Where to Find a SIM card at Gold Coast Airport, and Which One to Get
Here is my guide for where to find a SIM card at Gold Coast Airport, and which ones I like to use. The Gold Coast Airport makes this a very easy choice, unlike many of the other airports I visit.
There is only one shop that sells SIM cards at Gold Coast Airport:
|Shop||Location||SIM Cards Available|
Open 5:30am to 12:30am
|Directly in front after exiting customs. See map above.||Optus Epic, from $10 AUD|
There is one shop at the Gold Coast Airport which sells SIM cards: Optus, located immediately in front of the international arrivals area (to the left if arriving from a domestic flight).
Currently the cheapest prepaid plan from Optus starts at $10 AUD1, however this plan may be unavailable at the airport and the minimum cost may be $20 AUD or slightly higher.
Telstra SIM cards provide a good alternative to Optus for travellers interested in better coverage. Better coverage is important if travelling off the major roads in Australia. Unfortunately Telstra SIM cards are not available at Gold Coast Airport; the nearest Telstra shops are in Tweed Heads or the Gold Coast city itself.
If arriving at the Gold Coast having transited in Sydney, it is also possible to buy a SIM card during the transit process in Sydney Airport. I included that in my Sydney airport guide here: Where to find a SIM card at Sydney airport.
Which SIM cards are available at Gold Coast Airport?
At Gold Coast Airport, the only prepaid SIM cards available are from the provider Optus. SIM cards from other providers (Vodafone, Telstra, and the many smaller companies which re-sell these networks) are available after leaving the airport.
In brief, what I’ve found with each of these providers:
- Optus is easily available at Gold Coast airport.
- Vodafone has better deals for making phone calls.
- Telstra has better coverage (I find this important if leaving the major towns and cities)
Telstra has the best coverage in Australia in my experience, closely followed by Optus and Vodafone.
Coverage is important in Australia if you plan on travelling outside the major cities and towns. If you’re trip is limited to the Gold Coast, Tweed Heads, and Brisbane, any of the major mobile phone networks will work. For other nearby areas:
- Byron Bay, I’ve never had any coverage problems with any of the providers on the road between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay. If taking a road via the mountains, I imagine coverage isn’t as good with any of the providers.
- Scenic Rim and Tamborine Mountain, along the major roads all providers have good coverage. For ventures into the mountains, I found the Telstra and Optus network to be a little more reliable.
- Brisbane, major city, all providers will work.
Telstra consistently offers the best network in my experience. Unfortunately Telstra SIM cards are not available in Gold Coast airport. If I’m travelling extensively in the mountains or the outback, I prefer taking a Telstra SIM card with me.
A Telstra SIM card can be picked up in The Pines Shopping Centre, Elanora, a 10 minute drive from the airport. The Telstra shop there is open 9am to 5:30pm every day though with reduced hours on Sunday. Other SIM cards are sold at convenience stores and service stations.
Telstra plans start from $10 AUD2.
Optus has generous amounts of data with its prepaid plans. While there are other SIM cards available in the Gold Coast that offer better gigabytes per dollar, I find the convenience of Optus at the airport hard to beat.
For visitors staying up to 90 days in Australia, I’ve found Optus to have a great deal: The $30 (AUD) Optus Prepaid Epic Data SIM card includes up to 35GB of data for each 28 day period1 as a bonus for roughly 3 months. After that it drops down to 10GB/28-days, though this isn’t a concern for most short term travellers.
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 stores are located in Elanora (at The Pines Shopping Centre, if heading towards the Gold Coast town itself), or at Tweed Heads (in the Tweed Shopping Mall, if heading towards Byron).
For local calls in Australia, both Telstra and Vodafone offer unlimited local calls to standard Australian phone numbers. Optus offers 100 minutes of local calls, which is enough for most people.
Is it better to buy a SIM card in the Gold Coast city or at the airport?
