finder’s 10 best mobile phone plans November 2017

best mobile phone plans

There’s no such thing as the "best phone plan for everyone" but that shouldn’t stop you finding your ideal plan.

With more than 30 years of experience covering the Australian technology industry, the expert team at finder has been writing about mobile phone plans since the days of the original Nokia 3310. We know that there's no single plan that suits everybody's needs perfectly.

However, we also know value, and so every month we've looked at all the plans on the market and the team has compiled a list of the 10 best mobile plans for different types of users. Whether you demand stacks of data or just want to spend as little as possible, this page is designed to help you find the best mobile phone plan for your needs.


 

Best plan for data

Unlike fixed-line services, there's no such thing as unlimited data when it comes to mobile plans. Things have improved in the past year though – you can now get mobile plans with over 100GB of data, so long as you're willing to pay for it.

You do need to be wary though – many of the big data plans from smaller mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) only give you access to a 3G network connection, which means slower connections to take advantage of that large allowance.

Before opting for a big data plan, it's worth checking how much data you actually need, so you don't end up paying more than you need to each month.

finder's pick

This plan strikes a really good balance in the data to dollars department. While there are plans with more data at a lower price, they sacrifice 4G connectivity in order to offer such large data allowances at that price.

Also consider: If 4G isn't essential, you should investigate the Moose 78, which boasts 90GB of data for $78/month.


 

Best cheap mobile plan

The beauty of today's mobile market is that you don't have to spend a fortune to get a great value mobile offering. If you're looking to keep the budget in check, you can get some impressive value at a bargain price.

finder's pick

For under $15 a month, OVO will give users 1.5GB of data, $500 worth of talk value, plus unlimited text messaging on a prepaid basis.

Also consider: If that's still too expensive, the OVO for Mobile Mini plan drops the data to 1GB, the calls to $300 worth of value and the price to $9.95/30 days.


 

Best plan for travelling overseas

Thanks to its $5 a day global roaming inclusions, Vodafone has this category pretty much locked up, as no other provider offers anything near the same level of value.

By paying $5 for every day you use your phone's service in eligible countries, you get to access your phone plan's regular inclusions. As a bonus, the $5-a-day fee is waived if you happen to be travelling to New Zealand as well.

finder's pick

Remember that for extended trips overseas, $5 a day can still add up pretty quickly, so it may be worth picking up an international prepaid SIM card from the country you visit in order to save your tourist dollars for more important things. If you'll be jumping from country to country, global SIM cards are also a valid option.

Also Consider: If you can do without the data but still want the freedom to call home, Vodafone's 1 Month $30 SIM Only Plan has unlimited talk and text, but only 1GB of data.


 

Best plan for international calls

Just a handful of years ago, international calling from a mobile was an extremely expensive operation. Today, including international calls is a key differentiator for a number of mobile telcos.

When it comes to international calling, the best plan will largely depend on which country you actually want to call. While it's fairly easy to find a plan with unlimited calls to the US or New Zealand, getting affordable calling rates to other countries can be a bit more challenging.

It's also worth ensuring that these rates are consistent for both calls to landlines as well as mobile numbers before you sign up.

finder's pick

While there are plenty of great options for international calling, the $40 SIM plan from amaysim gets the nod for its versatility. You get unlimited standard calls to both mobile and landlines in 10 selected countries: China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, UK and the US.

In addition to those included countries, the plan also provides $300 worth of credit for standard calls to 22 more countries: Austria, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey and Vietnam.

Also Consider: Telstra's $70 SIM-only plan includes unlimited standard calls to 10 countries (China, India, UK, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, US and Canada).

Alternatively, MVNO Lebara has built its entire business model on affordable international calls, with the Lebara Unlimited Plan for $49.90 offering unlimited calls to 50 countries, though 10 of those countries are only for fixed-line numbers.


