Travelling overseas with your Telstra post-paid mobile phone? Here’s what you’ll pay for international roaming calls and data, and how to minimise your bill while you’re on the road.
With a few exceptions for countries seldom visited by Aussies, Telstra offers global roaming in most overseas destinations across Asia, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and the Pacific:
The price you’ll pay for using your phone abroad depends on which countries you’re visiting and whether or not you’ve pre-purchased a discounted International Travel Pass.
Telstra’s International Travel Pass: where it’s valid
With unlimited calls and SMS overseas plus 50MB of data per day, you’ll want to buy a Telstra International Travel Pass before leaving home soil.
There are two separate passes, categorised as Zone 1 and Zone 2.
New Zealand, Indonesia and Thailand wholly comprise Zone 1, while Zone 2 is more comprehensive and includes Canada, China, Fiji, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, UAE, USA and more.
Telstra’s International Travel Pass: what it costs
Pricing is a little different to competitor Vodafone’s flat $5 per day. You’ll first need to choose how long your pass is valid for – either three, seven, 14 or 30 days – and then whether you need to buy Zone 1, Zone 2 or both.
A Zone 1 pass sets you back the equivalent of $5 per day, while Zone 2 costs $10 per day for the same inclusions of free and unlimited calls and SMS, plus 50MB of daily data.
For example, a three day Zone 1 pass is $15, a 14 day Zone 2 pass is $140, and buying seven day passes of both zones totals $105.
The clock starts ticking from the moment you add a pass to your account – so leave it until the day you depart to enjoy connectivity from the moment you touch down, or call Telstra after you’ve arrived if your flight lands on the following calendar day.
Calls to Telstra customer service are free even when overseas, provided you dial the carrier’s international number at +61 439 125 109 directly from your mobile handset.
Telstra’s International Travel Pass: pros and cons
The biggest advantage of Telstra’s International Travel Passes is that your inclusive data allowance doesn’t reset each day: rather, you’re given the equivalent of 50MB per day straight up – say, 150MB for a three day pass – and can then download at your leisure.
Excess data costs $0.03/MB if you hold an otherwise-valid pass and are in a country that it covers, and $3/MB once the pass has expired and in all countries not included by your pass.
It’s also significantly cheaper than casual roaming (detailed below), where you’re charged separately for every minute you’re on the phone and for every KB of data you consume.
On the downside, you’ll likely need to buy a pass that’s valid for longer than your trip – yet the cost remains the same.
As an example, a simple overnight business trip to New Zealand would require a three day pass, while an Asian jaunt for the five-day working week needs a seven day pass.
There’s also no easy option for anything in between – such as ten days – unless you first buy a seven day pass, wait for it to expire and then buy a new three day pass (totalling $50 rather than $70 for 14 days in Zone 1), at which time any remaining data from the expiring seven day pass vanishes from your account.
Telstra’s casual international roaming rates
Roaming without an International Travel Pass can be a costly exercise, with each MB of data setting you back $3 and every SMS sent costing 75c across the globe.
It’s not a bad way to go if you’re only going to send a quick “Hey, I’ve arrived safely in x” SMS to your boss or partner and leave everything else for the hotel Wi-Fi, but beyond that, avoid where possible.
While SMS and data rates are the same across the board, rates for making and receiving calls vary by country.
You’ll pay only A$1.50 per minute of talk time in Singapore, New Zealand, Finland and South Africa, and $2 per minute in the UK, Germany, Italy and Malaysia.
It’s $2.50 per minute in Thailand and France, $3 per minute in the USA, Canada and Austria, $3.50 per minute in China, India, the UAE and Spain, $4 per minute in Chile and a whopping $4.50 per minute in Qatar and the Czech Republic.
Prices are the same whether dialling the phone yourself or receiving a call.
Activate international roaming and check your rates
If you’re heading away on your first business trip with a Telstra phone at your side, you’ll first need to activate global roaming on the account.
That’s easily done via Telstra’s website or by calling 125 109, but if yours is a work phone, be sure that your corporate travel policy allows roaming and that your employer is willing to foot the bill before heading overseas.
Taking your phone overseas? Also read:
- Review: Telstra International Travel Pass
- Beat the global roaming rip-off: buy an overseas SIM in Australia
- Hong Kong's best prepaid SIM cards for your smartphone or tablet
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT