How To Get An eSIM For Australia

How To Get An eSIM For Australia Image | East Coast Tours Australia

Whether you're on a gap year, a study abroad program, a working holiday, or just a long, extended travel adventure in Australia, you might want a local phone number. Though Australia is very modern and most places have free Wifi, it's handy to have an Australian phone number with either a regular SIM card or an eSIM. 

Because we live in an ever-changing world of technological advances, the concept of an eSIM is still new to many people. But they're actually really easy to use, and not very different from a regular SIM card. We're going to break down the difference between an eSIM and a regular SIM and give some tips for setting one up in Australia. 

girls taking a selfie with a phone by the beach

What is an eSIM?

An eSIM functions the same way as a normal SIM card but it's all electronic. An eSIM is also called an electronic SIM or embedded SIM, meaning you don't actually have a tangible SIM card that you can hold and touch. Most people (including myself) have limited knowledge of advanced technology so it can be hard to wrap our heads around how an eSIM actually works. But it's like adding a phone plan or an APP to your phone. You can get a local phone number and data pack without ever actually seeing a physical SIM card. 

girl taking a photo of a koala at a wildlife park in Cairns

Should I get eSIM or a regular SIM card for Australia?

Both eSIMs and regular SIM cards work fine in Australia, it just depends on whether you'd like to skip the process of adding a tangible SIM card. eSIMs are ideal for people who travel often. You can easily switch between plans and providers electronically without having to switch and store physical SIM cards. It's way too easy to lose a tiny SIM card as well!

But if you'd prefer the old-school method of removing your home SIM and installing a new SIM card in Australia, that's fine too! Connectivity and function are the same on both eSIMs and regular SIMs, many people just prefer the convenience of an eSIM. You can even have both a physical SIM and an eSIM at the same time, you just switch between the provider you want at the time using your phone settings. 

girl taking a selfie in front of Noosa Beaches

Which providers have eSIM in Australia?

eSIMs are becoming more and more popular in Australia so there are lots of providers where you can purchase one that suits you. You'll want to browse through all the options so you can pick the eSIM that suits your budget and data needs. Keep in mind that most hostels, restaurants, cafes, buses, and establishments in Australia have free Wifi, so you might not need as much data as you think! Most plans are around $20 - $50 AUD per month, depending on the data amount you want. 

These are some of the most popular providers that offer eSIMs in Australia:

  • Optus
  • Telstra
  • Vodafone
  • Superloop
  • TPG
  • Tangerine
  • Airalo
  • iiNet
  • Lebara

group of travellers taking a photo by maheno shipwreck at sunrise

How do I set up an eSIM in Australia?

To set up an eSIM in Australia, you just have to buy it online from your chosen provider and follow their instructions. Shop around on the providers listed above to see which company has the right plan for you. If you're having trouble deciding, speak to an expert! Most of the above companies have good customer service and can find you the right eSIM. Once you've purchased your eSIM, you will receive detailed instructions on how to download and set up your plan, usually via an APP. 

Also, some eSIMs are only available to download once you arrive in Australia so you can't order it in advance. Some are available to download before you arrive, but they won't actually work until you're in Australia and it does depend on the provider you choose. Again, if you have any questions about when to buy your eSIM and the installation process, contact an expert within the company you're thinking of buying from.

girls in beach chairs on Whitehaven Beach Australia

What is the disadvantage of eSIM?

There aren't many disadvantages of using an eSIM, but the main downside is availability. Though we listed many providers that offer eSIMs, there are still some phone plan providers that don't have them yet. Also, they usually only work on newer phones. If your phone is older than a 2018 model, there is a good chance you might not be able to use an eSIM on it. 

Some people also don't like the process of switching phones with an eSIM. Because everything is electronic, the process is a bit harder than if you were to just pop out your physical SIM card and place it in your new phone. But if you're not very tech-savvy, just contact an expert and surely you can switch phones with your eSIM easily if needed. 

girl taking a photo of rainforests on K'gari (Fraser Island)

Is eSIM better than physical SIM Australia?

It's really up to you if you'd prefer an eSIM or a physical SIM in Australia, but people who travel often tend to prefer an eSIM just for convenience. You can buy an eSIM for multiple countries and have them stored on your phone, so if you are constantly travelling overseas you can just swap between your eSIMs changing selections in your phone settings. So if you're visiting Australia and planning to do some trips abroad to New Zealand or Bali, you can keep your Australia eSIM and just turn it back on when you arrive back Down Under. 

If you're just staying in Australia, there isn't much difference between an eSIM and a regular SIM. eSIMs are a new technology that is only increasing in popularity, so you may want to just hop on the train now in case it's the dominant option in the future! And if you're someone who is prone to losing small things, an eSIM is more secure than a physical SIM. It's impossible to lose! But in terms of actual function, both an eSIM and a regular SIM will work fine in Australia so the choice is yours. 

girl taking a photo of a couple on the beach in Australia

Have more questions about travelling to Australia? Contact our East Coast travel experts and we'll help you plan your trip!

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