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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4 thoughts on “Mobile phone “parking””

  1. My wife and I are overseas and we will not be using our Australian mobile numbers. We are off plan and paying Woolworths $30 per month each to keep our phone numbers. Our SIM cards are in Australai. We will be away for at least a further 4 or 5 months. What would be the most economical way to keep our numbers while away. Would welcome your suggestions. Is it possible to keep our numbers without using a telco and paying monthly fees?

    1. In all my research I never found a way to keep a phone number without using a telco. So I picked the cheapest telco possible, and ported my number over to them.
      The cheapest option at the moment (Dec 2017 was when I did my research on this, and made the switch myself) was the Aldi sim only at $15 per year, plus the cost of the sim. This has a long 365 day expiry so you don’t have monthly fees, just a yearly one to keep the number active. Obviously if you are actually using the phone’s credit you will need to top up more frequently than once per year. Porting your number has no cost associated with it.

      If you are already away from home, then it’s a bit trickier because you will need someone to receive (or pick up) the sim card and activate it for you, then possibly post it over to you if you are going to need it. As I am currently overseas, I had family members receive, activate and then post the sim to me.
      Note: you need to indicate you will be porting the number, at the time of ordering the sim.

      Enjoy your travels!! Let me know if you have any further questions.

  2. Once you’ve parked your Aus SIM, what’s the best way to find a good data (and calls) deal while you’re travelling?
    Any suggestions for Europe or US/Canada?
    Thanks

    1. Once I’m in a country I just go to a store that sells pre-paid SIM cards, I explain what I’m after and buy something there, I also usually ask them to set it up for me in case the activation process is in a language I don’t understand.
      I try to use my phone on WiFi as much as possible, so I typically have a SIM with fairly limited options.
      I don’t have any great suggestions for EU, US or Canada, but one thing that’s cool about the EU is that they passed a law in 2017 enforcing that all providers within the EU have to cover roaming within the EU at the normal prices. So at least you only need one EU SIM for all EU countries.
      For advice on buying SIM cards in other countries, Dave from TooManyAdapters has written a great series of articles on buying SIMs in each country. I’d recommend checking that out!

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