Telstra SIM-only plans give you access to the carrier’s exceptional network without a bundled handset.
What services does Telstra offer?
Telstra runs the largest 4G network in Australia providing services on both contract and prepaid terms, including the 12/24 month and month by month contract SIM-only services detailed here. It has the widest current deployment of 4G services through both metropolitan and regional areas of Australia. Its 4G network, which it dubs "4GX", offers the highest category speeds of any network in Australia in metropolitan areas, and in many regional areas it’s effectively the only network choice to speak of.
How much does Telstra Mobile cost?
Telstra’s SIM-only plans are offered on either a 12/24 month or rolling month-by-month basis, with slightly different pricing structures but the same overall plan naming scheme. Like its contract mobile 24 month plans it offers plans with S, M and L naming schemes, relating largely to the cost of the plan and the inclusions, most notably the data inclusions.
For the 12/24 month plans there’s also an online-only MX plan available. The baseline 12 month S plan costs $35 per month with 500MB of data and $300 of call value. Calls are priced at a flat $1 per minute with no flagfall, while text inclusions are unlimited.
The online-only MX plan costs $40/month with 5GB of data with $1000 worth of call credit, but in return for that discount you only get online self-service help options.
For the regular $50/month tier you get 5GB of data and $1000 worth of call credit, while the $70/month tier offers 10GB of data and unlimited standard national calls and texts. Finally, the $90/month tier comes with 20GB of data and unlimited standard national calls and texts.
If you favour a more casual approach, Telstra also offers SIM-only plans on a month-to-month basis as BYO Mobile S, M and L plans. These cost $35, $50 and $70 per month. The S plan includes 500MB of data and $300 worth of call credit, with calls charged within Australia at $1 per minute. The $50 M plan includes $1000 worth of call credit and the same pricing structure, plus 5GB of data, and the $70 L plan includes unlimited standard national calls and texts as well as 10GB of data.
What extras does Telstra Mobile offer?
Telstra’s 12 month BYO plans include a bonus Apple Music subscription for 6 months on the lower tiers and a full 12 months on the L tier, with all music streamed through the app free from data charges. Until 25 December 2016, the L plan also offers a 3 month subscription to Netflix and Stan, as well as 3 new release rentals through BigPond Movies.
If your home phone or broadband service is also via Telstra it’s worth investigating whether or not you might get a bundling discount on a SIM-only plan, or for your other services because of a SIM-only plan. Either way, you’re saving money.
Telstra runs a public Wi-Fi network dubbed "Telstra Air" via its stores, many public phone booths (the ones with pink tops are the giveaway) and via its customer broadband networks, and access to the network is included with its SIM-only plans at least until through 27 March 2017.
What excess charges could I face on these plans?
Telstra's SIM only plans don't include a handset by definition, so there's no additional handset repayments to face. For plans with a fixed call quota, any calls made that exceed that quota will be added to your monthly postpaid bill when it rolls over. This isn't an issue for unlimited call plans, and all of Telstra's current SIM-only plans do include unlimited standard national text inclusions.
Data is strictly metered on Telstra's SIM-only plans, and what this means is that once you've exhausted your data quota (if you do), any excess usage will be charged at a flat $10 per gigabyte or part thereof. As such, as soon as you go over quota you'll pay a minimum of $10 extra.
Premium services, such as calls to numbers starting with 19 prefixes will attract additional charges, as will calls to some satellite services.
Telstra's SIM-only plans don't generally include international call inclusions except at the highest level, which means that on most plans you will incur additional charges for international calls and texts. You can check Telstra's call rates for its international calling destinations on its web site.
If you roam while travelling internationally, you will incur roaming charges for your usage. Telstra sells travel passes that offer unlimited standard calls and texts as well as data provisions for $30, $70, $140 and $300 if purchased upfront. Otherwise you'll be subject to variable call and data rates depending on the country you travel to. Telstra's full costings schedule for each country where roaming is available can be found here.
Finally, if you cancel your contract early, you may be subject to an early termination charge.