Australia is an incredible country, which is why many travelers want to visit it one day.
We have all heard incredible stories about Australia from past travelers, and we have seen cool movies and shows featuring Australia.
Besides being a popular travel destination, Australia is also a popuar education center for those who want to get their Bachelor's or Master's.
Unfortunately, the country is also known for extremely slow broadband speeds, especially if you are not in one of the big cities.
Large parts of the country are inhabited or sparely habited, making it a difficult country for relying on free WIFI hotspots.
In contrast, China has a population of 1.4 billion, while Australia has a population of 25 million. There are simply not enough free hotspot locations out there. And if you find one, it will probably be slow.
In this review, I will go over everything you need to know about Optus and determine whether they are a good option for travelers or not.
Buying a SIM Card in Australia Series
This Optus review is part of my Australian SIM Card Reviews Series where I review 20 individual Australian SIM cards.
Because there are so many MVNOs in Australia, this review is also part of the following series:
- Australian SIM Comparison (Main Operators)
- Optus MVNO Series (Optus MVNO comparison & individual Optus MVNO reviews)
It is highly recommended to read the Main Operator comparison after this article, followed by the Optus MVNO comparison. With that said, let's get started.
Telecom Providers in Australia
Before I tell you more about Optus, you need to know about the operator situation in Australia. If you have read my Buying a SIM Card in Australia Guide, then you know what Australia has 3 telecom operators: Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone Australia (officially Vodafone Hutchison Australia).
All these operators, which I refer to as Main Operators but are officially called Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), have various Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) underneath them that operate as separate companies using the networks of the Main Operators.
Australia has more than 50 MVNOs, of which more than 20 offer prepaid services.
Main Operators and MVNOs each have pros and cons, but I will give you 1 example.
Amaysim, an MVNO using the Optus network, is an online-only MVNO, which can be a pro or a con depending on who you ask. Some of Optus prepaid plans come with unlimited calls to 15 countries. Amaysim offers unlimited calls AND SMS to 19 countries.
You would think that the Main Operator would allow you to call to more international destinations than MVNOs, but that is not the case with Optus compared to Amaysim. Optus may, however, offer that to their postpaid customers, but that does not benefit us as travelers who cannot get a postpaid plan.
As you can see, each type of provider has pros and cons, and it is up to you to decide whether you want to go for better quality or save money.
Now that you know all of this, it is time to introduce you to Optus.
Optus is the second-largest provider in Australia, with more than 7 million subscribers. They are owned by the Singaporean operator called Singtel. Many bloggers tend to recommend Optus over Telstra because they are cheaper.
That is true. However, Telstra has a better network than Optus, but Optus’ network is better than the one of Vodafone.
I usually recommend Telstra for those who want extremely fast speeds, Optus to those who want a good value to quality ratio, and Vodafone for those who like to call and text abroad while in Australia.
Now that you are aware of Optus, it is time to dive into the details of Optus.
Tip: Looking for cheap flights? Book with AirWander and add stopovers! Not in a hurry yet? Set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog and get notified when ticket prices for your preferred route(s) drop!
Optus Video Review
Want to watch the Optus video review? You bet! Check out this video:
How do I Buy an Optus Prepaid SIM Card?
Optus SIM cards are sold in Optus stores, various supermarkets, and convenience stores throughout Australia. Supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths have Optus SIM cards and often sell them at a 50% discount (the 30 AUD and 40 AUD starter packs).
Big W is a discount department store that also sells Optus SIM cards. I guess that gas stations may sell them too, but I am not too sure about that. You can also order your Optus SIM card online.
You can get a basic Optus SIM card for 2 AUD with no credit. You can also get starter kits with credit from 10 AUD to 180 AUD. Do note that Optus has several types of prepaid SIM cards, which are:
- Optus Epic Data
- Optus Epic Value
- Daily Plus
- Long Expiry
What is Optus Epic Data? Optus Epic Data starter kits are Optus plans with data that expires within 28 days, unlimited local calls and SMS, and unlimited international calls from Australia to:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
Do note that the unlimited international calls perk only applies to plans starting from 30 AUD.
