Telstra has always had stupidly expensive deals for roaming data and overseas calls on mobile plans. Do its new International Travel passes — which incorporate a bundle of options for a fixed period — improve that situation? Yes, but you can still do better.
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Here's how it works. You can purchase a pass in a 3-, 7-, 14- or 30-day denomination if you have an existing Telstra postpaid (contract) plan. There are two zones. Zone 1 is New Zealand, Thailand and Indonesia. Zone 2 is a large swathe of the rest of the world (specifically: Cambodia, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and United States of America ).
You receive unlimited voice calls and SMS to both Australian numbers and to locations within that zone. You also receive a data allowance to use over the period of the pass. If you exceed the data allowance (which we suspect you will), you pay 3 cents a MB for excess — which is a lot lower than Telstra's eye-watering casual rates.
Here are the different pass options on offer:
|Zone 1||3 day||$15||150MB|
|Zone 1||7 day||$35||350MB|
|Zone 1||14 day||$70||700MB|
|Zone 1||30 day||$150||1500MB|
|Zone 2||3 day||$30||150MB|
|Zone 2||7 day||$70||350MB|
|Zone 2||14 day||$140||700MB|
|Zone 2||30 day||$300||1500MB|
This is undoubtedly an improvement on Telstra's existing casual options, which can charge up to $3 per MB. However, it's more expensive than some alternative options. Vodafone's $5 a day deal, for instance, is cheaper for Zone 2 countries, especially in terms of data.
The data allocations are also minimal: 150MB on the 3-day plan is just 50MB a day — not a lot if you're backing up photographs from your phone and don't have other connectivity options. When you're travelling, data and text tend to be the most important options — time zone differences cut down on calls. Unlimited text is handy, but skimpy data is not.
If you're happy to switch numbers temporarily, purchasing a local SIM card is still likely to be cheaper, especially if you are only travelling to a single country. For multi-country journeys (say in Europe), the ability to switch countries could be helpful, but the data allocations still feel meagre.