Phone SIM to offer calls at 49 cents per minute while you're overseas

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Phone SIM to offer calls at 49 cents per minute while you're overseas

From 1 April, the per-minute rate to call Australian from most of Europe, Asia and the US will be 49 cents with BackChat, compared with several dollars per minute with Telstra or Optus.

If you plan on travelling overseas soon, another player in the travel SIM space, BackChat, has just announced reduced call charges starting next month.

If you take your mobile phone overseas, you have four main options:
 
• Use your normal SIM, and pay nosebleed-inducing rates for making and receiving calls. You may be able to purchase a 'roaming pack' to offset the cost, but that can still leave you with a big bill if you use the phone more than you planned.
 
• Buy a prepaid SIM on arrival. This is generally the cheapest for making in-country calls, and if you do your homework carefully you may get good rates for calls back to Australian. The main disadvantages are that you can't tell people what your number will be before you leave, you may need documentation that isn't usually available to foreigners (eg, in Japan), and you can't use your phone as soon as you land.
 
• Divert all calls to voicemail, and avoid using your phone as a phone. Use free Wi-Fi services and a VoIP app to return any calls that really do deserve immediate attention. The downside is that if you do make any normal calls (eg, to confirm a late arrival at your hotel, to check opening hours of an attraction, or to deal with an emergency or other urgent situation), it's going to be expensive.
 
• Buy a SIM intended for international use before you travel, and swap it for your usual SIM once you've left Australia.
 
The advantages of a travel SIM, like this one from BackChat, is that you know your number before you travel, you can use your phone as soon as you arrive, and calls are affordable.
 
There are also travel SIMs like the Woolworths Global Roaming SIM as well as TravelSIM.
 
So how much will I pay for calls with BackChat?
From 1 April, the per-minute rate to call Australian from most of Europe, Asia and the US will be 49 cents, compared with several dollars per minute with Telstra or Optus, according to the company.
 
BackChat also claims this is a lower rate than a lot of people pay for calls wholly within Australia. But you wouldn't want to use a BackChat SIM in Australia, as you'd pay 99c/min to call an Australian landline and $1.24/min to call a mobile.
 
Among the exceptions to BackChat's 49c rate to Australia are China (59c) and Singapore (99c).
 
How does this compare to the Woolworths Global Roaming SIM and TravelSIM?
  • Woolworths prices for those destinations vary  - UK, 18c; USA, 92c; China, 92c, Singapore, 46c.
  • TravelSIM's also vary - UK, 41c; USA, 48c; China, 79c, Singapore, 69c.
So to decide between which SIM to get you need to consider which countries you are likely to visit - unlike a local prepaid SIM, these SIMs can easily be kept "alive" between trips.
 
What about receiving calls?
You should also consider the cost of receiving calls in various countries. For example, incoming calls on all three services are free while in the UK, but while in the US you'll pay 92c/min on Woolworths, but nothing on BackChat or TravelSIM.
 
If you expect to send or receive more than a few SMSes, check those rates too before picking among the products.
 
How much will I pay for data?
Then there's the question of using the Internet.
 
In the US you'll pay:
  • 0.6c/10KB (6c/100KB) on BackChat
  • 9c/100KB on Woolworths
  • $US0.10 (currently 9.6c)/100KB on TravelSIM.
 
Go to China and it's:
  • 0.6c/10KB (6c/100KB) on BackChat
  • 9c/100KB on Woolworths
  • $US1.56 ($1.49)/100KB on TravelSIM.
 
Even at the lowest prices, take care how you use mobile data, though some of them are cheaper than the 10c/MB applicable to Telstra's pre-paid Simplicity plan within Australia.
 

 

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