Everyone has heard cool stories about Australia, and it is a dream for many to visit the lovely country. Many make it their hobby to become an expert of Australia – for some reason.
You know that Australia is home to kangaroos and koala. You also know about Sydney, the capital of Australia, and Melbourne. If you are a bit more into Australia, then you also known about Brisbane, Perth, Darwin, Hobart, and the Goald Coast.
If you are a really into Australia, then you know that Sydney is not the capital of Australia and are currently fuming because I suggested such a blasphemous thing. Do not worry – I know that Canberra is the Australian capital (and if you did not, then you learned something new!)
Canberra may not be the most exciting Australian destination to visit, but all the others are. If you plan on going on a week-long road trip, hitting all those cities. Do not bother. If you drive 24 hours for that week with no breaks, you still will not even reach all those destinations.
But that should not discourage you from visiting this majestic country. It is almost a continent on its own (and some people I know have referred to Australia as such).
Being the 6th-largest country in the world and with a population of 25 million, the country is sparsely populated. In fact, large parts of central Australia is inhabited.
If you plan on visiting the Outback and want to rely on free WIFI hotspots. Think again, because there hardly be any around.
In this review, I will go over everything you need to know about Vodafone and determine whether they are a good option for travelers or not.
Buying a SIM Card in Australia Series
This Vodafone 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)
- Vodafone MVNO Series (Vodafone MVNO comparison & individual Vodafone MVNO reviews)
It is highly recommended to read the Main Operator comparison after this article, followed by the Vodafone MVNO comparison. With that said, let's get started.
Telecom Providers in Australia
Before I tell you more about Vodafone, 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: Vodafone Australia (officially Vodafone Hutchison Australia), Optus, and Telstra.
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.
Often, MVNOs offer more data than the Main Operator for the same price. However, that is not always the case.
GoTalk and Hello Mobile, 2 MVNOs using the Vodafone network, will charge you 10 AUD for 1 GB, while Vodafone itself will give you 4 GB. Additionally, Vodafone offers unlimited local calls and SMS for the 10 AUD plan, while GoTalk and Hello Mobile will charge you extra for calling or texting.
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 Vodafone.
Vodafone is the smallest operator in Australia. They also have the “worst” coverage and are known for that. Some even claim that they have (extremely) slow speeds. Because of these statements, I already had a negative attitude towards Vodafone.
However, my experience with them has been… surprisingly better than expected. Unlike most travelers (and most Australians), I went out and bought 20 different SIM cards for testing purposes, so I could easily compare them with each other. If you decide to go with one operator and have a bad experience with them, you will obviously think that they are bad.
But, if you can get first-hand experiences with multiple operators, you will notice that some things that others cannot observe because they have nothing to compare it to (except for their home operator).
In this review, I will go over everything you need to know about Vodafone and my experience with them. After reading this review, you will be able to make an educated decision on whether you should give Vodafone a chance or not. Let's get started.
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!
Vodafone Video Review
Want to watch the Vodafone video review? You bet! Check out this video:
How do I Buy a Vodafone Prepaid SIM Card?
You can buy a Vodafone SIM card in Vodafone stores, supermarkets, kiosks, and convenience stores. I bet you can even find them at gas stations, although I am not too sure about that. As a Main Operator, Vodafone wants to be shown in as many places as possible, which is why you can buy their SIM cards almost everywhere.
Vodafone SIM cards are sold for 2 AUD without any credit. You can also buy starter kits with credit from 10 AUD all the way up to 60 AUD, although most stores sell up to 50 AUD.
You can also order Vodafone SIM cards online. If you buy the basic starter pack online, you will pay 1 AUD instead of 2 AUD, and the SIM card will be delivered the next working day (as long as the order is approved before 4 PM Sydney time).
Additionally, select Vodafone starter kits are sold online too and get free express delivery.
Do note that you can also buy a Vodafone Pay and Go starter pack, which, unlike Combo Plus, does not come with data allowances, nor unlimited local calls and SMS. Instead, you will pay 0.04 AUD per MB (or 40.96 AUD per GB), 0.20 AUD per minute, and 0.20 AUD per SMS.
In comparison, the cheapest Vodafone Combo Plus plan, 10 AUD, comes with 4 GB, unlimited local calls and SMS, and 50 international SMS for 7 days. I strongly believe Vodafone Combo Plus plans are better for almost all travelers instead of Vodafone Pay and Go.