 

Best long-expiry plan

If you're looking for a good, simple way to save big on a prepaid mobile plan, it's worth considering a long-expiry plan. Today's options can include a regularly updated allowance of data, as well as significant discounts over equivalent month-to-month plans for paying up front for a full year's worth of connectivity in advance.

The catch is that the up-front premiums can be relatively high, and while you save in the long run, it still stings in the short term.

finder's pick

Kogan Mobile's long-expiry plans are hard to beat normally, given that the data inclusion refreshes every month rather than lasting the entirety of the prepaid contract. That means that even though you're paying for 12 months in advance, you really get up to 131GB of data over the duration of the plan for the Large 365 day plan.

But even more enticing this month is that Kogan has slashed the price of its long-expiry plans for the first recharge. Given the first recharge here lasts a full year, that's exceptional value, equating to 11GB/month for roughly $21.19 a month.

Also Consider: Some users opt for a long expiry plan just to have an active number for receiving calls rather than trying to save over a longer period of time, and for these users inclusions are a much lower priority compared to price. If this sounds more like your needs, it's hard to go past the ALDImobile Pay As You Go plan, which costs $5 and has a 365 day expiry, with $5 worth of calls but no data included in the price.


 

Best mobile plan on the Telstra network

Telstra's 4G network is one of the best in the world, stretching across the country and is arguably the only option for a large portion of our more remote population. While Telstra keeps the best performance for its own customers, it does also offer wholesale access to its network for MVNOs to offer similar coverage, often at a lower rate.

The catch is that most MVNOs only have access to "Parts of the the Telstra 3G/4G network", which means pockets of 4G and 3G network aren't available to them. However, pinpointing those spots can be a real challenge.

finder's pick

Boost Mobile is in the enviable position in that it has access to the full Telstra 4G network. It won't hit the full speeds you'll get on a Telstra connection in capital cities, but you do get the full coverage. When paired with its affordable prepaid plans, and its current double data deal for the first two recharges, it makes the $40 Boost plan the pick of the bunch.

Also Consider: It's impossible to compare Telstra's network and not suggest a plan from the carrier itself. To get the most out of Telstra's 4GX network, you need a phone capable of Category 16 speeds, which means you should consider the latest Samsung Galaxy Note 8 on the Telstra Go Mobile Plus 24 month contract.


 

Best mobile plan on the Optus network

Optus licenses its mobile network to more MVNOs than either Telstra or Vodafone, which means that there's a lot more choice for the savvy consumer. It also lets MVNOs access the full Optus network, so you get the same experience whether you're using amaysim or Virgin Mobile.

While Optus itself tries to offer its customers bonuses like unmetered Spotify or Netflix streaming on certain plans, many providers using the Optus network instead opt for the budget price play.

finder's pick

Moose is a relative newcomer to the MVNO space, but with unlimited calls and texts to Australian numbers and $300 of international calls included, its Moose 34 plan is impressive value. Just watch out for excess data fees, which are charged at 1.5 cents per MB, rather than the industry standard of $10 per GB.

Also Consider: As mentioned above, Optus plays big on the bonus front with its plans, which can be especially enticing if you're after a new smartphone. Signing up for the new 64GB iPhone X, for example, on the Optus $65 My Plan Plus (at a monthly cost of $112 when you add phone repayments) will get you unlimited talk and text, 7GB of monthly data, the new Apple flagship phone and unmetered Spotify, Netflix and Stan streaming, plus a bonus Optus Sports subscription so you can watch the English Premiere League. That's pretty impressive value.


 

Best mobile plan on the Vodafone network

Vodafone has invested a lot of money in its network over the past few years, and you can now get impressive connectivity with plenty of data and excellent inclusions, like Vodafone's own $5-a-day global roaming.

There are fewer brands using the Vodafone network to supply their 4G services, but you can still get some impressive deals.

finder's pick

If you're new to Kogan, the current offer from this budget MVNO is hard to go past. For the first recharge for new customers, all of Kogan's 30-day plans can be had for just $4.90. That means unlimited talk and text plus up to 16GB of data for just $4.90. It's important to note that, after the first month, the price for the 16GB plan will revert to $49.90, though you can recharge at a lower rate easily enough.

