 per day, you're able to use your local inclusions overseas in 55 countries. If you're in New Zealand, roaming is free for up to 90 days of the calendar year.

Travel accessories image from ShutterStock.


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