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US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

Washington DC...
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US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

We finally realized we need to be able to make phone calls within countries that we travel in (this resulted from standing around for a pay phone after a flight was cancelled). Duh, huh?

Anyway, what we want is a cell phone (not ours, not with our number) that will work in Australia and other GSM countries. We do NOT want to make/receive calls to/from the USA on this phone. We want an Australian number (so it's a local incoming call there) and want to use it to make ONLY loca/in-country calls in Australia while we are there for a couple of weeks at a time.

Verizon does not seem to offer what we want. Most "international phones" sold/rented here in the USA have US/UK numbers and the business model assumes we want to stay in touch with the USA. No. Email handles that just fine, using the iPad or office facilities provided us in Australia.

I came across a National Geographic affiliated company that offers a $109 unblocked quad band phone and sells German, Austrlian, etc. sim cards for about $59 each, some time included. One issue is that I'd have to replenish or buy a sim card at least yearly to keep the phone active. That does not seem a problem but it would be nice to just have an unlocked phone and a source of sim cards that I understood how to use and replenish!

Any other suggestions? Don't expect to make a lot of calls but nice to have the security to call airline, etc.

Also, I have often seen sim card promotions right in the airports but am unsure of which are legit and how one replenishes the time for those.

Forster, Australia
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1. Re: US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

It is very easy and cheap to buy a basic unblocked phone that will accept a prepaid sim card with top ups available if needed. You can get started, with a phone with credit for under $100. Plenty of phone shops around to buy from.

Greg

Melboune
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2. Re: US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

Prepaid phones are readily available in Australian. Our local Coles supermarket currently has a prepaid Nokia phone for $45. I guess prepaid credits would be in addition to this. Admittedly this particular one is locked to Vodaphone, but this indicates the sort of price you can expect to pay (in fact, IIRC sometimes they're even cheaper than this).

If you've got an unlocked US phone that operates on GSM and you bring this with you, you can certainly buy a SIM here for a nominal price ($2 maybe), and then you can buy some prepay credits with the carrier of your choice. These SIMs are totally legit (but I think you need to show ID when you buy them).

Edited: 25 April 2012, 00:09
New Zealand
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3. Re: US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

I bought a Sim card for my unlocked phone at Melbourne airport. I had to show my passport and sign some stuff. It came in a package that gave 1 month's unlimited calls within Australia for $40. The salesperson also put the Sim in and got it connected to the network.

Looking at the Sydney airport website, I see they have both Vodafone and Optus there, so you could get that sorted when you arrive.

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

Relevant link

http://www.sydneyairport.com.au

Select Facilities and SErvics then Telecommunications. For some reason the direct link to the page won't work.

Edited: 25 April 2012, 10:39
Aberdeen, Scotland
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5. Re: US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

What would be the cost of a PAYG smartphone in Australia? I have my iPhone and can use it for calling the UK thanks to the Vodafone passport for only 75p but don't want to be hit with high roaming charge for the internet so I was thinking of getting a cheap PAYG smartphone but how cheap can you get them for?

Sydney/Melbourne
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6. Re: US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

This site may help you to make comparisons

http://prepaidplans.com.au/

Australia
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7. Re: US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

Unlocked phones can be purchased anywhere - Supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles have them, and so do chain stores like Big W, K Mart, Target, Dick Smith, etc. Of course, the fancier the phone is (in terms of functionality, features, etc.), the more you can expect to pay. I have seen simple phones for $29

Sim cards are around $2.00, also ready for easy purchase from the above stores and more.

Good luck with your planning and have a GREAT time in Sydney! :)

Brisbane, Australia
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8. Re: US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

You can buy it from any super market like Coles, Woolsworth and from Australia Post Office.

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

If you are in the US, get an AT&T phone. They are UMTS, so they will work with 3G networks in Australia, New Zeland, Germany, UK ......

Then, you just buy a SIM card after you have landed in the country.

L H
Melbourne, Australia
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10. Re: US traveler--Rent/buy cell phone for use in Australia--HELP!

Before you leave Scotland, call your phone company and ask them to unlock your phone. Once phone is unlocked, you can use it in Australia.

Once you arrive, look into buying an Amaysim sim card (check out their website for purchase locations and call/data rates). I looked into this for a friend and they seem to have the cheapest rates and you can add credit via website.