Where to find a SIM card at Melbourne airport, and which one to get
This guide is to help travellers arriving in Melbourne find where to buy a SIM card. I travel to Melbourne airport frequently for work and visit. One of the first things I do when getting out of the airport is to pick up a SIM card for my phone.
There are two shops that sell SIM cards at Melbourne Airport:
|Shop||Location||SIM Cards Available|
Open 6:30am to Midnight
|International Arrivals. Facing the exit from customs, slightly to the right. See map above.||
|Welcome to Melbourne shop||International Arrivals. To the right as you come out of customs. See map above.||
I’ve found the shops occasionally sell out of the cheaper SIM cards, or the staff were pushing me to the more expensive ones.
At Terminal 2, International Arrivals, there are 2 SIM card shops:
- Optus, which sells SIM cards for the phone carrier Optus,
- Welcome to Melbourne, which sells SIM cards for various phone providers and tickets for the bus to the city
At the Domestic Terminals (1, 3, and 4), I’ve never been able to find a SIM card shop. Typically travellers without SIM cards arriving on domestic flights have been in transit from Sydney. If you’ve arrived with Qantas or Virgin, it’s not far to walk to the international arrivals area to buy a SIM card. Otherwise, wait until the city to buy one.
Overall, I find Optus (starting at $10)1 to be the best option for SIM cards at Melbourne Airport. Optus typically offers coverage everywhere I travel, which usually places them above Vodafone on my list of preferences. If I know I’m going to travel extensively in rural Australia, I like to find a Telstra SIM card instead.
Alternatively, a SIM card can be bought while transiting in Sydney Airport. I’ve included how to do this in my guide to Sydney airport here: Where to find a SIM card at Sydney airport
Which SIM cards are available at Melbourne Airport?
Of the SIM cards available at Melbourne Airport, I consider which one to get based on:
- Making phone calls
Great for coverage: Telstra and Optus, each from $10 AUD
Out of the options at Melbourne Airport, the best SIM card I’ve found for coverage is the Telstra Pre-Paid max2, starting at $10 AUD for 7 days.
Coverage is important in Australia if you plan on travelling outside the major cities and towns. If you’re trip is limited to Melbourne, any of the major mobile phone networks (provided by Telstra, Optus, or Vodafone) will work. For other common visitor destinations:
- Great Ocean Road, in my experience Telstra and Optus work well here, while Vodafone coverage can be spotty.
- Phillip Island, all major carriers should work here.
- Grampians, all major carriers should work in the towns, but Telstra offers the best coverage on the mountains themselves.
I like to use either Telstra or Optus if I’m travelling significantly outside the larger cities and towns:
- Telstra provides the most coverage in the countryside: it covers highways, smaller towns, and many remote areas.
- Optus is the covers most highways and some of the smaller towns. Optus is typically cheaper than Telstra.
Smaller SIM card brands will use the bigger networks to offer coverage. I’ve found the better deals on these smaller SIM card brands are only available once you leave the airport.
Great for data: Optus, from $30 AUD
For visitors staying up to 90 days in Australia, I’ve found Optus to offer the best deal on data. The $30 (AUD) Optus Prepaid Epic Data SIM card includes up to 35GB of data for each 28 day period as a bonus for the first three 28-day periods - so roughly 3 months. After that it drops down to 10GB/28-days, though this isn’t a concern for most short term travellers.
Great for calls: Vodafone, $20 or $40 depending on current deals
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
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 Melbourne city or at the airport?
If I can afford 15 minutes in queue, I like to buy the SIM card at the airport, and I usually buy the Optus option. If I’m in a rush, I’ll buy a SIM card in the city at a convenience store.
There is often a long queue at my preferred shop, Optus, however with coffee in hand from the nearby cafe, I tend to tough it out for the 10-15 minutes it takes.
The previously mentioned Welcome to Melbourne shop has less of a queue, but I feel the staff are less helpful in terms of setting up and activating the new SIM card.
Which SIM cards are better value if bought in the city?
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 data4. 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.
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.
For longer expiry: Any
All of the SIM cards mentioned here, available in Melbourne, and Australia in general, can be topped up and have their validity extended.
Do I need ID to buy a SIM card at Melbourne Airport?
Yes, identification is required to buy a SIM card at Melbourne 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. The shop that sells the SIM card can do it, or you can do it on your phone once the SIM is inserted - different SIM cards support different activation methods, it’s easy but if you’re not sure ask when buying.
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.
Is Wi-Fi available at Melbourne Airport?
Yes, Wi-FI is available at Melbourne Airport. I usually connect to it while I’m waiting for my bag or while I’m waiting in line for the customs check. The Wi-Fi can be a little slow, I’ve found it only useful for updating messages and emails; it often struggles to load news articles.
The Wi-Fi at the airport helps me update on missed news while I’m waiting for bag collection and customs. I feel these embody the Australian spirit and can be a bit slower that what I’m used to in the likes of Singapore or Hong Kong.
How to get from the airport to the city, while connected
Catching the Skybus
SkyBus is the mass-transit option for transporting people from the airport to the city. Melbourne airport does not have a train connection. Taxi and services such as Uber are available. I prefer taxi (company money) or Uber (my money), even though they don’t provide Wi-Fi. The journey takes 30-60 mins depending on where you are going in Melbourne city.
Each SkyBus has Wi-Fi on board. People tell me the service isn’t good on the bus. I usually buy a SIM card before leaving the airport, or accept that I won’t be connected. If you’re next destination is the city - the train station Southern Cross or any hotel/AirBnB in the central area - I’ve found I don’t need a map to locate a convenience store that sells SIM cards.
Uber, using the airport Wi-Fi to book
It may be possible to book an Uber using the free Wi-Fi at Melbourne Airport. I don’t like this option because:
- Wi-Fi coverage isn’t great once you leave the terminal building - Uber pickup is a short walk outside the terminal building
- Wi-Fi speed, even when connected with full signal, is unreliable and may disrupt the Uber booking process.
I haven’t tried the other ride-share options available in Melbourne. Ride share in Melbourne includes:
- DiDi, pickup at airport follows the process on their website
- Ola, also have a process on their website for airport pick up
- Taxify, not available at Melbourne Airport.
Taxis in Melbourne do not have free Wi-Fi. The convenience of going straight to my destination means that I often prefer to jump straight in a taxi rather than line up for a SIM card at the airport - especially if work is paying for the taxi ride.
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.
Most New Zealand destinations are available by direct flight from Melbourne. Direct flights take around 3.5 hours and are available to: Auckland, Christchurch, and Queenstown.
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 Melbourne, Indonesia is accessible directly via Bali and Jakarta.
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.