If buying a Telstra prepaid SIM card, which is a good option if travelling to national parks and outside major towns, the best option is to buy it in Brisbane city itself. As of writing, I couldn’t find any Telstra SIM cards sold in the international arrivals area at the airport.
For convenience, and as I typically buy an Optus prepaid SIM card, I find it better to buy a SIM card at Gold Coast airport.
Which SIM cards are better value if bought in town?
Better value SIM cards available outside Gold Coast airport (closer to town) are:
- Telstra, good value coverage
- Coles Mobile, cheap data on the Optus network
For better coverage: Telstra, from $10 AUD
Telstra provides better coverage than Optus or Vodafone. More remote roads are covered by Telstra, as are smaller towns, remote areas, mountains, and national parks. For adventures further afield into the outback of Australia, I like to use Telstra. (An aside though, while Telstra has the best coverage, it is still not available everywhere; if spending a lot of time in remote Australia, consider a satellite phone for emergency use only)
Two preferred options from Telstra are:
- $10 AUD for 2GB data, unlimited local calls, but with 7 days expiry
- $30 AUD for 20GB data, unlimited local calls, and 28 days expiry
All prepaid SIM cards I’ve seen in Australia can be topped up and have the expiry time extended.
For better value data: Coles Mobile for $20 AUD
Coles, a large supermarket chain in Australia, offers a $20 AUD plan that includes 28GB of data. 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 rates aren’t as good as Vodafone.
The nearest Coles to the airport is at The Pines Shoppping Centre, though the Coles on Palm Beach is probably more convenient.
For calls: Stick with Vodafone
For international calls, it’s hard to beat the Vodafone prepaid deal with 500 minutes to most of the world’s population.
For local calls, Coles has a 10 day $10 AUD SIM card that includes unlimited local calls.
Leaving the airport to buy a SIM
By Bus (with free Wi-Fi)
Free Wi-Fi is available on both SkyBus services. The Wi-Fi generally works well too.
The Gold Coast service drops off at hotels/apartments. Staff here should be able to point in the direction of a SIM card, though I imagine it will be a convenience store. Some good deals on SIM cards can be found at convenience stores, except for Telstra which I haven’t found to be widely available.
I found 3 shops near the Byron Bay service Mercato stop:
- Woolworths (at the bus stop), selling Woolworths Mobile SIM cards
- Aldi (towards the beach), selling Aldi Mobile
- Optus (away from the beach), selling Optus plans
Bus routes 777 and 760 do not have Wi-Fi available.
Uber and ride-share, using the airport Wi-Fi to book
It is possible to book an Uber using the Gold Coast Airport free Wi-Fi. I don’t like this option as the Wi-Fi speed and quality isn’t great making it tough to get in contact with the driver if something goes wrong. The Uber pick up area is also a short walk from the terminal building - the Wi-Fi probably doesn’t reach this far (I’ve never tried myself).
Other options for ride share include: Ola, Jayride (for airport transfers), and Shebah.
Taxis on the Gold Coast do not have free Wi-Fi.
Some service stations sell prepaid SIM cards, and most shopping malls have outlets for the major mobile phone providers. I often have to hire a car when I visit the Gold Coast, and heading to a shopping mall to pick up a Telstra SIM card is necessity if I’m planning on driving out to the countryside.
Do I need ID to buy a SIM card at Gold Coast Airport?
Yes, identification is required to buy a SIM card at Gold Coast 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 (like the one at the airport).
Is Wi-Fi available at Gold Coast Airport?
Free Wi-Fi is available at Gold Coast Airport. I’ve read reports that it’s very slow; never had the chance to try it myself as I always use a SIM card when travelling to the Gold Coast.
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.
Direct flights are just over 3 hours to New Zealand and from Gold Coast airport are available to: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown.
For short trips of up to 5 days, the Optus prepaid 10GB data roaming plan is $20 AUD.
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 Malaysia, especially when there are so many local options available.
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.