Mobile phone “parking”

SIM Cards
SIMs from the countries I have had an extended stay in; including my normal Aussie SIM.

When you go on short holidays, you continue paying your phone bill as per usual. But when you plan to go on extended trips this doesn’t seem like the smartest thing to do. The money you are spending on your phone service, that you aren’t using while overseas**, is money you could be spending on other things. If, like me, you have had your mobile number for ages and really like it then you are faced with the problem how to keep it without paying a huge amount of money. I think of this as “parking” your number.

So in terms of parking a number, what should you look for?

  • Support for porting your existing number
  • Cheap
  • Long expiry (365 days if possible)
  • International Roaming – I like to have the option to roam with the phone service but switch data roaming off
  • Something which doesn’t require you to be in the country in order to “recharge”, preferably something that will actually recharge automatically
  • Cost to receive SMS, MMS or Phone calls (receiving calls, even voicemail, usually costs)
  • I don’t pay a great deal of attention to call rates, because I have no intention to make proper use of the service – I only want to receive SMS and send the occasional SMS

In my search for the best plan, I came across a site called whistleOut which provides great comparisons of products and deals. This is where I gathered most of my information. I then picked the options I considered feasible and contacted the various companies via their website or directly.

The table below summarises the options I personally would consider suitable for phone parking.
Be aware that I am based in Tasmania – and we have fewer phone providers than mainland Australia. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other options.

PROVIDER PRODUCT NAME CREDIT EXPIRY COST (CREDIT + SIM) RATES & INCLUSIONS FEASIBLE OPTION
 ALDI Go15 365 day  $15 + $5

I think unused credit expires

Rates:

Calls within Aus
0c flagfall + 12c/min

SMS 12c (Aus)
SMS 25c(International)

MMS 35c (Aus)
MMS 75c (International)

Data 5c per MB

 Yes

$15 per year + one off $5 for SIM

 Amaysim As You GO 365 day $10 + $10

Credit rolls over if you recharge before expiry.

Rates:

Calls within Aus
15c/min

SMS 12c (Aus)
SMS 25c (International)

MMS 49c (Aus)
MMS 75c (International)

Data 15.4c per MB

 Yes

$10 per year + one off $10 for SIM

 

 Vodafone 365 Plus 365 day  $30

$30 starter pack incl SIM

Rates:

Calls within Aus
20c/min

SMS 20c (Aus)
SMS 28c (International)

MMS 20c (Aus)
MMS 50c (International)

Data 5c per MB

 No.

$10 recharge available after initial credit expiry

 Optus My Prepaid Long Expiry 6 months  $30 starter pack incl SIM Rates:

Calls within Aus
20c /min

SMS 20c (Aus)
SMS 20c(International)

MMS 20c (Aus)
MMS 75c (International)

Data 5c per MB

No.

$60 per year

 Telstra Pre-Paid Long Life 6 months $30 starter pack incl SIM

 

Rates:

Calls within Aus
39c flagfall + 78c /min

SMS 29c (Aus)
SMS 35c(International)

MMS 50c (Aus)
MMS 75c (International)

Data $2 per MB

No.

$60 per year

ALDI and Amaysim both offer competitive options; with Amaysim having a higher startup cost and comparatively ALDI having a higher yearly cost.

Vodafone is a bit more expensive and in my opinion Optus and Telstra priced themselves out of the long-expiry market. When I first went travelling I had Optus long expiry at $10 per year; then without advising their customers (ie. me) they jumped up to $30 per 6 months. I instantly made the decision to jump ship; and once my existing period expired I moved to ALDI.

** If you are using your normal phone number overseas, then I’d like to suggest you rethink it. The roaming charges are excessive.
Whenever I visit a foreign country for any more than a week or two I buy a local cheapie sim card. I look for the ability to text and use data, and some call credit.
I do still take my own sim with me and put it in my phone from time to time, just to receive any missed text messages, so that I can email or text my current number to whoever hasn’t already got it via the facebook update that says something like “My number while I am in Canada is …”

NB: Research completed in February 2015; revised in January 2018.

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