Tru Could Save Mobile Phone Charges For Frequent Travellers

Newly launched mobile company Tru offers you numbers for multiple countries on a single prepaid SIM, potentially saving you a fortune on roaming charges and insane data charges. However, the structure of the plans is quite complex, and whether you'll save money might depend a lot on your usage habits.

Pay attention, because this gets a bit tricky. The Tru SIM itself costs $29.95 (you can buy it from the company web site, as well as duty-free on Qantas flights). That include a $15 monthly membership fee — which you have to pay in any month where you want access to discounted rates — and $15 worth of credit. The service uses Optus' local network, which isn't the absolute best coverage option you could have but fine provided you know it works where you need to go. Calls within Australia cost 25 cents a minute, and the same price applies to text messages. There's no expiry on credit, but if your phone has no credit you'll be charged $3 a month after 90 days has passed. You can top up credit online or through the phone.

The potentially clever bit is that as well as having an Australian number, you can also have either a US or UK number on the same SIM. (The UK network is provided by Vodafone; the US uses a number of networks.) That means that if you're in those countries, other people can ring you on a local number, rather than your Australian number — saving them extra expenses and you roaming charges on incoming calls. For each additional number, you'll pay $8 a month.

The local rates for calls in the UK and US are pretty good too, but the big attraction is the member data rates: $0.15 per MB in the UK, and $0.35 per MB in the US. That's a lot cheaper than casual data roaming rates for your own phone, which can be ruinously expensive, and makes Tru worth considering if you want some basic data access on your phone while in the US or UK.

If you don't pay that monthly membership and just use your phone in Australia, the rates go up to what True calls 'standard' levels. Calls to local landlines and mobiles cost 50 cents a minute — which is slightly pricey compared to most local providers, though there's no flagfall — and data rates go up massively from 10 cents a megabyte to $2.09 a megabyte. That means if you used 7MB of data on your phone in the month, membership would work out cheaper. Weirdly, local text messages get cheaper (17 cents a minute) on the standard plan. Those rates aren't an outright rip-off, but there's ways you could potentially do better on Optus or other networks, depending on your usage habits.

Tru is aiming to expand into 20 countries by the end of the year, with Hong Kong, Spain and the Netherlands due "shortly", and New Zealand also high on the list. You'll be able to add numbers in those countries, though having multiple countries month after month would get pricey. (Tru also has postpaid plans aimed at business users, but we won't get into those right now.)

For a one-off visit to the UK in particular, I can't help thinking you might do better just buying a cheap local SIM yourself — yes, you'll have to swap it into your phone, but the pricing structure will be more obvious, and Tru isn't so remarkably cheap that it would necessarily represent a good local deal as your single phone. For the US, it's much more appealing, given that buying a prepaid SIM is tricky and sometimes costly. Even then, I'm not sure I'd want it as my main local phone, but it's likely to be cheaper (and less hassle) than any alternative. Check out the rates on the site below, and tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Tru


Comments

    When I go to the US I used the Skype App on my iPhone for calling home via a wireless hotspot. There pretty easy to find as almost every coffee shop has one.

    For roaming data I just top up a T-Mobile sim that gives you unlimited usage for around $30. It's only EDGE but I found that more than fast enough to check emails, maps, twitter etc. while on the road.

    wouldnt travelsim be a better option???

    it can be used in 180 countries, and from what im lead to believe you get a +37 number.

    When you go to a different country, it connects to the local provider.

      The potential advantage of having a US or UK number is that it's cheaper for people in those countries to contact you. As with most of these things, you have to analyse your own likely usage patterns quite carefully.

      I reckon travelsim would be better for everything but data... the monthly charges are a bit exxy unless you're OS quite a bit.

    Buying a prepaid SIM in the US is not that hard. Go to any Best Buy store and get the H2Owireless SIM card for $9.99, or go to their website h2owireless.com

      Woops, that website is www.h2owirelessnow.com

    If you visit one or two countries during your trip, the best option would be getting a local prepaid SIM card. Rates will be better, you will have local number and recharge is easily available.

    For visits to many coutries or countries where getting prepaid SIM is not easy (e.g. Japan) a travel SIM could be also viable option. I've used United Mobile and was quite happy with service.

    Using your Australian SIM card is always going to be a most expensive option.

    You also can get local *landline* phone number in many countries using services like Skype, DIDWW or MyDivert and redirect all calls to another mobile number, landline number at your hotel or Skype.

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