How do I Activate my Vodafone 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 Vodafone SIM card upon purchase
If you buy your SIM card at a Vodafone store, the salesperson will activate your SIM card for you upon purchase. Make sure to bring your passport with you. If not, they may tell you to come back later or activate your SIM card online.
You can also decide to buy your SIM card at a different store and go to a Vodafone store to activate it.
Activating your Vodafone SIM card online.
If you purchase your Vodafone SIM card at a different store than a Vodafone, let’s say a grocery store, then you can activate your SIM card online.
On the back of your Vodafone starter kit, it will tell you to go to vodafone.com.au/activate. You will see this screen. Put the SIM card into your phone and have your passport (details) ready.
Make sure to pull out the SIM card holder to see the Activation Key printed on the starter kit.
Enter the activation key in the Activation key field and press Continue.
Choose whether you ordered your starter kit online or not.
Choose the type of device you will be using your Vodafone SIM card for.
Select whether you want to recharge online with a card or a voucher.
Select the plan you want. Remember, you are required to top-up at least 10 AUD if you buy the 2 AUD starter kit, like I did, which is why I can choose from all the plans. If you buy the 30 AUD starter pack, for example, then you can only choose from the 30 AUD plans.
You can select a Combo Plus plan or a Pay and Go plan.
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.
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.
Under home address, enter an Australian address. It can be the one of your ho(s)tel or Airbnb.
Confirm your personal details and get your passport ready. Select the Passport option to validate your information.
Fill in the fields.
I did not proceed with theaw steps because I already have an activate Vodafone SIM card. After this, you will create a My Vodafone account and pay for the selected plan (applicable to those buying the 2 AUD starter kit).
Even if you buy a starter kit with credit, Vodafone will ask for your card information to validate your information (and to enable auto-recharge if permission is given). You can disable auto-recharge in My Vodafone.
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 Vodafone SIM card!
How and Where can I Top Up my Vodafone SIM Card?
You can buy Vodafone top-up vouchers in many stores in Australia. You can redeem the voucher by texting the code on the voucher to a specific service or redeem it online. You can also top-up online with a debit or credit card or with PayPal.
First, we have to go to the recharge page. Enter your phone number and click on Continue or Recharge with a voucher. In this case, I will click on Continue.
Vodafone will remember what you have recharged in the past. You can select the same plan or choose a different one. For this example, I clicked on Choose something else. You can also buy Add-on on this page and redeem a voucher too.
Select your plan of choice. You can also switch to Pay and Go by clicking on the Pay and Go tab.
Confirm that you have selected the correct plan and choose your payment method (card or PayPal).
Enter your payment information and confirm the payment. You can enable auto-recharge if you want.
You have successfully added a new plan online!
Redeeming a voucher (online)
If you decide to buy a top-up voucher, you will get a 12-digit code. You can text this code to the service number mentioned on the voucher or redeem it online (on the Vodafone website or My Vodafone App).
Recharging on the My Vodafone App
The steps on recharging your account in the My Vodafone App is almost the same as recharging on the website. Below are some images of the top-up process on the app.
What Prepaid Packages does Vodafone Offer?
In the SIM card activation section, we briefly got introduced to the prepaid plans Vodafone offers. However, there are some benefits that were not explained in detail. Let's do that now.
Vodafone Combo Plus plans
The following 6 Vodafone Combo Plus plans are available:
|Plan||Data||Validity||Unlimited Local calls & SMS||International minutes Zone 1||International minutes Zone 2||International SMS||Bonus data when credit card recharge|
|10 AUD||4 GB||7 days||Yes||None||None||50 SMS||100 MB|
|20 AUD||8 GB||14 days||Yes||None||None||50 SMS||250 MB|
|30 AUD||10 GB||28 days||Yes||None||None||50 SMS||500 MB|
|40 AUD||20 GB||35 days||Yes||500 minutes||100 minutes||50 SMS||500 MB|
|50 AUD||30 GB||35 days||Yes||1000 minutes||150 minutes||50 SMS||500 MB|
|60 AUD||45 GB||35 days||Yes||2000 minutes||200 minutes||50 SMS||1 GB|
The following 20 destinations are Zone 1 destinations for international minutes:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Puerto Rico
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
The following 69 destinations are Zone 2 destinations for international minutes:
- Canary Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- Eswatini (Swaziland)
- Faroe Islands
- Northern Mariana Islands
- San Marino
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
- Vatican City
No other Australian Main Operator includes minutes to so many destinations around the world, which makes Vodafone an excellent choice for those who want to call friends back home while in Australia.