What is Optus Epic Value? Optus Epic Value starter packs come with data that lasts for 42 days and unlimited local calls and SMS.
What is Daily Plus then? Optus Daily Plus is a plan that gets you 500 MB for 2 AUD per day. If you use more than 500 MB in a day, then you will be charged 4 GB for 1 GB. Your data allowance resets every night. You also get unlimited local calls and SMS.
Finally, what is Long Expiry? Optus Long Expiry is their classic Pay As You Go prepaid plan where you get charged per MB, call, and SMS.
Overall, Optus Epic Data gets you the best bang for your buck, especially if you are a short-term visitor in Australia.
Unlike Telstra (free) and Vodafone (1 AUD), you do not get a discount if you order your basic Optus SIM card online.
Be aware that you need to recharge at least 10 AUD when trying to activate the 2 AUD starter pack, regardless of whether you order it online or buy it in a store.
As always, ask your ho(s)tel or Airbnb if they can keep your SIM card safe for you when you order your SIM card online. Otherwise, they may be wondering why they received an unsolicited Optus SIM card in their mailbox.
How do I Activate my Optus SIM Card?
In Australia, you are required by law to show your passport when buying an Australian prepaid SIM card. However, most operators allow you to register your SIM card online.
Activating your Optus SIM card upon purchase
I bought my Optus SIM card at an Optus store in Melbourne CBD (Central Business District – Downtown). I brought my passport with me, so they activated my SIM card on the spot. The whole process took me about 10 minutes, including the salesperson trying to push me to buy a more expensive plan (in particular, the 30 AUD plan).
Do note that if you buy a starter pack with credit or a plan, the plan will be activated immediately, even if you do not put the SIM card in your phone yet. I learned this the hard way because I was planning on doing the speed test a week later. Then I found out that my plan expired, so I had to buy a new one. This will not be a problem for most of you, but it is something to be aware of.
Be also aware that if you decide to buy your SIM card at a different store, like a supermarket, you can still go to an Optus store to get it activated.
Activating your Optus SIM card online
If you buy your SIM card at a different store than an Optus store, then you will most likely activate your SIM card online.
The cool thing is that you can access the activation page on your mobile device even if the SIM card is not active yet. In this tutorial, however, I will show you parts of the activation process on a desktop.
When you open your Optus starter pack, it will tell you to go to optus.com.au/activate. You will see this screen.
As shown on the screen, you can find your SIM card number on the SIM card holder or on the SIM card itself. Enter this under Enter your SIM number.
On the Your details page, you enter your personal details. Make sure everything matches with the information as stated on your passport, as it will be validated at a later stage during the activation process.
For address, use an Australian address (ho(s)tel or Airbnb).
On the next page, you can select a number. 8 random telephone numbers will be generated. Choose the one you like before proceeding to the next page.
Here, you can choose your plan. Because I used a 2 AUD starter kit for this activation process, I can select any of Optus’ plans. If you bought a starter kit with credit, then only those that do not exceed your credit will be shown.
You can filter it by price or plan. Be aware that international roaming plans will be shown when filtering by price. It will clearly be mentioned, but you do not want to accidentally buy a roaming plan, so pay attention.
From here, I was not able to proceed after selecting a plan. Perhaps one of my browser extensions was preventing me from progressing.
As I already have an active Optus SIM card, I did not want to activate this one. After selecting a plan, you select your payment method (debit/credit card or PayPal), ID method (international passport), verify your personal information, and activate your SIM card.
Do note foreign currency exchange with traditional debit and credit cards are expensive because banks use unfavorable currency exchange rates or take an insanely high commission, which is almost criminal. Let’s not talk about PayPal’s fees. That is why I use Transferwise for any non-Euro payments (because my main currency is the Euro).
TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to Australian dollars for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment. I even use my Transferwise debit card when paying for things abroad (with Google Pay as well).
Congratulations! You have successfully activated your Optus SIM card!
How and Where can I Top Up my Optus SIM Card?
You can recharge your Optus SIM card online, with a voucher, in an Optus store, or on the My Optus app.
Recharge online on the Optus website
Recharging your Optus SIM card online is probably the most convenient option out there. First, you have to go to optus.com.au/recharge, and you will see this page. Enter your phone number and select the payment method of choice and proceed to the next step.
Here, you can choose how much you want to recharge. For the 10 AUD and 20 AUD options, you can choose whether you want a regular recharge, the Extra Credit Add On, or the Travel Credit Add On (international roaming).
These are all Optus Epic Data plans. Click on More information to see what you get for each recharge,
Select your preferred recharge and click on Next.
Optus will ask whether you want to enable auto-recharge or not.
Here, you enter your payment information.
What are those blue Ds in those fields? That is Dashlane, a digital vault. Dashlane fills all your passwords, payment information, and personal details wherever you need them so that you do not have to do it manually. In this case, it is prompting to fill in my payment information for me. I have multiple credit cards, which are hard to remember. Dashlane remembers them for me, and the only thing I have to remember is my Master Password.
Dashlane encrypts your data, so it cannot be stolen like that. Even if someone manages to guess your Master Password, you can set up 2-factor authentication, which would require you to approve the log-in attempt. You can get Dashlane Premium for FREE for 30 days. Trust me, you will LOVE Dashlane as I do.
After you have filled in your payment information, you confirm the payment and will see a receipt on your screen. Congratulations – you have successfully recharged your Optus SIM card!
Recharge with an Optus voucher
You can buy Optus vouchers in many stores in Australia. Once you have purchased your voucher, you can activate the voucher online, on the My Optus App, or by calling 555. I will show you how to redeem your top-up voucher online.
First, you have to go to optus.com.au/recharge, enter your phone number, and select Redeem pre-purchased Voucher or Gift Card.
Then, enter your voucher number and confirm that your phone number is correct. If you enter the wrong phone number and activate the voucher, your credit will be lost.
After that, you select your plan and confirm your details. You will get a receipt on your screen.
Recharge in an Optus store
You can visit an Optus store to recharge your account. Just bring your debit or credit card with you (or cash, maybe), and tell the salesperson what plan you wish to buy. You will also need your phone number.
Recharge on the My Optus app
Finally, you can use the My Optus app to recharge. Whether you want to activate a voucher or just buy a plan, the app will take them all. Unfortunately, I did not use the My Optus app when I was in Australia.
I tried activating the app when writing this article – I was in Taiwan – but it did not work. I was supposed to receive an SMS, which took 30 minutes to come in (but the code is only valid for 15 minutes). I assume the process is straightforward, though. Sadly, I cannot show it to you.
What Packages does Optus Offer?
Earlier, we learned that we have 4 types of Optus plans, which are:
- Optus Epic Data
- Optus Epic Value
- Daily Plus
- Long Expiry
Optus Epic Data
The following 9 Optus Epic Data plans are available:
|Plan||Data||Validity||Unlimited Local Calls and Text||Unlimited International Calls*||Extra Credit **|
|10 AUD||10 GB||5 days||No. 100 minutes & unlimited SMS||No||N/A|
|20 AUD||12 GB||10 days||No. 200 minutes & unlimited SMS||No||N/A|
|30 AUD||10 GB||28 days||Yes||Yes||5 AUD|
|40 AUD||20 GB||28 days||Yes||Yes||10 AUD|
|50 AUD||30 GB||28 days||Yes||Yes||15 AUD|
|60 AUD||40 GB||28 days||Yes||Yes||20 AUD|
|70 AUD||45 GB||28 days||Yes||Yes||20 AUD|
|80 AUD||50 GB||28 days||Yes||Yes||20 AUD|
|100 AUD||60 GB||28 days||Yes||Yes||20 AUD|
* International calls FROM Australia TO Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom, or United States.
** Extra credit for international calls (to other destinations), international SMS, international roaming, and select premium SMS services.
