Best Australian mobile plan for expats living overseas

So you have been posted overseas for a few years and will be getting a new local number where ever you are. Thing is, you still need your Australian number to be active for 2-step verification (e.g. SMS codes) and for important phone calls. Many people stay on their monthly plans which is ludicrous; why pay for something you are not using? Here is the best way you can keep your number active, be able to use your phone overseas and back in Australia when you visit.

What you need:

  • An existing Australian number that is not in contract. If you are in contract, try and get out of it by citing your OS move.
  • A phone that operates on the frequencies the country you are going to does. To do this, you need to find what bands/frequencies your phone supports and if the country you are moving to has cell towers that operate at those frequencies. Frequency Check seems to do this pretty well. Most phones that work in Australia will work in PNG.
  • Another phone for local use. I assume your employer will take care of this.

ALDI Mobile: Prepaid with long expiry

I’ve been using ALDI Mobile for about 2 years now while in PNG and love it. Great reception in Australia and fast speeds. Was very easy to port across from Telstra when I decided to switch over.

Basically, you get a PAYG SIM, port your number across and put PAYG Recharge credit on it which has a 1 year expiry. You use this credit when you are roaming in PNG to send the occasional SMS (50c) or take a call ($1 per minute); remember to turn roaming mobile data off though. It is free to receive SMS anywhere in the world so you can still use it to authorise a bank transfer. You can top up, check your credit and enable international roaming online via their website and you only pay for what you use.

When you visit Australia, you then buy a Value Pack which lasts for 30 days. E.g. a $15 pack will give you unlimited calls and SMS and 1.5GB (or $25 for 4GB). Take note to disable auto-renew as you only want to buy the pack once off (unless you are there for >1 month at a time). You can use your existing PAYG credit to buy the Value Pack.

NB: From my experience the ALDI Mobile app does not work outside Australia, you need to log into from a browser to buy a Value Pack before you fly to Australia.

When calling Australia, or anywhere else, I recommend you use Skype while in PNG. You just install the app on your phone, top up your Skype account with a prepaid card you purchased for 50% off in Australia, then call using the app. It uses less than 5kB/s of data and is much cheaper than roaming or using a local mobile. I’ve had good experiences using Bmobile and Digicel to make calls using the Skype app.
Side note: Digicel is terrible at WhatsApp voice calls, never had a successful call! Bmobile is fine for Skype and WhatsApp calls.

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