Getting a phone when arriving in Australia

by Sally L. Watkins Saturday February 16th 2019

Getting a phone when arriving in Australia-student-tip-buying-phone-australia

Having your phone up and running as soon as possible when you land in Australia can make your life a lot easier.

It is easiest to organise your phone setup once you are here in Australia. Using your existing foreign number will cost you a fortune, a local SIM will be a lot cheaper than using your home country provider as you will be paying international rates.

Consider your mobile phone options when arriving in Australia

Consider these mobile phone options to work out what type of plan is best for you.

  • Phone - Use a phone you already own and purchase a SIM once you arrive or get a new phone as part of a Prepaid package or monthly plan.

  • Paying – Decide between Pre-pay which works on for your usage or billed each month on a contract or no-contract plan.

  • Contracts - A fixed-term contract is usually 12 to 24 months whereas a no-contract plan is month-to-month and you can cancel at any time.

  • Phone Handset costs - Pay a one-off cost for the phone when you start or pay off the cost of your phone in the monthly fee.

  • Data usage - Have unlimited usage or choose a 'cap' which is a limit you cannot go over, prices will vary for these.

  • Types of usage – think about how you are using your phone - will you need just calls and text or will you alos want wifi and internet. Some plans don’t cover all or vary in cost for different usages.

  • Caps - plans will have caps on the amount of data and calls you make or be unlimited on calls or on all data. Once again costs will vary so you need to carefully check what's included and if you go over the usage caps how you will be charged.

The range of providers

There is a range of providers with reasonable mobile plans. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are the main phone companies and offer Prepaid & Plans of varying kinds. Telstra and Optus coverage around australia is the best.

If you go for a plan look for a company that offers no locking contracts if you are staying less than a year. Some prepaid and plans come with a phone.

Buying a SIM card

If you have a phone, you can buy a prepaid SIM card from the post office, supermarket or a phone retail store and top up online or buy more credit at a retail store for around $2-$5.

I personally use amaysim which has no lock-in contracts and uses the optus network. It costs $10 to $30 per 28 days, with international calls and text and wifi, internet coverage. I found Optus prepaid became to expensive and the Wi-Fi was not so good so I switched to amaysim and the Wifi was better.

Aldi Mobile, amaysim and Lebara Mobile tend to be the pick of the bunch among other students but the big operators tend to offer student discounts.

For a plan, you will need to go into a phone retail store to fill out the relevant forms or do this online and pass an identity check.

Identity check at time of signup

You are required by Australian law to show your passport and provide a valid Australian address whether is temporary accommodation or a permanent address.

To find out more about phone services in Australia, go to this Australian government website page -

Sally L. Watkins

Sally works in the Travel Industry and ofcourse loves to travel. Follow

High-quality articles for International Students living in Sydney to prepare, connect and be supported whilst studying in Australia.