The main problem with Telstra is activation prior to arrival in Australia.
Our best alternative is the OPTUS SIM (see info here), which provides better value for money and can be activated online prior to entering Australia (they let you verify your ID by using any international credit card).
Telstra won't allow you to use a International passport+Visa number, if they Visa hasn't entered the country yet.
You can try requesting Telstra customer service reps to activate for you via their online chat service - sometimes this will work (mixed results), but really you can only do it yourself online post-entry. The Visa system updates that you have arrived relatively quickly (most times within an hour, or at latest 2-3 hours), and you can quickly activate and register your SIM online as an international visitor.
It may be still worth buying a Telstra SIM prior to arriving in Australia if you are spending lots of time in rural Australia, as they can be very hard to purchase at the airport due other telco companies having exclusive retail rights at the airport (ie you won't find a Telstra store at the airport).
Telstra Prepaid SIM for Australia
$30 Telstra Prepaid SIM Starter Pack for phone, data devices and tablets
If you require a data SIM specifically for an iPad (not devices other than iPad), the Telstra iPad SIMs here are a better value option.
These Telstra Starter Kits have $30 preloaded and can be activated onto either a:
- Phone plan (calls, SMS, and data), or
- Data only plan
The SIMs are easy to activate online overseas before you come (recommended), or after you land in Australia. You will need to enter your personal details, an address in Australia (hotel is fine), and can make any additional payment using a foreign credit card.
Make sure your device is unlocked.
Full activation process is detailed below.
It is a four step process that takes about 15 minutes
First Navigate to:
(scroll down and select 'Activate' ... Note: from time to time they update the graphics, but is the same data is required).
You are next asked if it is a new Telstra service or if you are transferring an existing mobile number.
Select 'Activating a new service' > then enter the SIM Serial number (this is the number the envelope or on the back of the SIM without the letter).
Select what the SIM if for (ie for 'Personal Use'), and then a drop down will ask what type of device you are using the SIM in.
This is important as it will determine what plans you will be able to select (ie Mobile Phone, you will be able to choose the Mobile Phone plans Vs if you select Mobile Broadband, which gives you access to Mobile Broadband plans). Then select next.
Enter your details - Select 'New customer' (unless you already have a Telstra service in your name). Provide your Name, date of birth and email.
Telstra then requires your 'Full street address' - it is fine to use any address in Australia (ie hotel, or friends you are staying at etc). They verify this address against a database of know building addresses, so it will ask you to then confirm one that appears in the dropdown.
Once you have confirmed your address, it will ask you to provide a form of ID. If you are coming from outside Australia, the 'International Passport' is probably your best option.
Enter your passport number and it will ask for a Visa number too.
The Visa must have entered Australia - you can't do this prior to arrival.
Pick the Offer/Tariff you wish to have. The Telstra 'Pre-Paid Cap Encore' is the most popular for prepaid mobile phone plans as includes a nice chunk of data. See the Product info page for more info on available plans (note; if you selected to activate the SIM on a mobile broadband plan, then you will obviously be able to choose from the available plans for that type of SIM).
Confirm the details of your Telstra Prepaid offer and the SIM and personal details you have entered. Then select/tick the box if you agree to the 'Terms & Conditions' and then 'Activate'
You should get a notification saying that 'Your Telstra activation is being processed' and you will also get a notification via email to confirm your activation is underway.
Normally an activation is pretty quick (ie for me it was just under 10 minutes), but allow up to 2 hours or longer.
There might also be an option in the menu bar (along the top) to check Account/activation - here you can enter your order number and check the status of your activation.
You should then get an email to notify you that you activated has finished, and your SIM should be live. As I said earlier, for me this took only 10 minutes to process, but allow up to 2 hours or longer.
If you have the SIM in your phone, you will receive some messages when the SIM goes live welcoming you to your new Telstra mobile service for Australia.
Beware, if you are activating the SIM from outside of Australia, you will need to turn roaming on (so it can connect to the network). Not all countries might it be possible to connect to the roaming partner in your country on Telstra prepaid. Also, note trying to use data might not work outside Aust, unless you load a international roaming pack (very expensive if you roam with data). Another thing, is that making calls and sending SMS from outside Aust, would be considered roaming and generally not included in the Plans/tariffs, and therefore use your credit at a much higher rate.
Do make sure your phone is unlocked and compatible (see product info page), and you should be in business when you touch down in Aus! Happy travels :-)
See the coverage of the Telstra network here. Telstra has by far the best coverage and fastest network of any Australian operator.
Customer Service: 125 8880
Credit Card Recharge: 125 8885
Activations: 125 8887
Information: 125 8889
Balance/Recharge: 125 8888
Phone Menu: #100#
View Balance #100*2#
Change Offers #100*3#
APN: telstra.wap (or if broadband device: telstra.internet)