Finding a Tourist SIM card in Adelaide: Airport or City
To help tourists and short-term travellers to Adelaide figure out where to buy a SIM card and which one to buy, I put together this guide. I understand how confusing it can be to arrive in a new city and be overwhelmed by options. Hopefully this guide clears up some of that confusion.
It is possible to buy a short term SIM card if arriving at Adelaide Airport. SIM cards from the three largest providers in Australia (Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone) are typically available from the WHSmith shop at the airport, stock depending.
There is one shop selling prepaid SIM cards at Adelaide Airport:
|Shop||Location||SIM Cards Available|
M-F: 5:30am - 8pm, Sa-Su: 7am - 8pm
|On the outer side of the terminal building, see map above.||
If transiting in Sydney on the way to Adelaide, it is possible to buy a Vodafone or Optus SIM card at Sydney Airport. I included this option in my Sydney SIM card guide, check it out here: Where to find a SIM card at Sydney airport
Is it better to pick up a SIM card after leaving Adelaide Airport?
For convenience, I find it better to buy a SIM card at Adelaide Airport: All big providers are available, each offering good deals for coverage, data, and phone calls.
Leaving the airport can open up options for smaller brands that re-sell the networks of these big providers. It can be a few dollars cheaper to leave the airport, but for most short trips I find this not worth the trouble.
I find the Optus plans available at the airport to be good overall.
Optus Prepaid Epic starts from $10 AUD1 and includes 5GB of data and 100 mins of calls to Australian numbers.
Other options are available, I’ve taken a look below at which are good…
- For better coverage (Telstra)
- For cheaper phone calls (Vodafone)
- For even more data (Coles Mobile)
I’ve found Telstra provides consistently the best coverage of any of the mobile networks in Australia. Coverage is important in Australia if you plan on travelling outside the major cities and towns.
The Adelaide Hills and wine regions generally have acceptable coverage with all networks (Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone), but may have some blackspots particularly due to hills. I found Telstra and Optus to offer consistently acceptable coverage, while Vodafone had some areas without coverage.
If driving out of Adelaide, the best coverage currently appears to be with Telstra and Optus. Both cover the larger roads and towns. Not all roads are covered, including to popular destinations such as the Flinders Ranges. Some travellers may consider a satellite phone for emergency communications if travelling extensively in the Australian outback.
- McLaren Vale, all three networks provide good coverage.
- Barossa Valley, Telstra and Optus provide good coverage, Vodafone is limited.
- Flinders Ranges, Telstra consistently appears to offer the best coverage (although there are patches it may be unavailable) for roads and towns near the ranges. Optus covers the larger towns only. Vodafone does not appear to cover even that. I’ve never found any coverage at the ranges themselves.
Telstra SIM cards should be available at the WHSmith, depending on their stock available. Plans start from $10 AUD2.
Better value calls
For calls back home, Vodafone includes generous minutes with its prepaid SIM card to dozens of countries. The price for this SIM card seems to be inconsistent, either it’s $20 or $40 AUD3. I feel it’s a good deal at either price point if you are interested in making phone calls back home.
The Vodafone prepaid SIM includes:
- 500 minutes of calls to: Singapore, Malaysia, China and territories, Japan South Korea, UK, US and territories, and many more
- 100 minutes of calls to: Most of South America, Most of Europe, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and also many more
Vodafone has shops in Adelaide CBD, including at Rundle Mall and Central Market, typically open 9am to 5:30pm with reduced hours on weekends.
Coles, a large supermarket chain in Australia, offers a $20 AUD plan that includes 28GB of data3. It is valid for 35 days. Coles has a large number of shops that you can buy this SIM card from. Network coverage is the same as Optus. Unlimited local calls are available though the international call rates aren’t as good as Vodafone.
Any Coles supermarket should sell Coles Mobile prepaid SIM cards. There are Coles located in the Adelaide CBD on Rundle Street or on Grote Street.
Getting to the city centre to buy a SIM card
Adelaide airport is connected to the city and surrounding suburbs by various bus routes, Uber, and taxi.
SIM cards can be found near popular accommodation spots, particularly in the Adelaide CBD. Many of the shops run by the mobile phone providers close early, some of the 24 hour convenience stores sell SIM cards however.
Airport bus services are provided by Adelaide Metro with various services travelling to areas surrounding the airport, or Adelaide city itself.
Near bus stop F2 Grenfell St - North Side is Rundle Mall where Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, and Coles all have shops. Shops selling SIM cards are usually closed by 5:30pm, except some convenience stores.
Buses may have free Wi-Fi, which works well if not many people on the bus are using it.
Uber and ride-share, using the airport Wi-Fi to book
Uber is current available at Adelaide Airport. The pick up area is located in the car park, away from the terminal building. This means it’s a walk to the carpark to find the Uber. I haven’t had any experience with the airport Wi-Fi at Adelaide, but I imagine it doesn’t provide coverage out to the car park.
I don’t like to use Uber when it isn’t available at the terminal. Airport Wi-Fi often doesn’t stretch to remote Uber pick up locations (and I don’t like walking there with my luggage). If there is a problem finding the driver, it can be awkward walking back to the terminal to get Wi-Fi again.
I assume Wi-Fi is not available once in the car.
Alternatives to Uber from Adelaide airport include Talixo and Jayride.
Taxis in Adelaide do not have Wi-Fi.
Is Wi-Fi available at Adelaide Airport?
Yes, free Wi-Fi is available at Adelaide Airport. Connect to
Adelaide Airport to use the Wi-Fi.
Do I need ID to buy a SIM card at Adelaide Airport?
Yes, identification is required to buy a SIM card at Adelaide Airport and anywhere else in Australia. A passport is sufficient, and the address you’re staying at will also need to be supplied. An activation process may be required for the SIM. Staff at the shops are generally friendly and can help you through the activation process. It’s done either on their computer or on your phone.
Recording identification is done either when you buy the SIM card, or when you activate. If you’re not sure about the process, buy from a shop where they can help you activate the SIM card.
Can I roam with my Australian SIM card to another country
Optus offers 5 days of 10GB data roaming with its prepaid sim cards for an extra $20. This is only worth it for trips to New Zealand of 5 days or less. For trips longer than 5 days, local SIM cards can be bought at most airports that have flights from Australia and further abroad.
This Optus prepaid data roaming also works in Hong Kong, Singapore, USA and UK.
Prepaid roaming credit can be added on the Optus recharge website or in an Optus shop.
I’ve written guides to picking up local SIM cards at:
Despite being neighbours, roaming a prepaid Australian SIM card into Indonesia is expensive.
Telstra offers a very expensive $29 AUD for 100MB of data.
Vodafone is slightly cheaper at $25 AUD for a mix of data or calls (up to 200MB data), but it only lasts 3 days. A 7 day option is available for $35 AUD.
I don’t like the idea of taking an Australian SIM card to Indonesia, especially when there are so many local options available.
From Brisbane, it’s a 6.5 hour flight over to Bali, Indonesia.
For short trips of up to 5 days, the Optus prepaid 10GB data roaming plan is $20.
Written by Chris who travels frequently for work and understands what it can be like to arrive somewhere new and unfamiliar.
I wrote Landing Last Minute to help the hurried traveler get necessary information about any destination.