Also Consider: Vodafone itself has a massive range of plans on offer with bonuses targeting different types of users, from extra data to more international call inclusions. On the prepaid front, Vodafone stands apart by offering its standard plans with $35 day expiry, meaning you don't have to recharge as frequently and ultimately meaning you get more bang for your buck. The $50 data combo starter pack includes 12GB of data normally with a bonus 3.5GB available for up to 10 recharges if you opt in before 31 January 2018.


 

Best iPhone mobile phone plan

Right now, Apple fans are spoiled for choice when it comes to iPhone plans. With three new models on the market, and superb performance making the iPhone 8 Plus the best phone we've seen this year, there's never been a better time to get a new iPhone.

finder's pick

Mobile has an impressive balance between inclusions and cost for iPhone plans. For $95 a month you get a new 64GB iPhone 8, with 9GB of data, $300 credit for international calls and texts and unmetered Spotify, iHeart Radio and Google Play Music.

Also Consider: Telstra is always on the premium side of the pricing scales, but if you're prepared to sign up for the pricey new iPhone X, then getting the phone on the Telstra network could be a worthwhile investment. You can get the 256GB iPhone X on the Go Mobile Plus Plan L plan for $149 a month over 24 months, but in that asking price you'll also get 20GB of data, unmetered Apple Music streaming, a 12-month subscription to the Telstra AFL, NRL and Netball Live app, access to the Telstra Air Wi-Fi network and unlimited talk and texts both in Australia and to 15 international countries.


 

Best Samsung Galaxy mobile phone plan

While Apple has taken a definite step up in the quality stakes this year, that doesn't mean that Samsung has slowed down. The combination of Galaxy S8, S8+ and Galaxy Note 8 smartphones means that Samsung has the top end of the market covered especially well. If you're looking to grab one of these smartphones on a contract, there are plenty of options to choose from.

finder's pick

It's pretty wild that you can head down to the local grocery store, grab a bag of onions, a toothbrush and a brand new premium smartphone, but that's 2017 for you. Woolworths has some really great offerings on Samsung Galaxy smartphones, including this plan which includes 10GB of data every month, unlimited talk and text, unlimited standard international SMS and a brand new Galaxy S8 for $73.05 per month. Plus, you get two Woolworths Rewards points for every dollar spent.

Also Consider: Vodafone will let you buy a phone interest free over 36 months these days, which helps keep those monthly charges down. So if you're looking for the new Note 8, Vodafone's $40 Red Phone plan will let you have the device, 6GB of monthly data and unlimited standard talk and text for just $81.63 a month over 36 months.


What makes a plan the "best" plan?

There is no universal "best phone plan". Everyone is different and has different needs, and there are various phone plans out there to meet those needs. It’s all about selecting the plan that works best for you.

Think about how you use your phone. You may send texts every few minutes to your friends, or you may prefer to spend the bulk of your time streaming Netflix on the train. You may make heaps of phone calls, or you may just want a phone that lets people contact you in case of emergency, without using it otherwise.

No matter how you use your phone, ultimately the best phone plan is the one that takes into account who you are and how you use your device. Sadly, there's no one-size-fits-all plan that suits every phone user. If there were, the telcos would probably make even more money.

How do you choose a phone plan?

As with most decisions, the hard work is done in the preparation and planning. If you understand your usage needs, then you'll be able to find the phone plan that best suits those needs.

There are some key factors that you should absolutely consider as part of your preparation. The three main differentiators telcos use for their plans are calls (and texts), included data and price. Consider how much allowance you need for those three components, and use that to springboard your research. The fact that many of today's plans include unlimited standard national calls and texts makes it even easier for you.