For some plans, you get more data than mentioned in the table for the first 3 recharges. It is unclear whether this is a temporary promotion or a permanent ongoing one. These are the bonuses:
- 30 AUD: 35 GB instead of 10 GB
- 40 AUD: 45 GB instead of 20 GB
- 50 AUD: 55 GB instead of 30 GB
- 60 AUD: 65 GB instead of 40 GB
- 70 AUD: 70 GB instead of 45 GB
- 80 AUD: 75 GB instead of 50 GB
- 100 AUD: 85 GB instead of 60 GB
All Optus Epic Data plans come with Data Rollover, which means that if you have any unused data and you renew your plan, your unused data will roll over to the new month. You can have up to 200 GB in your data bank.
Additionally, all plans come with dedicated 10 GB streaming data for Netflix, Stan, and ABC iView. Do note that unused streaming data does not roll over.
Optus Epic Value
The following 6 Optus Epic Value plans are available:
|10 AUD||500 MB||21 days|
|15 AUD||500 MB||28 days|
|30 AUD||2 GB||42 days|
|40 AUD||10 GB||42 days|
|50 AUD||15 GB||42 days|
|180 AUD||60 GB||365 days|
All Optus Epic Value plans come with unlimited local calls and SMS and data rollover up to 50 GB.
My Prepaid Daily Plus
Optus Prepaid My Daily Plus comes in 10 AUD, 20 AUD, 30 AUD, 45 AUD, 60 AUD, and 100 AUD credit. You pay 2 AUD per day for 500 MB. Of course, you will not be charged if you do not use data on certain days.
Extra data, 524 MB, is charged at an additional 2 AUD, so your daily limit is 1 GB at 4 AUD. You can get more data, 500 MB, for 2 AUD by texting MENU to 9999 or on the My Optus app.
Do note that your daily limit resets at midnight at Sydney time regardless of where you are in Australia.
The 10 AUD and 20 AUD plans are valid for 30 days. The other plans are valid for 186 days. You get unlimited local calls and SMS.
You can rollover unused credit if you renew your plan before your current plan expires.
Optus Prepaid Long Expiry
Finally, you have 9 Optus Prepaid Long Expiry, which is Optus’ Pay As You Go plans:
|10 AUD||45 days|
|20 AUD||90 days|
|30 AUD||186 days|
|40 AUD||186 days|
|50 AUD||186 days|
|60 AUD||365 days|
|70 AUD||365 days|
|80 AUD||365 days|
|100 AUD||365 days|
You will be charged the following rates with Optus Prepaid Long Expiry:
- Data: 0.07 AUD/MB (or 71.68 AUD/GB)
- Calls: 0.25 AUD/min
- SMS: 0.25 AUD/SMS
How do I Activate an Optus Plan?
Now it is time to activate an Optus plan after exploring all your options. You activate your plan upon activating your SIM card. If you need to enable another plan because your current one expired, you have to follow the same steps as when you are recharging your SIM card.
What Speeds Will I Get with Optus in Australia?
Internet speed is, besides price, the most important factor in choosing an operator.
I did 2 speed tests with Optus when in Melbourne: in South Melbourne and at Flinders Station.
Normally, I do 3 speed tests with each operator. However, I forgot that my plan expired in 5 days instead of the usual 7 days, so I had to rush out to get these tests done in the evening. As a result, I could only do 2 tests, and the second test was done at a different location than Telstra and Vodafone (Flinders Station instead of a McDonald's in Melbourne CBD).
These are good speeds. They are certainly not close to Telstra’s incredible speeds, but your browsing experience with Optus should be smooth, especially in the big cities. If you go to rural Australia, your speeds will probably be slower.
Do I Recommend Optus to Travelers Visiting Australia?
I recommend Optus to those visiting Australia. It is easy to get yourself an Optus SIM card, as they are sold in many shops throughout the country. Activating your SIM card will be quick and easy too, which is a plus.
One thing that I like about Optus is that they offer several different types of plans, which means that you can find one that suits your needs. I can also understand that it can be confusing to some because there are so many plans.
I would certainly recommend any of the Optus Epic Data plans because they have the most value for the money spent.