There seems to be no restrictions on how you can use your 50 international SMS, as long as they are not sent to premium numbers.
Vodafone Pay and Go Plans
The following 5 Vodafone Pay and Go Plans are available:
|10 AUD||60 days|
|20 AUD||60 days|
|30 AUD||180 days|
|40 AUD||365 days|
|50 AUD||365 days|
You will be charged the following rates with Pay and Go
- Data: 0.04 AUD per MB (or 40.96 AUD per GB)
- Calls: 0.20 AUD per minute
- SMS: 0.20 AUD per SMS
- MMS: 0.50 AUD per MMS
International usage, calls and SMS from Australia to abroad, will be charged per Vodafone’s international rates, starting from 0.02 AUD to 3.50 AUD.
Unused credit will rollover if you recharge before your current plan expires. You can have up to 250 AUD in your credit bank.
What Speeds will I Get with Vodafone in Australia?
So, you have decided which Vodafone plan suits you the best when visiting Australia. Now, it is time to know whether you will get any decent speeds with Vodafone or not.
I did 3 speed tests with Vodafone when I was in Melbourne: in South Melbourne, Melbourne CBD, and my partner’s apartment.
Those are some pretty good speeds! Honestly, I was expecting much slower speeds with Vodafone because a lot of other travelers have complained about Vodafone's speeds and coverage.
With Optus, I was unable to do the tests at the same locations as I did with my other Australian SIM card reviews. The only location where I tested Vodafone and Optus at the same location was in South Melbourne. Vodafone was slightly faster.
In the CBD area, Vodafone was much faster. With Optus, I did the speed test at Flinders station, where I got a download speed of 28 Mbps. With Vodafone, the speed test was done in a McDonald’s in the city. A download speed of 177 Mbps.
Because the tests were not done at the same location, it is unfair to compare the two results, but it is still a good insight into what you can expect with both providers.
Therefore, you can expect good speeds with Vodafone if you are in a populated area. Vodafone is, still, notorious for having bad coverage in the Outback – rural Australia, so be aware of that.
Do I Recommend Vodafone to Travelers Visiting Australia?
I recommend Vodafone to those visiting Australia. Vodafone offers a lot of data for the prices they charge. For example, Telstra, the leading telco, will give you 1 GB for 10 AUD. Optus will hand out 10 GB for 10 AUD, while Vodafone will give you 4 GB. Not the most data, but still a lot.
One thing that I love is that Vodafone offers unlimited calls to 20 overseas destinations. The other Main Operators do the same with slight variations. What the others do not do is offer minutes to 69 destinations with their plans.
International calls are often expensive, so it makes me happy to see that Vodafone includes international minutes to so many destinations around the world. This is why they are so popular to those who insist on calling abroad instead of using VoIP apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Skype.
I also like how Vodafone keeps things simple with their plans. In the past, they had 7 different types of plans, which made choosing a plan a hassle. Optus, for example, still offers 4 different plans, while Vodafone offers 2 – Combo Plus and Pay and Go.
I would highly recommend the Combo Plus plans. Pay and Go rates are fairly expensive, even for moderate usage. Using 1 GB of Pay and Go data will cost you slightly more than 40 AUD.
For 40 AUD, you can get 20 GB, unlimited local calls and SMS, 500 international minutes to Zone 1 destinations, 100 minutes to Zone 2 destinations, and 50 international SMS. A much better deal, I would say.
The SIM card activation process is straightforward, and the speeds you will get with Vodafone are good.
However, even though I am somewhat praising Vodafone, I would not recommend going with them if you plan on staying in the Outback or when going on a road trip and staying in villages and towns. Your coverage in the big cities will be fine. Other places, not so much.
Backpackers who work on farms for their Working Holiday visas and use Vodafone often report not having any reception at all, while those with Telstra do not face this issue (that much). With Optus, it is a hit or miss compared to Telstra, but they have better coverage than Vodafone.
Overall, Vodafone is a good option for those who want a lot of perks for relatively low prices, and they are especially good for those who wish to call and text abroad. As a result, Vodafone deserves their 5-star rating.
How does Vodafone Compare with Optus and Telstra?
Now that you know everything you need to know about Vodafone, you may be wondering whether Vodafone 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 Vodafone 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 Vodafone 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:
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Hong Kong
- 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
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!