Defining your budget will refine your plan choices significantly. If you want 20GB of data a month but can only afford a $40 plan, you may not get what you want. But thanks to the huge range of MVNOs on the market now, there's a good chance you'll get a pretty solid data offering somewhere.

There are plenty of other things to consider as well. Do you like getting bonuses as part of your contract? Do you want the freedom to chop and change providers to get a better deal? Do you make international calls? Each provider offers something a little bit different with each of their plans, so it's worth comparing the different offerings using our mobile plan comparison tool to find the ideal plan for your needs.


What are the different types of phone plans to consider?

There are two main types of plans you need to think about before signing a contract or buying a SIM card.

  • Prepaid plans. With these types of plans, you pay in advance for the mobile services you will use. When you use up all of your allotted data, calls or texts (or the expiry period ends), you won't be charged more money automatically – your phone service will instead just stop working. To prevent this from happening, you recharge your phone by purchasing another batch of credit in advance, which usually costs $10 or more. This credit lets you make phone calls, use data and send SMS messages. Prepaid plans are ideal for those who don’t want to commit to a contract. They are a good option for kids, as they allow you to control their spending and phone use by pre-purchasing their credit for them. There are also long expiry options, which let you prepay in bulk, saving significant sums of money.
  • Postpaid plans. These plans require you to sign a contract that lasts anywhere between 1 and 24 months. Every month, you will be given a certain amount of usage for phone calls, texts and data, and if you exceed that amount you will be automatically billed for the excess usage. If you break your contract before it expires, you will also be charged a fee. Heavy phone users are best suited to postpaid plans, as these plans tend to offer greater data inclusions alongside unlimited talk and text. There's also the option to bundle a new phone with a contract, which can be a more affordable way to upgrade your smartphone.

How to compare phone plans to find the best plan for you

  • Cost per billing cycle. Cost is usually the driving factor for most people when deciding which plan is best. It’s important to compare how much you will be charged every month, or how often you would need to purchase credit. First, find out how much you can afford to spend every billing cycle on your phone and this will help you compare phones. If you’re a light user, you should be aiming to spend between $15 and $30 per month. If you’re a heavy user, expect high data plans to run above $100 per month on major networks.
  • Data. Data allows you to use the Internet on the go without Wi-Fi. In the smartphone age, data is becoming increasingly important to phone users, with apps from Facebook to Google Maps all needing a data connection. Figure out if you’re a light user of data, a heavy user or whether you need data at all, and compare phone plans based on this to find the best one for you. Typically, light users should be looking for data inclusions of around 1GB per month, while heavy users should look for data inclusions with more than 8GB per month.
  • Excess data and its charges. If you do use data, you need to watch out for excess data charges as it can end up costing you if you go over your data allowance. Compare the excess data charges for each plan and look for one with minimal excess data charges. Many major plans have a standard fee of $10/GB for extra data, but some don't, so it's worth checking.
  • Network. The quality of the network you use is an extremely important consideration. Ultimately, all providers use all or parts of either the Telstra, Optus or Vodafone 3G and 4G networks. Coverage is different for each network, and currently Telstra's 4G network is capable of faster speeds with certain devices. If you travel frequently, international roaming offers like Vodafone's $5/day service could be an important decision.
  • Service quality. For some people, the level of service you receive is an important deciding factor. Check out and compare the level of customer service on offer and compare plans accordingly.

Frequently asked questions

Can I bring my existing number to a new phone plan?

In most circumstances, you can bring your existing number to a new plan. It’s best to check this first directly with the service carrier to see if you can keep your number. Our guide to mobile number porting will help guide you through the process.

Is it cheaper to purchase my phone and plan together?

There's no definitive answer, but our comparison engine conveniently lets you compare the overall costs between buying a phone on contract or buying it outright and then getting a cheaper SIM plan. Simply select the phone you want to buy, then choose the Outright vs Contract button above the table.

Compare SIM-only plans under $70/month

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