Optus adds $5/day roaming: How does it compare to Telstra or Vodafone?

Optus latest mobile offer provides $5/day global roaming on top of your plan, which is quite convenient — but is it good value?

Optus has rejigged the way it charges for mobile roaming on its Optus Choice Plus plans, adding a $5/day global roaming option for travellers.

Which on the face of it, sounds a lot like what Vodafone’s been offering for some years now… although this is a slightly different type of plan.

What does my $5/day get me?

As per Optus, its $5/day roaming gives you 5GB of daily data and unlimited calls in “Zone 1” destinations.

You’re probably thinking that you’re not planning on travelling to Zone 1, and you’d be right. Here’s what Optus actually means by “Zone 1”:

Optus Zone 1 Countries
Albania Luxembourg
Argentina Macao
Armenia Macedonia
Austria Malaysia
Azerbaijan Malta
Bangladesh Mexico
Belarus Moldova
Belgium Montenegro
Bosnia and Herzegovina Myanmar*
Brazil Nauru
Bulgaria Netherlands
Cambodia New Zealand
Canada Northern Marianas
Chile Norway
China Pakistan
Colombia Palestine
Croatia Panama
Cyprus Papua New Guinea
Czech Republic Philippines
Denmark Poland
Ecuador Portugal
Estonia Puerto Rico
Faroe Islands Qatar
Fiji Romania
Finland Russian Federation
France Samoa (Western)
French Polynesia San Marino
Georgia Serbia
Germany Singapore
Greece Slovakia
Greenland Slovenia
Guam Solomon Islands
Guernsey South Africa
Hong Kong Spain
Hungary Sri Lanka
Iceland Sweden
India Switzerland
Indonesia Taiwan, Province of China
Ireland Tajikistan
Isle of Man Thailand
Israel Timor
Italy Tonga
Japan Turkey
Jersey Ukraine
Kazakhstan United Arab Emirates
Korea, Republic of United Kingdom
Kuwait United States
Kyrgyzstan US Virgin Islands
Latvia Vanuatu
Liechtenstein Vatican City (Holy See)
Lithuania Vietnam

That’s not everywhere on the planet — bad luck if you were planning that getaway to Antarctica, for example — but it’s probably going to cover 99% of Australian holidaymaker destinations, realistically.

What if I’m not on an Optus Choice Plus plan?

As per Optus, you’ve then got two choices; either a $10 roaming pass with 1GB of data, or Optus’ full whack roaming rates, which charge per minute for calls, for sending or receiving SMS/MMS and $1/MB for data in Zone 1 & 2 destinations and $2/MB in maritime and aerospace locations. As always, PAYG roaming options are always awful value, and best avoided.

Full details of Optus’ global roaming offer can be found here.

How does that compare against Telstra and Vodafone?

This is where it gets interesting.

Vodafone’s global roaming deal is the same $5/day in most locations, but it’s for whatever the inclusions on your existing plan happen to be, not a set data, call or text inclusion. That’s for postpaid plans only, it should be noted. That doesn’t include the “unlimited” data you get on many Vodafone plans, it should be noted, however, so don’t go nuts — it’s just your data inclusion, and then excess data pings in at $5/GB. You can check Vodafone’s International roaming rates and deals here.

Telstra sells what it calls “Day Passes”, starting at (you guessed it) $5/day. However that deal is for New Zealand only with 1GB of data included. Travel further than the land of the long white cloud and you’ll need to pay for either a Zone 2 or Zone 3 pass at $10 day. Zone 2 locations get 1GB of data plus calls, while Zone 3 countries just get calls, no data inclusion. Telstra charges a $10 flat fee for an additional 1GB of data while roaming. Grab the full details of Telstra’s roaming plans here.

Alex’s Take

Overseas travel is something, to be honest, I’ve not done a great deal of in the last little while. I can very much identify why that is, though, and you may be in the same position.

Still, I’m planning a few trips this year, and I can see Optus’ position on this one. It’s essentially a convenience play, because you wouldn’t have to fuss with any additional SIMs or eSIMs when you travel, sticking just to the number and handset you’re used to.

But that convenience comes at a price, because while $5/day doesn’t sound like much, it quickly adds up. If you’re after the true budget play, for just about everywhere I’ve ever travelled, grabbing a local SIM card is the smarter play; you typically don’t have to look too far to spend around $10-$20 for a 30-day prepaid SIM with plenty of data inclusions built in. Global roaming travel SIMs are another option, and can sometimes be the smart play if you’re hitting up a bunch of countries in a row.

Image: Optus

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