$10 per day: that’s all you’ll pay for unlimited calls, SMS text messages and 50MB of daily data when you roam overseas in selected countries with an Optus Travel Pack.
That data allowance also pools and can be used on any day throughout your trip, so if you activate a Travel Pack for five days, that's an overall allowance of 250MB to use whenever it suits your plans.
But with Optus’ international roaming deal largely limited to the northern hemisphere, just how does it compare to likes of Telstra and Vodafone – both of which charge as little as $5 per day when you’re abroad?
Optus’ roaming Travel Pack: where it works
One single Travel Pack covers you regardless of which ‘Zone 1’ country you’re visiting – so if your trip includes multiple stops within that zone, your lone Travel Pack comes along for the ride.
Aside from coverage around the Pacific, ‘Zone 1’ is largely centred around the Northern Hemisphere: indicated in teal below.
The darker blue shows where general roaming is available but where the Travel Pack allowances don’t apply, while your Optus SIM won’t work in the countries in white (with the exception of Australia).
Included within Zone 1: the UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Canada and India – some of Australia’s most popular destinations for business and leisure travellers alike.
Optus’ $10 international roaming compared
At $10 a pop, Optus customers are still paying a slight premium for convenience over the hassle of obtaining a cheaper, local SIM after touching down – but without being expensive enough to make that pit stop a necessity.
Yet if you’re in the market for a new mobile phone and a new post-paid plan to go with it, here’s what you’re up against.
Telstra’s International Travel Pass
If your travels regularly take you to New Zealand, the Telstra International Travel Pass provides exactly the same inclusions as an Optus Travel Pack, but at $5 per day against Optus’ $10.
Yet you can’t do the simple thing and pay Telstra only for the days that you roam – you’ll need to pre-order a fixed-duration pass that’s valid for three, seven, 14 or 30 days.
The timer starts counting from the moment it’s activated, which means allotting time to call the telco on your departure day: time better-spent in the lounge sipping on a glass of bubbly.
In all other included countries you’ll either pay the same $10 per day as Optus, or a higher $15/day – the difference being that you again can’t schedule the Telstra Travel Pass to begin when you leave Oz, whereas Optus lets you organise your roaming in advance and only charges for the specific dates that you nominate.
Vodafone’s $5/day roaming
Whether it’s Europe, the USA or even throughout Asia, Vodafone’s $5/day scheme operates under a different concept: use your existing Australian plan overseas and pay just $5 for the privilege, or nothing at all if you’re bound for New Zealand.
A large number of Vodafone’s roaming-capable plans provide unlimited calls and SMS, or at the very least a generous dollar-value credit to use for the same: immediately putting it on-par with both Optus and Telstra.
Where Vodafone takes the cake is data roaming – if you have 4GB to chew through every month when you’re in Australia, you can take that same 4GB with you as you travel.
As good as the deal sounds, it’s let down by its coverage in countries such as Canada, Russia and Mongolia where ‘casual’ roaming rates apply, where Optus would have you covered.
Optus’ roaming Travel Pack: the verdict
Although not as comprehensive in its inclusions or indeed as convenient as Vodafone’s $5/day roaming, we’re still glad to see Optus giving its customers an affordable option when taking their phone abroad.
$10/day proves a happy medium between the exorbitant roaming costs of yesteryear and the savings – but hassle – of obtaining a local SIM on your arrival, and makes sense if you'd rather keep your regular phone number active as you roam.
- Using Optus global roaming for international voice, data, SMS
- Review: Telstra International Travel Pass
- Beat the global roaming rip-off: buy an overseas SIM in Australia
- Making calls, sending texts when roaming with Vodafone
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT