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What types of mobile plans can you get in Australia?
Prepaid mobile plans come with a recharge or renewal period that usually reset every 28 or 30 days. Just purchase a SIM card and pay at the start of each month to continue your plan.
- Great for your budget. Since you pre-pay, you'll never pay extra on top of your monthly amount.
- Good flexibility. Prepaid plans come with no lock-in contract, making it easy to switch whenever you want.
- Active recharges are needed. Unless you choose to auto-recharge your plan, you'll need to remember to renew it every month to continue your service.
- Limited inclusions. As opposed to postpaid plans, you'll need to recharge when your inclusions run out even if it's before your plan expires.
Postpaid plans continue indefinitely. You typically pay for them at the end of the month, but some providers will now charge you at the start.
- Set and forget. Just pay your monthly bill to continue your mobile service.
- Tend to come with higher data caps. This is great if you're streaming or video calling a lot when you're out and about.
- Excess usage fees may apply. If you go over your plan's allowances for the month, you could get charged extra fees (usually around $10 per extra 1GB you go over).
- Contracts still exist. While there are plenty of no-lock-in contract options, some postpaid plans still come with 6- to 12-month contracts.
Mobile phones on a plan
You can also grab a new phone on a mobile plan. Your monthly bill will be the price of your phone repayment plus the plan fees on top. Pay off the phone in monthly instalments over 12, 24 or 36 months.
- Affordable way to own a new phone. Because the cost of your phone gets split into monthly repayments, you can own the latest iPhone or Samsung without forking out $2,000+ in one go.
- Access special telco-only discounts. This is especially true during pre-order periods for new phones. Telcos often throw in discounts or free gifts that you won't get elsewhere.
- Long repayment periods. The longer the repayment period, the cheaper the monthly repayment, but staying with a provider for up to 3 years means you're potentially stuck on a poor value plan and missing out on new deals.
- Buying a phone outright is still cheaper overall. If you have the cash to spare, buying a phone outright is still the cheapest option since you don't need to pay for a potentially expensive plan on top.
How do you compare mobile plans?
The average Aussie uses just 10.2GB a month, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). We recommend checking your data usage with your provider or on your phone and go from there. If you're using upwards of 40GB a month, look into unlimited data mobile plans which could be better suited to you.
The network you get your mobile phone plan on will determine your level of coverage. Make sure you check especially if you live outside of metropolitan areas as some mobile networks may not service your area.
Mobile plan inclusions vary across the board but some handy features to look out for are data rollover and data sharing, Wi-Fi calling and international calls. On the other hand, if you're just looking for a simple mobile plan with calls, texts and data, you could skip on the extras and just get a good value plan.
While most plans are paid month-to-month, contracts and longer expiry periods may not be a bad option if you're okay to stick around for the long run. Long-expiry plans that last up to 365 days mean you pay upfront for a year's worth of usage and can usually save on your mobile plan over the course of the year.
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How do you switch mobile plans?
Compare mobile plans. Whether you're looking at a SIM only or phone repayment plan, make sure you find one that suits your data and budget needs.
Sign up and port your number. During the sign-up process, you can choose to keep your existing mobile number by asking for it to be ported to your new provider. Don't cancel your old plan yet!
Activate then cancel. If you've opted for an eSIM, your plan should be available as soon as you purchase it. Otherwise you'll need to wait for your physical SIM to be delivered. Once you activate your SIM card, your number should be transferred within 24–48 hours. You can then break up with your old provider and settle any outstanding bills.
How much data do I need?
How much data you will need is going to depend on how you use it.
Activities like browsing and social media don't use that much data so you should be able to get through the month with a smaller amount. On the other hand, multimedia streaming and downloads use a fair bit.
Here are some examples of the activities you can perform on these data allowances:
|5GB||Basic browsing, social media|
|10GB||Basic browsing, social media, music streaming, some video streaming|
|20GB||Basic browsing, social media, multimedia streaming and mobile games|
|40GB||Basic browsing, social media, multimedia streaming, downloads and mobile games|
Calculate an estimate of your mobile data usage to get a better idea of how much you need.
If that's not enough data then consider an unlimited data mobile plan (and avoid excess data charges).
Which mobile network is right for you?
Australia is home to just 3 mobile networks: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. The main point of difference between them is coverage and price.
Telstra is host to Australia's largest mobile network.
- Its 3G/4G network reaches 99.5% of the population
- Has the most extensive 5G coverage in Australia (80%) and is still expanding.
- Wide coverage means Telstra's plans are a good option for those living in regional areas
- No lock-in contracts on all prepaid and postpaid plans
- Tends to be the most expensive mobile provider
Some of the providers that use the Telstra network include:
Optus comes next but it's no second fiddle.
- Its 3G/4G network reaches 98.8% of the population
- Its prepaid and postpaid plans are a little cheaper than Telstra
- The Optus 5G rollout is still underway – Optus recently expanded the range across 1,000 mobile towers
- It covers a little less of Australia than Telstra – this difference in coverage is mostly felt in regional areas
Some of the providers that use the that use the Optus network include:
Vodafone has the smallest network but is also the most affordable.
- 3G/4G covers 96% of the population
- 5G rollout is ongoing – Vodafone recently set a speed record on its network achieving close to 2Gbps
- Vodafone has the cheapest plans
- Not the best network for those living outside of metropolitan areas
Some of the providers that use the that use the Vodafone network include:
Looking for a phone with your plan?
While you could fork out for a shiny new phone, purchasing it on a phone plan can make the cost more manageable.
Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and even a few smaller providers like Woolworths Mobile and Southern Phone allow you to pair your mobile plan with a new handset. You then pay the cost of the phone monthly over a 12-, 24- or 36-month repayment period.
Read our expert reviews on other popular mobile phones
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