Whether you're a grey nomad looking for a phone to travel, or after a plan that will reduce your monthly mobile bill, we've got your best phone plan choices sorted.
As seniors, you’re of the generation that can remember a time when having a phone meant having a landline, or in some cases even an existence without phones at all. Mobile phones are a fact of life now, though, and they can give you a new lease on life whether you’re a grey nomad travelling Australia and the world, or simply enjoying your retirement years at home.
The mobile needs of seniors aren’t that much different to those of your younger counterparts, although it’s less likely that you’ll need high data plans, or be all that interested in a high-cost plan, especially if you’re living on investments or a pension as your primary income. You’re less likely to be impressed by the latest bells and whistles, instead preferring some solid value for your mobile plan buying dollar.
As with any other demographic, there’s really no "one plan to rule them all", so it’s worth sorting out your needs and likely usage before choosing a few plans. Here’s what you should consider before choosing a plan.
- Calls or data?
Many plans, especially in the contract space, now come with unlimited calls and texts, but if you’re buying on a budget or for prepaid, you may have a call quota in minutes or "credit" dollars. Sorting out the real cost of a call shouldn’t be too hard thanks to the Critical Information Summary that every provider is obliged to write up, but if you do like your smartphone, a plan with more data may be a better call.
- Calling out or in?
If you’re an incurable phone chatterer, a plan with unlimited minutes could be an easy recommendation to keep your overall bills low, but if having a mobile is more a factor of emergency communications only when needed, or you want a communication line where friends or relatives can call you, you may be better suited with a long expiry prepaid plan. Remember, incoming calls to mobile services within Australia do not typically cost you anything to answer.
- Do you need a new mobile?
If you’re holding onto a much older phone, such as the endless array of mostly-Nokia "candybar" phones that were popular in the late 90s and early 2000s, you should be aware that as of mid-2017, there won’t be any 2G services available in Australia on any network. That means an upgrade is in order, but there you’ve got a choice. You can opt for a phone on contract, including some very fancy smartphone models if they take your fancy and your budget allows, or buy a simpler model outright and have your pick of telcos to choose from.
- Prepaid or postpaid?
If you’re on a tight budget, a prepaid plan may be a safer alternative, because you can’t go over whatever your prepaid spend is through phone usage. However, prepaid plans nearly always present worse overall value in terms of calls, texts and data costs, so you could end up recharging more frequently than on a comparable cost postpaid contract plan.
Pick of the plans: Which plans are best?
As noted, there’s no one single plan that’s ideally tailored for the senior crowd, because your circumstances, budget and needs may vary quite markedly. What we’ve done here is identify several different types of seniors and their needs, matching up the best plans for them. You may fit in just one of these types, or several depending on your circumstances.
Best plans for budget conscious seniors
Rationale: Whether you’re just careful with your money or surviving only on a simple pension, you don’t have the money to splash around on high-end mobile plans. For you, a mobile phone is a calling tool first and foremost, with a strong focus on a lower overall cost of usage.
Best choices: Amaysim As You Go, ALDImobile PAYG
Amaysim’s As You Go and ALDImobile’s PAYG plans stand out for the simple reason that they have a very low barrier of entry in cost terms, with a simple upfront prepaid sum paid in that lasts for a full 365 days in either case. ALDIMobile’s services run on parts of Telstra’s 4G and 3G networks, while amaysim operates on the Optus 4G network. They’re ideal if you want a service for very intermittent calling out where a more fully fledged plan may be costly overkill, and naturally, anyone can call into your phone without it costing you a single cent.
Best plans for talk-heavy seniors
Rationale: You’re a social butterfly, always on the phone to your friends and relatives, whether it’s simply to stay in touch because of distance, or to catch up on the latest gossip. What you don’t want is to be hit with a hefty bill for your calling habits at the end of the month, so a plan with unlimited calling provisions is more important than anything else.
Best choices: Vaya Unlimited S, OVO For Mobile $24.95
In the contract space, Vaya’s Unlimited S plan would be an excellent match for your needs, combining unlimited calls and texts with 1GB of data on Optus’ 4G network for only $16.00 per month. That’s a postpaid contract plan, so if you did go heavy on the data you could pay excess fees, and if that doesn’t appeal to you, consider OVO’s $24.95 prepaid plan instead.
Best plans for grey nomads
Rationale: The kids have long left home and hey -- so have you! You’re part of the growing community of older Australians who loves to travel, whether it’s across this wide brown land, or to more far-flung foreign shores. As such, what you need is a much more full-service phone plan, because your phone isn’t just a communication tool, but also potentially a research tool, camera and entertainment box all in one.
Telstra’s got the advantage for travellers within Australia that its regional coverage is second to none, as well as the ability to freely access Telstra’s Air network of public Wi-Fi hotspots. Wherever you see a pink top on a phone booth, that’s an Air hotspot, and Telstra customers can (for now) access them and use data from them for free, which should keep your mobile bills in check.
If you’re more of an international grey jetsetter, Vodafone’s $50 RED Data plan is a good fit, as Vodafone’s $5/day roaming deal makes it easy and (relatively) inexpensive to roam overseas using the provisions of your plan without paying the ludicrous flat roaming charges most telcos apply.
Best plans for seniors who need a new phone
Rationale: Your old phone has had it, whether it's an old 2G model you need to upgrade or something newer that just doesn't cut it any more on battery life terms. Or maybe you just fancy treating yourself! In any case, you want a phone and a plan to go with it.
Best choices: The issue here is that again there's no one "best" choice, because needs and desires differ a lot, as do budgets. But that's what we're here for! You can use our Mobile Phone Finder service below to find the ideal mix of phone and plan inclusion by clicking on "Modify results" below. We've preselected Telstra's excellent little Signature Premium phone, but you can swap that out for any handset or plan you like.
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