I also like that they include unlimited international calls for 15 countries around the world. Moreover, the data rollover feature is something all operators around the world should implement. Unfortunately, I know that will not be happening (anytime soon).
Overall, Optus is a good operator, and they deserve their 5-star rating.
How does Optus Compare with Telstra and Vodafone?
Now that you know everything you need to know about Optus, you may be wondering whether Optus is the best for you or not. I made an Australian SIM Card comparison article where I go through Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone more in-depth, comparing their packages, speeds, and coverage.
It is a good read where I take certain scenarios into account that may apply to you (such as spending a certain amount on data packages like 10 AUD, 30 AUD, and 50 AUD, wanting to call and text abroad, and speeds).
Be sure sure to check out the Best Australian SIM Card comparison post.
The video above is a long video that goes over everything covered in the Best Australian SIM Card comparison post. If you do not have that much time right now, add the video in your Watch Later playlist. For now, watch this video below that briefly introduces you to Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone, and I do a speed test with them at the end.
Reminder: Australian SIM Card Review Series
Remember, this Optus review is part of my Australian SIM Card Reviews series. Be sure to read the Australian Main Operator Comparison (the one mentioned above) and the Optus MVNO Comparison articles too!
Best International SIM Cards for Australia
Even though buying local SIM cards is often the cheapest way to stay connected while abroad, some travelers prefer to buy international SIM cards so that they do not have to pay expensive roaming bills while being reachable on one phone number.
There are many international SIM cards out there covering Australia, but there are a few 4 I would recommend for Australia.
Surfroam is my to-go international SIM card that acts as a bridge between me arriving in a new destination and before buying a local SIM card. Often, airport WIFI is slow (like at Melbourne Airport), and the SIM cards offered at the airports are overpriced or the more expensive ones.
Surfroam is a data-only SIM card. You get a UK number (+44) and can receive SMS, but you cannot call or text. The SIM card will not expire as long as you top up once a year. The Surfroam SIM card is free, but you have to top-up at least €15 (or €20 for the eSIM variant) upon purchase, which is already incorporated into the buying price.
Depending on where you are, you pay a minimum of €0.01 per MB (or slightly more than €10 per GB), which is cheaper than data packages in various countries around the world.
In Australia, you will pay €0.01 per MB when using your Surfroam SIM card on the Optus network.
Surfroam has agreements with operators in more than 200 destinations around the world, including Australia, which means that it will always have your back.
TrueMove H Smart SIM Cards
TrueMove H is a Thai operator that is known for offering attractive international roaming packages for in the Asia Pacific region and for affordable international SIM cards, like their Smart SIM cards. These SIM cards come with a Thai number (+66) and in 2 variants:
|SIM Card||Price||Data||Calls||SMS||Coverage||Credit Validity|
|TrueMove H Smart Light||$20||10 GB||None||None||20 destinations||10 days|
|TrueMove H Smart Traveler +||$40||6 GB||None||None||55 destinations||15 days|
Besides not being able to call and text with these SIM cards, you also cannot receive calls or SMS. Additionally, once the SIM card has been activated (when you put it in your device), the SIM card will expire once the credit validity hits, meaning that you cannot top-up your TrueMove H SIM card.
You can use your Smart SIM cards in the following 60 destinations:
|Destination||TrueMove H Smart Light||TrueMove H Smart Traveler|
3 Smart SIM Cards
3 Hutchison is an international telecom operator active in various countries in Europe and Asia. The 3 Smart SIM cards are issued by 3 UK and come with a UK number (+44). They come in 4 variants:
|SIM Card||Price||Data||Calls||SMS||Credit Validity|
|3 Smart Silver||$30||10 GB||None||None||30 days|
|3 Smart Gold||$40||12 GB||None||None||30 days|
|3 Smart Platinum||$60||12 GB||None||None||1 year|
|3 Smart Platinum X||$80||24 GB||None||None||2 years|
You cannot call and text with any of the 3 Smart SIM cards. You can, however, receive calls and SMS for free if you are in an eligible destination (shown below).
