Media Release

Hold the phone: Aussies numb to big smartphone bills

  • Aussies only feel the sting when a bill is 5 times their base plan
  • Shock sets in at $240 for Gen Y compared to $168 for Baby Boomers
  • How to avoid big bills

18 June 2018, Sydney, Australia – We've all had our hearts stop after opening a huge bill, but new research reveals Aussies have a high tolerance for overspending on smartphones, according to, the site that compares virtually everything.

Aussies on average spend $44 per month on their phone plan, but they only hit the roof when they open a bill of $216, almost five times the amount of their base plan.

The survey of 2,085 Australians shows that one in 10 (11%) experienced mobile phone bill shock in the last year – equivalent to 1.6 million smartphone users.

Excess data charges is the main reason for additional costs, followed by exceeding call allowances, and texting or calling from overseas.

Alex Kidman, Tech Expert at, says many are clearly numb to extra costs on their phone plans.

“The fact that bills double our base plan aren’t ringing alarms bells means we just expect to pay add-on fees, and that’s a worry.”

“Excess data charges are the main culprit for high bills, and telcos are very clear about charging those fees, so this could well be why there’s a higher tolerance for expensive bills.”

“The reality is with the right plan and a good understanding of charges, bill shock can be avoided, or at least occur less frequently.”

Bill shock sets in at a steep $240 for data-hungry Gen Y (those aged 24-38) compared to $148 for budget-conscious Baby Boomers (aged 59 plus).

Women have a lower bill shock threshold than men; a bill of $200 would make them uncomfortable compared to $231 for men.

“Ignorance is not always bliss. Phone usage deserves your attention,” he says.

“When you receive a message notifying you that you’re close to reaching your data usage cap, don’t stick your head in the sand: reassess your usage. Better yet if you’re getting this message every other month, it’s time to change plans and opt for a bigger allowance.”

How to avoid big bills

  • Get an app that monitors your data usage so you can check what apps are chewing up the most data.
  • Make sure to completely shut down applications when they’re not in use. You don’t want them to be doing updates or refreshing in the background, this hidden cost catches people out all the time.
  • Review your plan and make sure you’re actually on the plan that suits your needs best. If you’re regularly going over your data limit, it’s time to switch to a plan with a more generous allowance.
  • Change your Facebook settings to remove the ‘auto-play’ function from your feed. That way only videos you’re really interesting in viewing will play.
Top reasons for bill blowouts
1Excess data charges
2Exceeding call allowance
3Texting or calling while overseas
4Exceeding text allowance
5International calls (from Australia)
6Excess data charges while overseas


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About Finder

Every month 2.6 million unique visitors turn to Finder to save money and time, and to make important life choices. We compare virtually everything from credit cards, phone plans, health insurance, travel deals and much more.

Our free service is 100% independently-owned by three Australians: Fred Schebesta, Frank Restuccia and Jeremy Cabral. Since launching in 2006, Finder has helped Aussies find what they need from 1,800+ brands across 100+ categories.

We continue to expand and launch around the globe, and now have offices in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Poland and the Philippines. For further information visit

12.6 million average unique monthly audience (June- September 2019), Nielsen Digital Panel

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