Mobile plans to keep both your teenager and your wallet happy do exist, but it pays to choose carefully.
Teen-friendly mobile plans: The key facts
- Prepaid plans prevent overspending, but postpaid plans tend to offer greater value
- While fixed-term contracts often pack the most bang for your buck, beware their hefty cancellation fees
- Try to avoid plans that automatically charges for excess data usage, as this can lead to nasty bill shock
Matching a plan to a teenager is tricky because as with any mobile plan, there’s no single plan that’s ideal for everybody. One constant, however, is the need for plenty of data to fuel their online lifestyle. That's only the tip of the iceberg, however, and bill-paying parents will want to ask themselves the following key questions:
Am I paying for communication or information?
Many parents only want their younger children to be able to phone or text home on basic security grounds. That’s still true of teenagers (and possibly a bigger concern as they stay out later), but it’s not the only reason that a teenager will want or need a phone. It’s as much about sharing selfies or streaming media as it is about phoning home.
Prepaid or postpaid?
Teenagers tend to have a better grasp on money than their younger counterparts, but protection from overspending still makes going prepaid a solid choice. Keep in mind, however, that prepaid plans typically offer less data than their postpaid counterparts. If you’re always topping up their prepaid plan because the data’s running out, you might be better off signing up to a postpaid plan instead.
Who’s paying for it?
Does your teenager have a part-time job? If they’re able to fund their plan themselves, you might be able to teach them a little about budgeting on the way while also giving them greater independence.
Pick of the plans: Which plans are best?
While there’s no absolute "best" plan that will suit every teen and parent, we've selected what we believe are excellent choices for a variety of needs and budgets.
Best plans for tweens
Rationale: They’re not quite teenagers, but you can’t quite treat them the way you would a high school kid just yet. As such, prepaid plans with decent calling allowances but a moderate quantity of data would suit well.
Best choices: Kogan Mobile Small, Yomojo Unlimited 1GB
You don’t have to spend a fortune for a basic unlimited calls package with a chunk of data thrown in as well. Kogan Mobile’s Vodafone-4G-backed Small deal will regularly set you back $16.90 for a 30-day recharge and even less if you buy the 90- or 365-day variants, or if there’s a special on. Yomojo’s Unlimited 1GB plan does similar on Optus’ 4G network.
Best plans for talking teens
Rationale: It’s like, your teenager, like, likes to talk. If that sentence sounded suspiciously familiar, then congratulations! You’ve got a heavily talking teen. The good part here is you don’t have to spend a fortune on data services, but you may have to spend a little, given that communication between teenagers isn’t just talking. All those selfies and video calls can chew away at a data allowance too.
Best choices: Catch Connect $25, TPG Small $19.99
Catch Connect is a powerhouse in the budget-priced mobile space and its $25 SIM-only plan is an excellent choice for talkative teens. Along with unlimited standard calls and texts, it comes with a sizeable 11GB of monthly data for surfing the social networks.
TPG's Small SIM-only plan is equally attractive. It, too, includes unlimited standard talk and text but only 4GB of data. That's offset by its cheaper price: $10/month for the first 6 months, then just $19.99 ongoing.
Best plans for always-online teens
Rationale: Older teens, or those with specific online interests, whether it’s watching their favourite shows on Netflix or just perusing the odder corners of the Internet (be careful out there!) can chew through quite a bit of data. For these teens, there’s good sense in investing in a plan with a fair chunk of data already in the plan; while you can usually buy additional data packs, they’re almost always a more expensive proposition than raising your initial funding to score more data. Bear in mind with prepaid you can always slide up or down a prepaid recharge scale to meet predicted needs.
Best choices: Catch Connect $35, Boost Prepaid $40
Catch Connect again emerges as a top choice for teens wanting the freedom to browse abundantly on the go. Its $35 prepaid plan packs in an impressive 20GB of data and if that's not enough, its $49.90 plan doubles the cap to 40GB and crams in 200 minutes' worth of international calls.
If coverage is a concern, Boost Mobile's $40 prepaid plan couples plenty of data with the strength of Telstra's mobile network. That $40 recharge gets you 30GB of regular data plus a bonus 15GB of data for your first 5 recharges, which is more than enough to keep you connected while you're out and about.