All 3 Smart SIM cards can, besides Australia, be used in the following 22 destinations:
- New Zealand
- Puerto Rico
- Sri Lanka
- United States
- US Virgin Islands
Recharging these SIM cards is only possible with cards registered to a UK address our 3 UK top-up vouchers.
AIS Smart SIM Cards
AIS is another Thai operator that has attractive international roaming packages and international SIM cards for those traveling in Asia. It also comes with a Thai (+66) number.
For Australia, they only have 1 SIM card, called AIS Smart Traveler, which costs $20, comes with 6 GB, and is valid for 10 days. You cannot call or text with this SIM card, nor can you receive calls and SMS.
Besides Australia, the AIS Smart Traveler SIM card can be used in the following 24 destinations:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
Best Mobile Hotspots for Australia
Mobile hotspots, also known as Pocket WIFI, are useful for those traveling to Australia as a group or family. Buying data packages for everyone can add up quickly, which is why mobile hotspots can be a good alternative.
Just like international SIM cards, many companies are offering mobile hotspots, but there are 3 companies I would recommend for Australia.
Travelwifi also allows you to buy add-ons, such as calling and texting internationally or use in-flight WIFI.
Travelwifi has several tiers for Australia:
- World Adventure: $9/day – 1 GB per day
- World Escape: $12/day – 2 GB per day
- World Voyage: $13/day – 3 GB per day
Want to use Teppy throughout Oceania, which includes Australia, Fiji, Guam, New Zealand, and Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands)? Then the following applies:
- World Voyage: $9/day: 1 GB per day
- World Escape: $12/day: 2 GB per day
- World Voyage: $13/day: 3 GB per day
You can also buy Teppy for $150 (in red, blue, or green) and buy country or global passes when traveling.
Skyroam is a popular portable hotspot because they rent their Skyroam hotspot with unlimited data from $6 a day, and up to 10 devices can be connected to the hotspot. It works in more than 130 countries.
In Australia, you will pay $9 per day for unlimited high-speed data if you rent it, which is incredible.
Both devices offer fast and secure WIFI speeds and allow you to connect to 10 devices. The Solis X also has a remote camera, speaker, microphone, Bluetooth, and a Smart Assistant. Neat.
Vision Global Wifi
Vision Global hotspots cover more than 130 destinations around the world – Australia included. Their service comes in 3 variants:
- Unlimited 4G Basic: $6/day – 500 MB high-speed data per day, then unlimited normal speed
- Unlimited 4G Advanced: $8.80/day – 1 GB high-speed data per day, then unlimited normal speed
- Unlimited 4G Max: $16/day – Unlimited high-speed data every day
The prices drop if you plan on using a Vision Global device for more than two weeks.
What is next?
Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! Save money on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation. Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!
Book Your Flight for Australia
It is time to book your flight. Find cheap flights with AirWander so that you can add free or cheap stopovers in destinations you have not considered yet before going to Australia. If you are not ready to take off yet, set up flight alerts with Airfarewatchdog, and they will notify you once ticket prices to Australia drop.
Book Your Accommodation for Australia
I am a huge fan of Airbnb because it allows me to live with a local or get a local place for myself. Staying in someone’s house or apartment feels much different than being in a ho(s)tel, especially in Australia. At least, that is how I see it. Moreover, Airbnb can often be much cheaper than staying in an Australian hotel.
Get Your Travel Insurance for Australia
You will regret not having travel insurance once you actually need it and “forgot” to get it. Nowadays, travel insurance is cheap and comprehensive unlike back in the days. World Nomads is by far the best travel insurance for adventurous travelers like yourself. You can even get insured WHILE already traveling in Australia, which is not something many insurance companies allow you to do.
Get a Travel Debit Card
Travel Cheques are outdated. Paying with your credit card or debit card can be expensive because of all the exchange commissions banks charge you. TransferWise allows you to convert your main currency to Australian Dollars for a small fee (up to 8 times less than with your bank!) Getting a Transferwise Borderless account is FREE, so you will get an instant return on your investment.
Enjoy your trip!